"IT DOESN'T GET ANY EASIER"
It can't just be me that has an issue with that comment.
I get it occasionally. I'll have said something to someone at work or a loose acquaintance about the children; life being frustrating; being exhausted - something banal and inconsequential - and the reply will be slightly smug and most certainly infuriating. "It doesn't get any easier as they get bigger you know. The problems just get bigger."
Honestly, it depends where I am on the exhausted spectrum as to how I react. Generally my social conditioning is such that I would never make a scene and thus have to modulate my response to "Well, I just hope I get a bit more sleep", or "It'll be nice when they can put their own shoes on." and not "SHUT UP YOU ARE WRONG" or a well aimed projectile.
Because they are wrong. In at least a couple of ways. 1. It is bloody rude to tell someone who has essentially told you're they're struggling that it will never get better. Especially when they're telling you that after a full night's sleep and haven't had to cajole someone out of bed; into clothes; to eat breakfast; to actually sit at the table to eat their breakfast; to in fact eat their breakfast and not stare into space or ask a million questions; to eat the breakfast that they asked for and not an alternative breakfast they decided on after the milk was poured over the cereal; to please stop screaming and eat their breakfast; to stop poking their sibling; and oh god, younger sibling please don't copy and...; to wipe cereal up from all over the floor (and we have yet to get to the hair/teeth/shoes/all the assortment of bags that need remembering and then getting out of the door bit) before they have arrived at work. Yes the problems might get bigger - and I don't want to undermine any of the really tricky and also relentless problems that can come with adolescence, but bloody hell, if never gets any easier, parents wouldn't survive till their children become adults and boarding schools wouldn't be going out of fashion.
2. They have forgotten. I think I probably have a little too. There's a reason why we have maternity leave, doing anything tricky on no sleep just doesn't work. Every season has its highs and lows, but how can you argue that a child that goes to the toilet by itself is just as hard as having to change the nappy on one that can't? I genuinely think it is part of the issue that they have forgotten how relentlessly exhausting doing everything is. I have children that will help pair socks and clear the table now. They've been trained to empty their lunch boxes and put away their shoes. Yes I don't have stroppy teenagers yet - but a 7 year old is much easier than a 3 or a 5 year old. I can even envisage a time where I might be able to serve interesting food and not be screamed at by a child that it is 'disgusting'.
3. The cult of self-flagellation to the point of exhaustion in motherhood is so strong that it is weakness to suggest that you become slightly less important?
4. Also - they are wrong. It is easier. I am sure I will hit a bunch of really tricky points and I can't imagine getting kids through exams and navigating the minefield of social media will be easy. But, already it is easier. Here is my evidence.
a) Last time I tried to get the children to have a delightful family adventure and walk through the woods at Basildon park there was about 15 minutes of walking before the whinging began and we eventually took a shortcut back across the deer park herding fractious and grumpy children. This time we walked at least twice as far, had a nice picnic lunch and although we ended up carrying the two smaller ones for the last bit it was much much nicer. I also didn't have to change any nappies.
b) I took three children to IKEA to buy some storage boxes. We had lunch in the cafe, food was eaten by all three children and I didn't have to raise my voice or threaten anyone with anything. We then went through the shop part without loosing anyone (yes, we had to back track to the toilets twice, but at least the little darlings decided they needed their emergency poos before we got past the kitchen section) and I didn't shout once. They even walked across the car park calmly holding hands. Ok, so I did lose my cool in the car on the way home over some ridiculous backseat squabbling - but I'm not a saint and there's got to be some room for improvement! (There was a trip to IKEA when Cleo was still in a pram that did not go nearly so well and featured a security guard who thought I had completely taken leave of my senses as I left the store with a child in a push chair and two trolleys - Sally was pushing one. I felt like a super woman, but I was clearly insane.)
c) Husband was away for a couple of nights recently. Sally read Cleo her bedtime stories.
So - It doesn't get easier? Politely, I completely bloody disagree. I wouldn't care to argue that it ever gets easy, an I also accept that I might have to delete this article at a later date. But everything is so just much easier when you can sleep and the children eat their food without a screaming match and if food can be eaten without screaming - I hope I have energy to deal with the fight over GCSE Maths homework.
Final Note - I pressed save and was confronted by a child screaming at me that I'm horrid for turning off the TV and sending them to bed.