When You Are Raising Both Big Kids and Little Kids

I’d forgotten what it’s like to have a toddler.

The generous ear-to-ear smiles. The fearless climbing. The insatiable curiosity.

I’d forgotten the surprise of discovering as a first-time mom that one human could need so much of my attention, so much of my time. I remember back to when Addy was a newborn and I felt like a zombie; I thought surely it was right here and now that mothering would be the most difficult and demand the most energy…  and then my baby started walking (and climbing and crashing and falling and stopping my heart right in my chest no less than ten times a day.)

I forgot the way life can feel so abundantly full, the gifts stacked right up: the bright blue eyes beneath long blonde lashes, the rough and tumble boy bouncing on his daddy’s back, the stopping in the middle of mom’s hurry to awe at open-close butterfly wings—the way the world gets bigger and smaller, faster and slower all at once when you get to re-see wonder through a toddler’s eyes.

I forgot the way life can feel so empty, the energy always lacking: the spills you couldn’t prevent, the messes that get made while you clean a different mess, the raw sinful defiance not yet tamed, the places you don’t go because you don’t see the point visiting a friend just to let her watch you chase a baby and shush his screams.

These are the days I once wrote of—the days of tied up feet, of walking slowly, of little done yet much accomplished in the unseen places of mine and my children’s selfish hearts.

There’s something so wonderful—so gracious—about being able to go back and do it all over again. I know what matters, and I know what doesn’t. I don’t need the random lady in the grocery store reminding me how fast it goes by (I think I’ve become that lady). I know. I have two elementary-aged kids. One who I think I might as well say it: I can’t carry anymore. I know that might sound silly, but I’m crying over it, because this part of me wishes my girl still needed me like that.

I am living this time around slower, less hurried. I know I am drained, but I am not anticipating the dawning of the next season where I will get more sleep. I know it will come. I want to live here now while I can.

There’s also something difficult about having kids spanned across different seasons of motherhood. I guess because Jed came right as Addy exited diapers, the different demands of mothering the two of them have always seemed to blend together. But Sam is different.

So now I have kids in sports. Kids with friends. Kids who can pretty well pour their own cereal on Saturday mornings. Kids who can take their own baths, do chores, and play independently. It’s a different season of motherhood.   

Only now I also have a toddler. So the demands of motherhood have changed with my other two, and yet I am pulled back. I am straddling two very different seasons of motherhood.

I feel stretched in two directions. One where I should be able to do more: taxi kids and tackle house projects and write during the moments of their growing independence. But I am chasing a toddler and forever cleaning the trail of crushed goldfish behind him.

In this stretch, I am finding that I have to re-surrender my life and my dreams. I am remembering that my no’s are even more valuable that my yes’s. My biggest and best and sometimes hardest yes is to love behind the curtain of our home—the unseen, un-thanked places of sweeping cheerios, singing silly songs, and cutting up nuggets for littles hands and few teeth.

I am learning to keep my eyes on what God has given me and not what God has given to, say, my friends who have kids the same age as my oldest. We are all different. We all have different capacities and different calls to live out. Some of us are done with the toddler stage… and some of us, well, aren’t.

A friend of mine shared a verse a few weeks back in a different version so that the verse so stood out and sorta broke my heart in the best way. “Know the importance of the season you’re in, and a wise son you will be. But what a waste when an incompetent son sleeps through his day of opportunity” Proverbs 10:5 (Passion Translation).

It is here right now that I have the opportunity to carry Sam, sing him songs, dice his food into tiny pieces, gently guard his safety, and enjoy his almost full dependence on me (along with those glimmers of defiant independence). It is here right now that I can have conversations with my older kids, answer their deep questions, hold their hands and cuddle up in their beds. I can watch them play and find their interests and imagine big. And though the needs from me seem great and spread wide, this is the one season I am living in. This is my day of opportunity. And by the grace of God, let me not waste it.

I want to live here and now, ever leaning on my Savior.

A Prayer: Lord God, I lift up all the tired mamas, the spread-thin mamas, the feeling-not-enough mamas. I thank You that You don't ask us to be strong, but rather grant us to fully rely on Your strength. Lord, would You bring rest and and encouragement to us? Would You give us the wisdom to recognize the season we are living in? Would You spur us onward, to seize this day of opportunity, to love those entrusted to us well? Would You help us to surrender our lives and dreams to You? We want to relentlessly follow after You and to point You out to our children. Lord, may we be the mamas who diligently raise up a generation that would praise Your name. We long to glorify You. And we desperately need You. You are our only Hope. {Amen.}


I'd love to hear from you! What are the ages of your kids? What are the "opportunities" you have been given in this season of motherhood? Let me know in the comments. 


By Grace,

Amanda Conquers


Super excited to be able to join in this beautiful community of storytellers after a long break.