Motherhood

A Parenting Question…

Jeremy Goddard

Cup of Jo has been running for 13 years (!), so we’ve decided that every week, we’ll be highlighting a popular post from the past. Here’s one of our favorites, originally published on January 25, 2016…

My friend Sharon, a mother-of-three, has a theory…

Newborn Baby Yawn

She thinks every adult has an age that they’re especially good at with kids. Maybe it’s wriggly babies. Maybe it’s goofy toddlers. Maybe it’s earnest five-year-olds. Maybe it’s curious ten-year-olds. Maybe it’s having heart-to-hearts and debates over dinner with teenagers.

Over the past few years, I’ve thought about it a lot. (It’s one of those random thoughts that floats through my mind every few weeks, do you have those?) Some of my friends love newborns, but I get such bad anxiety during the newborn baby phase that I don’t think back on that period with any great nostalgia. But I LOVE the chatty kid stage that Toby and Anton are in right now. The imagination, the wackiness, the sweet, sweet, sweet sincerity. I love how they still think Alex and I are the coolest people around (at least most of the time), and they say such beautiful childlike things. (The other day, Toby and I were on a walk, and I overheard him whisper, “Hello, evening. I missed you this morning.”)

I am also not a huge play-er. I find trains and Magna-Tiles mind-numbing. But I love love love love talking and reading books forever and taking pajama walks and going out for pizza and telling stories about when they were little and chatting while they’re in the bath and rubbing their backs when putting them to bed. My mom always says, “Take their worries and joys seriously,” and I try my best to do so.

What about you? What age do you think you’re particularly good at? I’m curious to hear!

P.S. Toby and Anton in conversation, and how many children do you hope to have?

(Top photo of my dad and his family growing up; the newborn photo by Jenny J.)

  1. Nina Molayem Nattiv says...

    I completely agree! I remember reading this article the first time and I think about it often. I’ve always loved my girls- they are relatively easy and ridiculously cute. But I have a feeling my best years are a few years away. My saving grace is books- as long as I can read to them, or next to them, then I’m not a total mess.

  2. NL says...

    Just want to say it’s very reassuring (permission-granting?) to read that someone else is not a play-er. And particularly someone who is so thoughtful, intentional, wonderful as a mother, from what I’ve read / can see online! It fills me with guilt when my 4 yr old son says “mama play with me!” and it’s a Magna-tile ‘game’ he’s made up or pushing cars around a play mat… I last five minutes before I am *done*. So thank you for that! Always helps to remember we have strengths and weaknesses in our roles as parents and that’s a-okay.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! welcome to the (i’m sure very large) club of non-players :) xoxoxoxo

    • I was a “set and forget” player. Happy to cheer from the side, but rarely happy to get into the game. It was literally my least favourite thing, and I was sure the kids knew it and would be scarred for life by their mother’s unfunness. My kids are now 16, 14 and 11 and all three are creative, curious kids who seem to still love their mama. So, I’m spreading the word: it’s okay not to play.

  3. Annie says...

    This is so reassuring! I’m three weeks in with my first and, while I adore him, I hate this stage. I’m a doer, so being tied down 24/7 is really challenging for me mentally. I love toddlers and can’t wait til he’s 18 months or so, but am trying to soak up the things I’ll one day miss, like him only weighing 10 pounds or not being a picky eater and definitely the fact that I don’t have to watch the same movie seven times a day with him!

  4. Ashley L says...

    Oh yes I love this. I have a really hard time with newborns. The constant need is exhausting. 18/2 is the very cutest age. They are never cuter than that age but I LOVE five & six year olds! They are really the best. Kindergarten is the best. They are so stinkin cute and sweet and love you if you are just the tiniest bit nice to them but they are could care less what other people think about them. They are amazing. Their amazing ideas and creativity. Amazing! I taught preK for four years and 2 year old for two years and now have a 2,4 & almost 6 year old. The beginning years are exhausting but those Kinder years are so worth the wait! Then they start to care a little bit too much what other people think of them and want praise too much and they go down hill from there. haha! My mom always said she loved us in middle school and teenage years because we were her best friends but she also taught middle school. So maybe my kids will be great too. but right now Kindergarten age is the best!

  5. Allison says...

    I love reading these comments! I’m a mom of 2 littles. With my daughter, I really struggled until she was over 18 months and almost didn’t have a second baby. Now she’s 3 and I (mostly) love the stage she’s in. I’m hoping I keep loving parenting more and more as she gets older. For me, parenting is so much more enjoyable when we can talk about things and problem solve verbally. My son is 8 months now and I feel totally burned out. He’s super sweet and loving, but not a great sleeper and a needy baby, like all babies. I thought I’d feel loving and patient through all of the struggles, but I get frustrated and over it. Anyway, I’m hopeful for the future. I also think it’s great to normalize all of these parenting struggles and feelings. Definitely makes me feel better!

    • Monika says...

      Allison, I’m sure you’re doing a much better job than you may sometimes feel you are. And I think it’s wonderful and amazing to be honest about parenting struggles; there can be a real code of silence around the deep emotions and worries that come up as a parent and it can feel very lonely. I have three little ones, and at one point, I had three kids aged 3 and under (twins among them) and it was bonkers and I felt much like you. They are a bit older now and best friends (and sometimes enemies) and so I can optimistically say you will absolutely catch your breath and realize your hopes for the future (I never believed people when they told me this, but it turned out to be true!) And the sleep will come and you will feel normal again. (Don’t discount how bananas sleep deprivation can make you feel) I actually think it’s the worry and wanting to be a good parent that makes you one. You’re doing great, don’t doubt it!

  6. Kaysie says...

    When my first baby was around 6 weeks old, my best friend came over to visit and meet him for the first time. She would have come sooner but he was a premie (born at 34 weeks) so I kept visitors to a minimum.

    I handed the baby over to her with tears in my eyes and she said, “So how are you doing? Like really?”

    I was shocked at the honest words that came out of my mouth: “THIS SUCKS.” I had been putting on fake smiles and acting like motherhood was bliss ever since my son came home from the NICU. But in reality, I was a sleep-deprived, anxious mess and truly not enjoying ANY of it.

    I’ll never forget her response — “Of course this sucks. I wish we could all just birth sturdy, giggly 6-month-olds. But that would really hurt.”

    I think I laughed for the first time since giving birth.

    My son is now about to turn 5 and I have a 4-month-old daughter. Every time I have a rough moment with the baby, all I have to do is take a look at my “big kid” and I know that it just keeps getting better and better and better.

    • Erica B says...

      My son was also born at 34 weeks and that time in the hospital was probably the worst thing I’ve ever gone through, even though he was fine all things considered. When he came home, everyone acted like “yay, your baby is home! everything is normal.” but the level of anxiety I had was out of control. I read an article later that parents of NICU/preemie babies experience a version of PTSD even if everything goes positively and I almost yelled YES. THIS. He’s 9 mo old now and I still find myself with levels of anxiety when I’m apart from him I know wouldn’t exist had our beginning now been what it was. I feel you. <3

    • Capucine says...

      That beep sound the machines make, with me forever. Occasionally somewhere in the world something will beep like that and poof! back there.

  7. Claire says...

    Not a mom, but I’ve been working with kids since I was a kid myself! I started babysitting at 15. The babies through preschool were always my favorite. Which is probably why I’m going into early childhood! Love the littles, but the older kids are fun too!

  8. Julia says...

    I am an elementary school art teacher, so I teach children aged 5 to 11.
    I adore teaching Kindergarten aged children the most. Their minds are so open, and they are so weird and creative in ways that I think adult artists regularly try to recapture. The closer they get to puberty, the more I am fighting their desire to look “cool” to their peers. When they are 5 & 6 the world is still magical and exciting!

  9. Leslie Cryan says...

    I once rode an escalator with a very elderly lady. I had a toddler in hand and was wearing my baby. After some small chat about the babies she looked right at me and said “It just gets better and better, don’t let ANYONE tell you different!” I’ve never forgotten that. It especially makes me happy because her own kids had to have been in their 70’s!

    • Jessica Brown says...

      I feel that. I thought having teenagers was going to be terrifying. Turns out I actually really, really like this stage.

  10. Kate says...

    I never really imagined myself having kids, but here I am, the mom of an 18 month old, and I am so in love with being a mom. It worries me a little to think I could be a toddler person or an infant person… I hope I’m a lifespan person! It isn’t always easy and I am definitely not perfect, but I try to just meet him where he’s at every day and soak it all in. I hope in doing that I’ll find the joys and absurdities in all of the ages. I wonder how I’ll look back on the stage he’s in right now? As a working mom it’s been a gift for me to be able to spend all day/everyday with him and really SEE him. I don’t miss anything because it’s all right there. I don’t dismiss anything he says or does as something he must have learned at daycare. It’s fascinating to watch it all unfold.

    • Capucine says...

      I know, right?

      My midwife looked at it this way – she found mothers fell into two broad camps: Doers, and Nondoers.

      If you are a nondoer, at peace with being in the passenger seat, chilling on the couch, seldom bored, go-with-the-flow, then labor and infancy will be easier. The active sports teams years, not so much.

      If you are a doer, a jump up attack the day, like to be busy, lots of friend outings person, labor may be tough until pushing because there is nothing to DO and infancy may drive you batty, but the chatty and sports-heavy years will be really satisfying.

      Mothering gives us all the opportunities to use our skills, and come face to face with our shortcomings. Fret not!

  11. Madeleine says...

    From newborn to 18 months old was HARD! But our son happened to be a terrible sleeper and a terrible eater. He’s now a little over 2 and sure there are some tantrums but I just want to freeze him at this age it is SO good. I’m pregnant with baby number 2 and dreading the newborn phase because of how traumatic it was for me but I think the key is to remember that it’s just that. A phase.

    • Isabel says...

      I found it much more anxiety-producing to have a second child than a first, partly because I wanted to compare everything. I now have 3 boys and they are all different. You might be surprised by your new person! His or her first 18 months could be a brand new experience!

  12. Rusty says...

    I wasn’t lucky enough to have my own children, but as the youngest of 7 siblings, I have a heap of nieces and nephews and great ones and even a couple of great great ones! Ah, yes! My family are breeders.
    I love ALL the stages. All of them.
    Yet as a an ex-high school reacher, I have always been asked to step in and “be the village” that helps raise the child, especially to close the gap 8n communication between teens and parents. I must be a teen whisperer, because friends also seek me out for this. ?

    • Kristin says...

      Loved this! Lucky teens to have you in their lives and lucky parents too.

  13. S says...

    I’ve got a 15 month old and a baby due in September, and hoooonestly??? I’m kind of dreading the newborn stage. I feel a decent amount of guilt over it, but I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who feels this way; it helps a lot to know you’re not alone in feeling that way. I LOVE playing with my son and reading him books, he loves reading too! I’m looking forward to the chatty kid stage!!

    • Kristie says...

      I have an almost 2 yo and a 5 week old, and when I was pregnant with my second baby I was dreading going through labour, going back to sleep deprivation, losing my ability to do one thing uninterrupted- basically everything negative I experienced with my first. But now she’s here, and it’s delightful and hard and magical, and it’s going by so fast. And I remembered how it feels like I blinked and my first is turning 2, and this hard phase will pass. I’m also giving myself more grace this time. I hope you get a lovely newborn stage- Also can I suggest to check out Solly baby on insta, she is writing incredibly helpful posts for being postpartum in this time xx

  14. LK says...

    I loved all stages except the driver’s ed years (months? felt like a decade!), but this was about the time their dad found his niche.
    Infants and toddlers were too inscrutable for him, awfully sticky, and very mom-centric. It was just easier for me to meet their needs, decode the syllables and pudgy hand gestures and changing daily rhythms. He traveled for work ALL OF THE TIME in those days, an automatic handicap.
    We both struggled with middle school: girl culture, boy smells, and how badly they want freedoms disproportionate to their skills and experience.
    You know what helped at this age, though? Promising that they weren’t going to ‘peak’ in middle school in any way (looks, intellect, popularity, physical strength, etc). This especially helped our daughter when she compared herself to those select few girls with perfect skin/clothes/hair/bodies (at 12! 13!).
    They’re adults now. He helps with taxes, I help with breakups.

    • Andrea Twasta says...

      This comment made me smile. I am a middle school counselor and will adopt your quote about teens and “ how badly they want freedoms disproportionate to their skills and experience,” if that’s okay with you? :)

    • Maureen says...

      I have a 6th grade daughter and really appreciate what you said about those challenging middle school years, we’re only at the beginning and I like what you said about “how badly they want freedoms disproportionate to their skills and experience.” How true, and the importance of reiterating that they aren’t going to peak at 12 or 13 years old. I really like the way you put that.

    • Isabel says...

      So much yes to all of these thoughts. My oldest daughter is 12 and it’s been such a challenge, as she continuously pushes boundaries, picks up fights with us (well, especially me) over anything, and goes from 0 to 1,000 and back in terms of drama in one split second, that I can barely keep up. By the time she’s over something, I am still licking my wounds from the dreadful remarkshe had lashed out seconds ago. And I have a hard time bouncing back. So it’s been hard.

      But my husband has so much more patience, and he seems unfazed by the mood swings (and the constant tik tok dances…), and just lets all these things roll and, in this way, manages to find her. Every evening they both roll up together on the couch and read books until bed time. It’s so nice to see.

      Thank you, LK, for making me see this time as my husband’s niche and not my own failure.

  15. I’m so glad I read this for the sentence “I find trains and Magna-Tiles mind-numbing.” I felt bad for not enjoying that part, especially because I love everything else. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one!! :)

  16. Denise says...

    My friend’s daughter is going on 5, and the things that she says just floor me. She’s so much like my own daughter, who will be 24 in a few weeks. I’m enjoying reliving that phase of her life.

  17. katie says...

    I’m childless by choice. However, babies are my jam. I love everything about babies. Invite me over after you’re home from the hospital and I will sit there and hold your baby for hours. HOURS I SAY!

    It’s killing me right now that I can’t visit with my sister and my new, three week old niece.

    • Em says...

      Ditto Katie! I too am childless by choice, but I spent the first months of my twin niece and nephew’s life living with them full time. I can read babies’ signals, follow their cues, get them to sleep, cheer them up and make them laugh, change their diapers and hold them forever — most importantly, give their parents a break and some much needed sleep! Love the toddler phase too, but there is nothing quite like like an infant babe :)

    • Hilary says...

      Katie, do you live in Denver by chance?! We have our second coming in November and I’d kill for some adult company during those bleary newborn days. Babies are great, but even better when accompanied by a friend and a glass of champagne!

    • Hilary! I live in Denver and love babies and champagne!

    • Hilary says...

      @kristen – Um, do you wanna be friends? If so, hit me up! I’ve always wanted a Cup of Jo friend in real life! This feels a little crazy and I like it!

      Hilaryldavis@gmail.com

  18. Beth says...

    I felt such indecision about having children because I never really felt the desire to have a baby the way so many of my friends did. But when I finally thought – well, in 5 years, would I like to have a 5 year old? – this question was like magic! It helped clarify my decision so much! The baby years were tough for me – I felt so anxious and incompetent! But I remember the day my son turned 5 and it felt easy and wonderful and fun to have a 5 year old! It’s liberating to remember that there are many phases of parenting and you won’t like all of them equally, or find them equally fun (or easy!). And that’s fine! With luck, you’ll also ebb and flow with your partner’s strengths during different phases and it all balances out somehow!

    • cilla says...

      Beth, it was the same for me!
      But more like: in 20 years I want to have a 20-year young petrson, that I will be proud of. This was a turning point for me with a decision to have kids.

    • Julia says...

      Beth, completely the same. I have three kids and found the baby phase mind numbing and challenging. But oh, my kids are seven, six and four and how I love the constant changing of there chatter and the pure and honest reactions and conversations. And humor! I just started reading Harry Potter book five (because we have some time now, with being isolated) and I couldn’t be more excited (and so are my kids!) I wasn’t exited about blocks or mimicking faces to a newborn but this is gold!

    • Kylee says...

      My kids are 5 (boy) and 3 (girl) and they have become best friends, which is what I always hoped for when my husband and I decided to have a second. Of course there are fights and and tears but they have a bond that I hope will last throughout their lives. They are in that stage where everything is magic and pretend and they are so so innocent. I had postpartum after each, and while both were pretty easy babies I struggled emotionally. Finally after 3 years I’m feeling the fog of it lift and can sit back and watch them create their little magical worlds.

  19. HeatherL says...

    I liked newborn to about 12 months. I had a tiny baby and she was easy to carry everywhere. And she was a good sleeper! We took great naps together! We snuggled! I’m not one of those people who puts a lot of pressure on themselves to get a ton done, and the baby was really my sole focus during maternity leave. People like to say that maternity leave is not a vacation but….mine was! It was the most rest I’ve had since I started working. Also, I just found baby time easy-she was pretty clear about her needs (feed me, change me, snuggle me, sleep me) so not a lot of frustration. I had a hard time once she was on the move (fast!) and trying to talk and couldn’t express herself as well (tantrums) and then every age since has been much less peaceful for me than that baby time.

    • Erica B says...

      I’m glad I’m not the only baby person! My little man was a preemie, so he was super tiny. I loved maternity leave and miss it with every inch of me. Was I tired? Sure, but it was worth it. Having this tiny little perfect nugget of a person was the best, even with 2 weeks in the hospital and PPD/PPA. He’s 9 months today, a big ole chunker, and with now being mobile he’s all “i’m a big boy i cant do everything”-tantrum throwing-launching himself all over, he’s still my favorite person, but he’s alot more exhausting and I miss my little potato of a person!

  20. Melissa Bruno says...

    I do not have a biological child, but I have an amazing stepson (now 15). We entered each others’ lives when he was 9, & to me, THIS was the best age. He still “believed” in everything & I could celebrate any & everything with him– we did Cinco De Mayo Parties, monthly friends dinners, half birthdays & more; ALWAYS met with excitement. He showed me a short glimpse of how that age of innocence shaped ME as a step-parent. I feel so lucky to know what it feels like to believe in Santa, Easter Bunny, & the Tooth Fairy–from his perspective. I miss it so much. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I get a smile & a shoulder shrug “meh, sure.”

  21. Mouse says...

    I never had children and sometimes I wonder if a small part of that choice was because I have no connection to infants. I just never had that baby-love thing. I like it when they talk. I love teenagers: I love watching and helping them find themselves becoming adults. Or adult-ish. :) I’m good at riding that line between giving information and allowing people to find the way to use it, with a little oversight. I am bad at making all the decisions, despite being fairly bossy. I don’t like having to be intuitive, even though I suspect that I often am.
    I’m now a university professor so I guess I landed in the right place.

  22. rachel says...

    “Take their worries and joys seriously,” and I try my best to do so…..this made me burst into tears xxxxx

  23. Cherie says...

    I’d say ages 7 – 10 are the golden years, but I’m also enjoying the tween and teen years. My two are 12 and 15, and (while those squishy baby rolls are adorable) life now is so much easier than the baby and toddler years!

  24. Beth says...

    I love babies but my god, toddlers are a slog. If I could hand them over to some sort of toddler farm when they’re 1 and get them back when they’re 4 and able to listen to reason, that would be ideal! XD

    • Lauren says...

      I just had to say this is my favorite comment! I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old so I completely relate to that sentiment!

  25. Anna says...

    So interesting! Obviously spending a whole lot more time with my 3 and 1 year old girls at the moment so parenting questions are right at the forefront. I have to say that i find so much joy in them individually but together the combination is tough!! Does anyone else have a two year age gap. Does it get easier??? (Please!)

    • Erin says...

      My girls are 21 months apart (currently 4 and 3) and we have a 4 month old. Once our middle was just about 2, the girls could play so well together independently. Now they keep each other busy for hours!

    • Rebekah says...

      I have a 22month age gap between my girls! They are 5 and 7 now, and love each other so much! They scream & bicker but they also spend hours doing origami, riding bikes, making up imaginary friends…the oldest one reads to the younger one. It’s still hard work but they are delightful together. As I type this, they’re giggling in bed over some “shadow puppet story” they just made up for themselves.

      It didn’t just happen. We’ve worked a lot on gentle words, cooperation, not insisting on their own way…they are fiery little girls but are learning to use that fire FOR each other, not against. ;)

  26. Ceridwen says...

    I have always thought about your mum’s quote. It’s really helped me be a better parent.

  27. Simone daher says...

    I ADORE the newborn phase.
    Everything about it I loved. I have said you could hand me a newborn now in isolation and I would be so content!
    Not a fan of toddlers or really young kids..: give them back to me when they are around 10 and still affectionate and think you are still ok to hang out.
    Teenagers – they have their moments but I mostly do love them!
    Let’s face it – we may not alway like them but man we love them fiercely!

  28. Barbara says...

    I am definitely in the baby category. Especially bald babies. I love 0-1 for the many stages and changes that you can see every day. Even though my boys are now 16 and 19, I can recall reading to them while we rocked in the chair, sleeping with them in my bed and all the mommy/baby bonding that is so special and life changing.

    That pic of your dad and family so neat–well choreographed photo.

  29. JoAnne H Anderson says...

    I have four children that are grown and fabulous (whew, thank goodness, I know I worked too much in the world of finance). I think your life circumstances really determine how much you enjoy different ages/stages.
    I loved the newborn phase with my first two but then was too overwhelmed to really focus on it with my 3rd and 4th. Love kids in elementary years, middle school years are tricky, and high school is great. Then they are off to find their place in the big world…

  30. knflickinger@gmail.com says...

    I could not stand the newborn phase. Frankly, I’m amazed humanity has continued after the invention of birth control. I will not be suckered in to have another newborn.

    That said, I’ve found my little girl just keeps getting better and better all the time. I don’t know if there will be an end to this pattern. My mom doesn’t think so. In the nicest compliment I’ve ever received she indicated that she hasn’t seen a dip in that trend over the last thirty-six years. I hope I can agree at some point.

  31. Anne says...

    I never had kids but I’m a pediatric occupational therapist. I enjoy them at every age, and I LOVE working with kids between 3 and 7. They’re so funny and surprising! My Facebook feed is full of hilarious anecdotes from my work day. My all time favorite was when I asked a four year old boy, while we were playing space invaders, if he had spotted any bad guys robbing banks on Mars. He answered no, but he could see some roller skating on Uranus.

    My niece has five kids, the three oldest ones are 3, 5, and 7, and I just love going over there and playing with them. Of all the things I miss and look forward to doing the most when things go back to normal, it’s reading to them while they sit on my lap.

  32. Sara Gorrell says...

    2-5 year olds all the way! I work with kids in a museum and love talking to this age group about what they are creating OR what they see in an artwork!

  33. Julie says...

    Joanna, please please please tell us the story of the photo! I love that they had a pony and a spaniel! Where is it? Is that your Aunt Lulu and grandmother who now live in Cornwall? Where was the photo taken? How did you father make his way to the US? Is he the eldest? It’s an entire post!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      You’re so sweet! Lulu is the little cute sitting on the slanted banister thing. My grandmother is the mom of course :) my dad is the oldest child and he came to the US to go to college at William and Mary xoxoxo thank you for asking!

  34. Julee says...

    My oldest is ten, My youngest is 5 months old. I’ve been a mother for all this time to now four children.
    The surges of independence/defiance that come every few years (and probably until they leave home?) are difficult for me.
    I can’t pick a stage I’m best at or enjoy most.

  35. Courtney says...

    I’ve always been good with kids, so when I had my first I was totally thrown for a loop when it didn’t just click right away. But now, by kid three, I am a PRO at babies. Give me all the babies! I can get your baby to sleep, to burp, to stop crying … whatever. I have spidey sense when it comes to why they’re crying and I can just get them to chill out.

    I love the toddler phase, especially when they can start communicating and then in the 4s and 5s with their little observations and questions. Things start going downhill a bit for me from there. I remember the point where I looked at my kids and I realized I didn’t know every single thing about them anymore–they have their own little lives. So the attitude can get a little rough, but I try to remember that I felt and acted the same way at that age, and have some patience.

  36. Jessica F Rollin says...

    I have thought about this WAY too much. I love weeks 1-4 when they are so new and sleepy and magically helpless and the wonder of their arrival is fresh. Then, I’d like a swift fast forward to when they can sit up and play with things. The rolly polly new skills all the time months from 8-14 are awesome. Then again, fast-forward to 2 years old, skip 3 years old, and land forever in the joyful land of 4-7. I think I enjoy them the most when I feel the most adept so these must be my good spots. If ANYONE has good questions to ask the 11-18 set, please pass along. I’m always awkwardly asking my teenage niece and nephew ‘how’s school’ and I hate that.

    • Older Sister ? says...

      I’m 25 and VERY far away from having kids of my own, but my sister is 16. I think a pretty safe bet Is to ask them to explain tiktok to you. ? That led my sister and I to talk for awhile. Also, if you have a particularly cerebral niece or nephew, ask them for their opinion on tiktok being the first Chinese based social media app to take the US by storm. Social media is a very integral aspect of this demographic’s life. It’s also a very broad topic that can be tailored to suit different personalities. You can ask questions ranging from help me make an account to follow cute dogs to how do you feel this stuff is affecting your life growing up. If they do in fact help you make an account to follow cute dogs, then you can send them adorable posts every once in awhile with a nice message about how you’re thinking of them and hope alls well. ?

    • Kerri Lowe says...

      I’m a social worker at a children’s hospital and adolescents are some of my favorites. They can tell when you’re trying to be cool or in general trying too hard and will call your bluff.

      School is their world, so after getting the shrug in answer to your “how’s school” question, I’ll usually ask them how their teachers are. There’s always one that’s more tolerable and one that doesn’t respect them as the adults they’re turning into. Showing them that their opinions matter goes a long way! Even if it’s just for the few minutes they’re willing to talk to you, they remember that you listened and how it made them feel.

    • Nina says...

      No expert on teenagers but you can try varying the school question by being more specific – what’s the best/worst/most surprising/most tedious thing about school [maybe even *this week*], which teacher do you like the most and why, for the older ones: what subject would you drop right now and never think of again if you could, etc. Ask them for recommendations – books, films, TV, music, places to visit, what colour should you paint your living room… Get them to help you fix a problem with your phone!

    • Mom of teenagers and former high school teacher here: I find that I have to ask several questions to get them talking sometimes – what are you doing outside school? Where are you hoping to get a job? How’s your friend/grandma/pet dog? etc. etc. and then really listen to them with respect, finding new little conversational avenues as they talk. (Younger teenagers also like bizarre dilemma questions: if you had to eat slugs or mud, which would you choose? If you could only have one of your five senses, which one. . . etc. “Ice breaker” questions) And also being respectful if they simply are not in the mood to talk. They like respect! And will reward your respect with confidences over time.

    • d says...

      We have a family friend who’s great with teens. Last time he was here he asked my teenagers what they are most proud of since he saw them last–they opened right up! I couldn’t believe it.

    • Rusty says...

      Tiktok is known to be a super-fun, data gathering tool for the Chinese political party.
      Aussies have been hitting delete! since that knowledge came out @ 2 months ago! Yikes!

  37. Danielle says...

    Newborn to a year, not too bad with toddlers, not so good with the chatty stage but okay-ish with teenagers. I am best at baby to 5, I think.

  38. Sara Campbell says...

    While challenging in a different way, I LOVE having teenagers. I have 15 year old twins, and the conversations that we get to have at this age are amazing. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.

  39. Caitlin L. says...

    I don’t have kids yet, but from years of babysitting as a teenager and hanging out with my nieces, I think my favorite stage will be similar to yours – I loved babysitting for a 9 year old girl back in the day and sharing my favorite books and talking like we were equals. I remember long conversations about where she would want to get her prom dress <3 It was so sweet and I've always remembered how it felt! I also love babies around like 6 month stage when they are starting to become chunkier and less fragile feeling.
    Side note – can't believe I have been reading your blog for so many years! I was introduced when my friend told me photos of me from StyleMob were on this wonderful blog he read. Still one of my proudest moments now knowing so many CoJ fans! https://cupofjo.com/2008/03/style-inspiration-caitlin/

    • Caitlin says...

      Caitlin- (hello fellow Caitlin!) I hear you on the 9 year old age. It’s the best. My 9 year old niece sent me a postcard this past week with ideas of things to do if I get bored at home. At the very bottom: “I don’t know if you like slime, but all you need is glue, (glitter if you wish) and water and baking soda and saline solution!” Oh, my heart. That sweet, earnest, pure kid-ness made me cry. She is simply the best. 9 is awesome. I have a feeling she’s going to be awesome at every age though.

    • Elena says...

      How cool! I’m totally jealous of your pink cheeks! =)

  40. Annie K. says...

    Here I am, back again to ask for comfort: Please, someone tell me it gets easier after age 3.

    My daughter is such an objective delight – bright, joyous, people-loving. And also she drives me crazy! And I feel so guilty that she drives me crazy! She asks questions non-stop from the time she wakes up until the time she goes to bed, is super sassy, is super sensitive to pain, frustration and disappointment (which leads to exceptionally loud crying screaming meltdowns).

    Does anyone have a sensitive 3 yr old that is now older and things have smoothed out?

    My one year old is a delight. I think I’m best at newborn – 2 years old, but man I hope some serious skillz surprise me soon. I don’t want to be irritable for the next 17 years and have a relationship with my kids that shows it.

    • Kate says...

      I do! My now 7 year old was once that 3 year old. I still shudder to remember a wild meltdown following “Papa Smurf” flavored ice cream that ended in her crying so hard she threw up all over her bedroom floor. (And as the name suggests, it was really blue.) She is an amazing 7 year old. Still sensitive, but in a way that helps her notice whenever anyone in the family needs a hand, that has her writing letters and sending Easter candy to all her friends from quarantine, and that – no kidding – prompted her to write a letter to the mailman thanking him for working while we stay home. Her sensitivity is her superpower.

      And you know, that may not make it easier. I also have a 2 year old who is a lot like her sister was. She is also a feisty delight who drives me absolutely crazy and makes me question my parenting daily. I try to take it one slog-of-a-day at a time. And it also helps me to remember that, while I’m working hard to keep her clean and fed and safe and kind, she’s also working hard to process all the new, to do the work of becoming an amazing 7 year old and, here’s hoping, human.

    • Marianne says...

      Newborns to 3-4 year olds are my thing. I feel like I knew what I was doing. It wasn’t always easy, (hello 3 year olds) but I felt confident in myself as a parent. Now with a 10 yr and 15 yr old I’m swimming most days. Trying to figure it out and making lots of mistakes I’m sure!

    • Jaime Jones says...

      My daughter turned 4 in February and over the past month or so has transformed into a much more thoughtful, lovely little person who I can have an actual conversation with (sometimes), who listens (usually), and who doesn’t freak out every time she stubs a toe. It’s so much better. It did take a lot of coaching and some time-outs along the way.

    • Valerie says...

      3 is tough. My son seemed to almost just flip a switch one day – now he is so much more confident and independent (he turned 4 in January). So, yes, it does get better! The constant questions are still there and I try my best to not get annoyed but it is sooo exhausting. I also have a very talkative 2 year old so I tell the older one to ask what his brother thinks ?

    • Lucy says...

      As a mom of twins who had two three year olds at the same time (oh joy!), I am here to tell you it absolutely gets easier. My girls are now six and are a joy to be around. Sure, we have our moments, but the constant attention required by toddlers, not to mention the control battles, is exhausting! This dissipates slowly and at six, they are still very snuggly and sweet with me. But also a lot more independent. Hang in there, mama! You are doing a great job.

    • Elle says...

      Annie K. I feel your pain! I have 3 children – my oldest daughter and middle son both were amazing 2-year-olds (I was so smug the first time around thinking we’d been such awesome parents or had gotten such an awesome child, we skipped the “terrible twos” – HAH!). But they were really terrible 3-year-olds. I mean, I adored them. But I recited that poem about the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead under my breath all the time….for a year. Twice.

      I’ll never forget when I had a baby strapped to me in the library and my then 3-year-old daughter was being argumentative and surly and ramping up for a fit. The kindly librarian asked how old she was. Embarrassed that my child was old enough to behave better and wasn’t, I said, “She’s just turned 3. And I thought 2 was supposed to be tough!”

      She said, “My daughter was the same way. The Therrible Threes, we called it.”

      And that was all it took to shift my thinking. It wasn’t that my child was awful or I was an awful parent or that I didn’t like being a parent. Just knowing other three year olds are sometimes terrible and it’s a passing phase made a world of difference to me!

      My Therrible Three year olds are now 11 and almost 8 and the very best people I know. My just-turned-4-year-old, on the other hand…. Are Ferrible Fours a thing?!

      With patience and boundaries and some growing up she’ll be over it soon and you’ll be able to look back on this frustrating stage with humour and some fondness. : )

    • KA says...

      Passed down from my wise, wise mother, I am a believer in the other half of this theory. Parents might have an age they are particularly good at parenting, but each child also has an age that they are particularly challenging. My mother will tell you I was the WORST 12 year old. (It’s true!) and that my brothers were hard at 5-6 and 19-20 respectively. For my own kids, my easy baby has proven to be a handful of a toddler (more trips to the ER for stitches than I care to tally!). I feel confident that this is his hard age. My others, we’ll see… I’m secretly hoping that my kiddos all have their worst year before they get too big (bigger kid, bigger problems, as they say). Maybe this is just your 3 year old’s hard year?

    • Rachel says...

      It gets better!! My 4 going on 5 year old is such a joy to be around. She was so hard 2-3.5, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. Hang in there.

    • Alison I Rodriguez says...

      Oh hi. Hi, hi, hi, hi. Please check out the book “The Highly Sensitive Child” – I have found it so helpful in working with my almost 4 year old who is very, very much how your lovely daughter sounds. Also, “How Toddlers Thrive” is great on going there with a toddler on their feelings (“I KNOW! I want ice cream too even though it’s the morning! I want to eat everything in an ice cream truck! 10 ice cream trucks! 100 ice cream trucks! All the ice cream trucks in the world!) to help them feel seen and understood. <3

    • Brittany says...

      Annie – I FEEL YOU! I have three-year-old twins and OMG. I love them both so so SO much and yet this age drains me completely to the core. I have heard it gets better at four, so I’m holding out hope for that. It has to get better, it just has to. You’re not alone.

    • Kelly says...

      Oh my gosh. Hang in there! Three has been the HARDEST age. I have a daughter That sounds very similar To yours and almost magically, when she turned 4 things started to get better by leaps and bounds. Does she still drive me crazy some days and overreact to her world in ways that baffle me? Yes. But it’s so much more manageable now. Now—her younger brother was the easiest-going little dude UNTIL HE TURNED THREE… It has inspired a saying that I now use to get through his third year, “it’s just 3, it’s just 3…” (said in the Dory “just keep swimming” cadence)
      It will get better. ❤️

    • Kate says...

      My daughter was the exact same way but then thankfully did morph into a wonderfully sweet and sensitive, yet still very strong – willed child from the ages of 5-10. However, the tween years were a little rougher and now at 16 she’s frustrating the hell out of me. Her cruelty to me and her little brother really make me question where I went wrong. I hope her sweet and sensitive heart is still hiding down in there somewhere – I miss my kind little girl so much! Someone please tell me it gets easier after 16!

    • Speaking as an almost 40 year old who was once – and still is, in many ways – that sensitive 3 year old: yes it can get better. Or easier to manage. But take her sensitivity seriously – by that I mean, what she is feeling and experiencing is real. Some of us just feel things more than others, and it won’t help anything if you try to minimize or brush off what she’s experiencing (or god forbid, tell her she’s overreacting). Just be that soft space to land, where she can work through it and figure out ways to manage and harness it, and most importantly: teach her how to put on her own oxygen mask first, as it were. Us empaths have a tendency to let other people walk all over us.

    • Simone Daher says...

      Terrible threes… it’s more real than terrible twos!
      You will come out the other end I promise xx

    • HeatherL says...

      Annie K – I had a very strong willed toddler with lots of tantrums and time outs just didn’t work for her like they seem to with the rest of the world. The only thing that worked was getting down on her level, saying “Hey, what is going on?’ hugging her and letting her talk – once she was verbal. Just the hug usually diffuses the situation too. Someone told me the goal is not for her to mind me (what I wanted) but for her to be able to handle her emotions and that helped me feel less ineffective as a parent. (I still feel ineffective, but our house is pretty peaceful and she has turned into a nice teen so…it all worked out!)

    • Christy says...

      THANK YOU for this mini-comment chain. We have been struggling with our sensitive son who turned 4 in February. There are days where we think, wow, what a great kid! It feels like we have a 6-year old! And others where we question whether he might be emotionally disturbed after throwing a 30 minute tantrum because he doesn’t want to take a bath. For some reason I thought turning 4 would be the magic cure, but it seems like it’s more of a process. Just hoping we are on a positive trajectory…two steps forward, one step back.

    • Claire says...

      Yes it gets easier, things do smooth out.
      When my son was 3 someone gave me a book called “Your 3 Year Old: Friend or Enemy?”, and I seriously needed to know. This is what the book said: There’s nothing you can do about it, it will pass, and it’s ok to leave them with a babysitter, they will treat them way better than they treat you. So since none of us can go out and the baby sitter can’t come over, in your shoes I would be looking for other distractions – screens or whatever- that allow a break. Whatever it takes. Good luck!

    • Rebecca says...

      KA is completely right. Every child has an age they find particularly difficult and it is completely different for every child!

    • Annie K. says...

      Thank you each for your responses! I am eating all these personal experiences up, including yours, Jill, as a sensitive adult. Inspired my daughter, I took Aron’s sensitivity questionnaire awhile back and I rate as a highly sensitive adult. Many mornings, I’m arguing with/trying to support a tiny person whose sensitivities are setting off mine! And I’m the grown up! And it’s STILL hard to manage my sensitivities and give myself compassion, too. Thank you again, everyone. I’ll be revisiting this thread frequently.

  41. Elly says...

    My mom was definitely a little kid mom. She was always class mom, the field trip chaperone, always there, always eager to be completely involved. And I loved it. But she did not respond well when I started showing signs of independence around age 12. She would give me guilt if one of my friends’ moms was our field trip chaperone, or if I didn’t want her to come to every single school event. Now that I’m a married adult she’s really struggling. Her whole identity is her motherhood and now that she’s no longer the center of my world, it’s very difficult for her.

    I’m trying to look at all of this objectively now that I’m looking down the road of becoming a mom in the next few years so that I can take lessons from my experience. I don’t want my child to feel guilty for wanting to do things their own way.

  42. Jules says...

    I just loooove 3 / 4 year olds. Teens make me laugh and I do enjoy hanging out with them and I love answering middle schooler questions. But you know that fun side of people that comes out sometimes when they dont care about what anyone thinks because they’re having fun? That’s what the 3 year old little people do to my otherwise pretty stoic nature. Theys my fave.

  43. Frances Eleanor says...

    Without a doubt, for me, it is being a grandmother. A very very close, nearby, hands on, adoring grandmother. Never in my life did I imagine I would feel this way and it is like magic.

  44. Megan says...

    Almost 4 is proving very challenging for me. But I love 18-24 months! I’m thinking 6 is going to be fun… Starting to read and watch more fun movies! We will see.

    • Gina says...

      Same with the almost 4 thing! Dying over here haha.

  45. Effie says...

    Oh God, I miss Sharon’s blog and her amazing sense of humor!

  46. Kristin says...

    I became a step parent to four kids in the past year and I am so glad to have skipped the baby time. Our kids range from 11-17 and I love the conversations we get to have with them because of their ages. My brain is very happy when we get to talk about what they are learning and the things they are struggling with. I guess I love the teenager stage.

  47. Jen says...

    There are two ages that I just really connect well with. I love the pre/k- kindergarten ages. They’re so funny and view the world with a sense of wonder. The other age I love is 6th and 7th graders. They’re going through so many changes, bless their little awkward hearts. They’re maturing so quickly, it’s fun to see the changes and progress they’re making.

  48. Nadine says...

    Yes, yes! (Babies scare me.) My husband & I always had the best time with the 2-3 year olds at church. There’s a lot of maturing in that time, it seemed like they were blossoming right in front of our eyes.

  49. A says...

    I’m 6 weeks away from having my first and so nervous about the newborn stage! A few months ago my mom told me “it’s ok to not love every stage your kids go through” and that was so comforting! I have 4 nieces and nephews ages 0-5 and I think they’re so much more fun when they’re 2+. I already look forward to my baby being a little older but I know I shouldn’t wish the time away.

    • Ally says...

      ME TOO! Due 5/24/2020 and already excited for 2022 when she can talk! Newborn phase terrifies me.

    • Suzie says...

      I just had a baby in October and was always adamantly not a baby person. Don’t enjoy them until they’re about 2 or 3 and start really interacting, right? But I loved the newborn stage. And I love the current (6 month old) stage. So it’s totally different than what I expected and I’m so glad. Congrats and good luck to you!

    • Mama M says...

      I know myself well enough to know I wouldn’t love the newborn stage–I have never been a “baby person” and have worked with preteens and teens my whole life–and I was exactly right! Every day of the infant stage felt long (of course with some bright spots and high points sprinkled in), but I just kept my head down and survived the first 6-12 months. I tried to be gentle with myself as it unfolded in precisely the way I expected it would. My daughter is 5 now (and she’s hilarious and lovely and stubborn and impossible), but I imagine I will only get more comfortable parenting as she gets older. The moment she started speaking in sentences changed EVERYTHING for our family, and I felt I suddenly had a person I could have real interactions with for the first time. I love that some people are surprised to like ages and stages they expected not to; I fall decisively into the category of “knowing thyself”… and it has turned out just fine, too! :)

  50. your mom’s advice is exactly it. takes me back to bedtime confessions, where questions and answers were always welcome.

  51. Give me a 1.5 – 3 year old any day! The way they talk is adorable. When they get into something they shouldn’t be in, they can be easily moved. They don’t talk back or argue. Playing is simple and everything is new and wonderful. I have an almost 6 year old – going on 16 – and it is just drama all.the.time.

    • “they can be easily moved” <– yes! Oh man it gets harder when they get heavier and more upset about you trying to physically move them. I've discovered that distracting my kids with stories works wonders. It doesn't work every time, but it's a good solid strategy. I posted about it today:
      http://www.evereadbooks.com/2016/02/how-to-charm-stubborn-toddler.html

      I don't know because I don't have teens yet, but I think I might love having teenagers. So far: the older the better! But I do seek out babies to hold… <3

    • Melisa says...

      I totally agree with you – I currently have a 1.5 year old and she is a delight! Once she hit a year old I was like, OK, this is my jam. However, I have to disagree about the talking back and arguing – she is a willful tornado and there is PLENTY of talking back and arguing! Obviously very different from teenagers, no doubt, but still a thing. Figuring out a respectful and consistent way of providing boundaries and discipline considering how willful she is is the hardest part of parenting right now, especially when her dad and I are her only source of socialization.

    • Caitlin says...

      I almost spit my water across the room at “They don’t talk back or argue”!! My two year old is non-stop back talk and arguments, in the most adorable, maddening way. “Mama, no! Beep beep!” (Aka mama back out of my business! ??)

  52. Hannah says...

    I don’t like being around babies for very long, mine or anybody else’s. I always know they could go off like a bomb, at any time, and then of course, they can’t tell you what’s wrong. I spent so many nights up all night trying to diagnose what was wrong with my son. I was 19 and so afraid and alone, as my husband, a musician, was on the road a lot, and I had no family nearby. I worried that my poor baby wouldn’t survive me! Even nowadays, I get nervous around babies, and will only be around them if their mom or dad is on the scene too.

    I like ’em 4 and any age on up. I went on to foster 4 siblings who came at 7,8,9&14 – they were almost too good, as they’d had it so rough before, that they appreciated anything they got. So now I get 5 phone calls on mother’s day, but I only had to go through one infant; perfect!

    • OO says...

      What a sweet story, Hannah! Glad those kids have you in their life. :)

    • I spent the first year of my son’s life filled with anxiety because of that ticking time bomb feeling. It was so hard and I felt like there was something wrong with ME for feeling this way. It’s reassuring to hear not everyone enjoys the baby stage.

      My son is 20 months now and things have recently started getting really fun. He’s still a handful and keeping him occupied can be tiring, especially in quarantine. But it’s so much more satisfying than caring for a baby. I have a feeling ill love it even more when he’s older and we can have real conversations. I so look forward to sitting at the kitchen table and chatting or laying on the couch and reading our own separate books, together.

  53. Jeanne says...

    I have 2 girls ages 8 and 11 and I have to confess; little babies scare me! I spent the first 6 months of their lives worrying about their floppy necks. Once they started going to kindergarten, everything shifted for me as a parent. It’s still hard, and my oldest is getting hormonal and everything I say is wrong, but I “get” them now. I love that they have their own opinions and are developing their own style. I love that they argue with me and their arguments make sense and are sometime persuasive. And I can see the results of things that I drilled into them at an early age; although at times they are trying overall they are compassionate, empathetic, kind people and I see them acting that way everyday.

    • Julee says...

      “Worrying about their floppy necks”- ahahaha. I’m a mom of four. I feel this to my bones. ?

  54. Ashley says...

    I love 4-5 year olds. They’re the perfect mix of still needing you but also very independent. They have these wonderful ideas and imaginations. To me they’re at the perfect stage of life, still innocent but the days of endless whining and crying are over. I love that I can say we’re not going to do x because y and they’re like yeah ok yeah that makes sense and they don’t. I love how toddlers are such a whirling mess with such a joy for life but man they are exhausting and the crying and whining really gets to me.

  55. Lynne says...

    Hi Joanna, I read the post on “How do you decide if you want babies” and I would really love to see a future piece where you interview older couples who decided not to have kids during their fertile years (what were their rationales? How did family/friends react?) And how they are now (do they regret their decisions 10, 20 years later? Or was it the best decision they’ve ever made? What are their lives like now? etc.)

    Thanks so much!
    Lynne

    • Samantha says...

      OMG THIS! My bf and I don’t wanna have children, and people just don’t get it. They think we’re insane and that we’ll probably change our minds. I would love to know how older couples who took the decision to not have kids are feeling about it years later. I know you are a mother, and you write a lot about motherhood and kids (to be honest, I love the posts!), but please consider it :)

    • courtney says...

      This would be a great post! My partner and I do not plan to have kids. I do not have a desire to have kids – I love kids but am completely indifferent about owning them, which I think means I shouldn’t take it on. As much as I don’t have a pressing desire to raise kids, of course now and then I think how amusing our kids would be or things like that, but I know that’s not legitimate reasoning to have them. However, the bigger thing that gets me questioning myself (and I realize how selfish this is) is the scary thought that if we don’t have kids, I will have no one to care for me in old age. We have some older friends who don’t have kids, and seeing that their lives are happy and fulfilled is comforting. I’d like to hear more from people who are retirement-age and who chose to be child-free.

    • Ali G says...

      I would volunteer to be interviewed (if you haven’t done this already since this was posted 4 years ago). We don’t have kids and haven’t regretted it.

  56. Sarina says...

    I am really enjoying reading the comments in response to this question!

    I have a 10.5 month old baby boy; he is busy, active, happy and quite independent – I do like this stage but I love the newborn / 0-6 months stage sooo much more. I think it’s because of all the snuggles and cuddles that you can have with a newborn – my little man is not much of a snuggler now, he’s too busy wanting to get on with the next thing haha.

    I love kids and have done loads of babysitting over the years – I reckon the 4-7 age bracket is pretty cool too!

  57. Jodie says...

    It’s always wildly unpopular when I say that I did not like the “infant” stage. I get looks but it is true and I wasn’t great at it. I do however, LOVE the stage we are at now and I have to say I’m killing it (for now). 5 years old is so interesting to me and like you, I do not play but we have talks and I like to take him places and see how he responds to new experiences. Thank you for writing this.

  58. bean613 says...

    Wow, thank you for posting this. I thought I was weird or a bad mom since I’m not a big fan of the newborn/infant stage. With my first, it was okay, because I didn’t know any better. With my second, I was DYING to get through the baby stage (throw in some baby blues for fun). He’s almost 18 months now and I’m enjoying him so much more now. My daughter is 4 and I LOVE IT for all the reasons you wrote about.

  59. Simone says...

    I was an amazing newborn mother…. I have all the patience in the world for them…. Babies in general…once they start toddling though, I’m just not that great…then by the time they become more independent, like 10.. I’m good again ?

    • Ramona says...

      Babies, babies, babies all the way for me too! ?? And I get how the ‘love’ can come and go with different ages. I also think it can depend on the kid’s personality/maturity if I love the age they are! (wink, wink)…just sayin’

  60. Lisa says...

    I don’t really know what my favourite stage is (especially since I’ve only had limited contact with children since being one). I didn’t like being a child (weirdo) but I do actually like children now. I lodged with a family for a few months, and they had a toddler and I LOVED it. He was so surreal and came out with the weirdest things, whereas the older children (up to age 12) were so lovely, fun to play with, interested in everything.

    I’m coming up to 37 weeks pregnant so soon (woo hoo!) I’ll have my own child to experience. People are being all doom and gloom about the newborn stage, but I can’t wait to finally meet this little person, hold them, kiss their cheeks and squish them.

  61. Thank you for saying this out loud! I keep wondering when I will hit my best stride as a mum. I’m thinking I’ll be in my element from 10+ years when you can have great conversations and they still think you’re awesome. Not sure what teen year will have them running from me!

  62. Sarah V says...

    Whoa, is your dad the kid sitting on the stoop railing? He is Toby’s twin!

  63. Becca says...

    I was just talking to my husband about this. I have a 3 month old and an almost 3 year old. it’s basically all anxiety until they are 6 months. I am loving this toddler stage – so fun to talk with my daughter! I don’t mind playing either I find it relaxing to totally be present in the moment with no worries except what to play next.

  64. Bonnie says...

    Thanks for this post! I’m pregnant with my first, and have been so scared about my approaching due date, because I am not in love with newborns. I feel like the only one who doesn’t gush and ooze love when holding the little tiny ones. But, I love kids.

    (This means I’m gonna be ok. Right? Riiight?)

    • leigh says...

      right :)

    • Amy K says...

      I was never a baby person, ever. But my own little? Totally different! That said, my son is now five, and the infant stage was my least favorite. Might have something to do with the lack of sleep…

  65. I needed this post and it’s wonderful comments! Thank you.

    I like how we can feel comfortable enough to say, “Eh, I’m not keen on this age, but I love…”

    I’ve been struggling with the 2 1/2 year old stage. I thought I’d be the mom who loves to play with toys, but I’m having a hard time with it lately and I’ve been feeling bad. I honestly think me and him need to learn how we play best with each other.

    Thankfully we can spend all day cuddling and reading books together: )

  66. I’m out of the baby phase.. my little guy turned two and I am not feeling it.. I prefer my 5 year old… where as you said we can talk, read, play board games rather than the kiddie nonsensical variety..

  67. I definitely like infants, my baby boy Charlie will be one year old on the 28th, and I am excited, but at the same time, I missed my baby when he is tiny.

  68. I adore babies, probably the reason why I have five children! I have no specific age, I love them as babies, I love toddlers, and I love the emerging enquiring mind of a 9 year old. But now having three teenagers along with a 9 year old and 11 year old I find I also love having teenagers in the house, yes you read that right, I love teenagers! They are such fun to sit around the dinner table with, our conversations are enriching, I learn as much from them as they do from me. I think all ages are fabulous, they all have their good points and bad points, but in general I love it all!

  69. katie says...

    LOVE newborns.

    My daughter is 6.5yo now and to me, it is PAINFUL. This has been a really rough year for us, age wise. She’s always been very strong willed, but now she has her own opinions about things and seriously.. it’s just all around not so great for me. I can’t wait until this particular phase ends. Soon, please.

  70. I am a better mom now to my toddler than I was when she was a baby. I was a spaz when she was younger and never felt comfortable/confident being out with her so we stayed home a lot. Now I enjoy taking her out to explore and I love everything about her.

    I realized this theory after watching my sister in law. She is ahhhmazing with babies. She’s like a baby whisperer! As soon as my nephews started getting older (pre-teen & teenager) I noticed she took the backseat a little & handed the reigns to my brother. It doesn’t mean she’s not a good mom. Prior to having Luna I judged her for this. Now that I am a mom, I understand!!

    Lendy
    http://www.twoplusluna.com

  71. Elsapoe says...

    I’m especially good at the, learning to talk but not quite saying words yet, grips their little hand around your finger, and just figured out they can move around on their own a little bit. I love this age, and babies always like me, I don’t know why.

  72. Rachel S. says...

    My baby is now 14 months, but the second is already on the way! As crazy as it all was, I’m really looking forward to the baby stage again. I just loved it so much. I feel like my husband is really getting to shine now as he loves playing and tackling our son now, where as I don’t feel I’m as good at that. It’ll be interesting to see how it keeps changing as he gets older and begins talking.

  73. Emma says...

    As a very experienced babysitter and au pair: newborns for their total dependence–they are all-absorbing and that intensity is its own reward for me. But also kids ~5-10–for their independence. I used to love getting down on the floor and playing with toddlers, but I find that mind-numbingly boring now.

  74. Courtney says...

    I love the newborn/baby stage where they are so cuddly and love to sleep and eat and not much else. But I am also an 8th grade teacher and though middle school is rough and weird, these kids are awesome. So I think that stage will be cool too. I am NOT a player either, I love that you said that!

  75. Shannon says...

    “Hello evening, I missed you this morning” How sweet is that?!
    I appreciate the advice your mom gave you about taking their joys and worries seriously. I think this is exceptional advice in encouraging self-awareness and individuality and not creating anxiety in a child.
    I loved the newborn stage and I miss it fiercely. Toddlerhood has it’s challenges. Oh, the tantrums and the tantrums and the power struggle to become an independent to name a few. But I do love watching my son grow and explore his world with such wonder and amazement in his eyes. His love of books I am very proud of and my heart swoons when he uses his imagination while we are playing and spending time together. I could do without the occasional biting and hitting but they say that will pass. Right? That will pass.

  76. Amanda says...

    I have a two-year-old daughter right now. It’s my favorite. With every new phase/age, “it’s my favorite.” We are expecting another the firs of June, and my anxiety is kicking in. I remember finally relaxing a bit and enjoying being a parent when my daughter was about 7-8 months old. I’m looking forward to the day they will be 5 and 2!

  77. Ashlyn says...

    That is just the gosh-darned sweetest thing that Toby said. It makes my heart ache, and I want to capture it and remember it forever… so I can only imagine how you feel about that moment!

  78. Linda says...

    I luuuuuurve babies, but I think I’m getting much better at teenagers, now that I have one and will soon have two. I love seeing the humans they are becoming, and they both crack me up daily.

  79. Emily says...

    I love the teenage years (13 and 17), but this time in their lives feels so bittersweet. They have become so interesting, so engaged in the world, but on the verge of flying away. While on a flight earlier this month, my daughter held my hand to comfort me (I’m a fearful flyer when I fly with my kids). I didn’t realize how much I had missed her touch.

    • Carolyn says...

      That is lovely. I have a 12 and a 15 year old and they are such wonderful company. I don’t want them to fly away either but I can’t wait to see the adults they become.

  80. I am melting at the “Hello evening” comment! My daughter is in what they call Emerging Adulthood, but I can recall all her seasons of her life as if they were yesterday. Teens tough – but still gifts along the way because she is a strong, independent young woman in a highly-conformist high school and I’m glad we didn’t have the resources to send her away so we could navigate those seas together as a family.

  81. I mean, all ages come with their pros and cons, but I feel like we’re in a really sweet spot right now with 6 and 9. They are old enough to tie their shoes and dress themselves (sometimes it takes awhile, but…), the six year old is slowly becoming less sociopathic egomaniacal, the nine year old is thoughtful and independent – does his own laundry, takes care of the dog – but he’s still cuddly and likes me. That’s a plus – both of my children still think their parents are THE BEST. I’m trying to savor this.

  82. Allison says...

    I love the teens! By far my favorite.

  83. B says...

    my mother always used to say ‘every parent has their favorite stage’
    and as a parent now two little girls, I totally agree!!

    I LOVE the stage when they sleep through the night, but are still babies and you can take them anywhere and they are happy on your lap playing with a spoon.
    I find sitting on the floor and playing with my kids is a real challenge for me, my husband can do it for hours, but I have zero patience.

  84. Kaela says...

    This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think we are all good at whatever we put our heart into. We learn and grow with our children and if we earnestly try to connect at every age and stage, we will. I am good with my infant, I am good with my two year old, and I am good with my six year old and I look back at all these stages with love. I think we only have to try to connect and they are on the other end, really really wanting that attention. Just a thought.

    • Mary Beth says...

      Agreed :) Enjoy every minute, always be patient (there is really no age where patience is not needed), be grateful for the life you created, cherish the time spent together. There are joys and challenges at every age. It’s how you deal with your own insecurities that makes the difference. Love, love, love and extra kisses when you are angry!

      But what do I know… I only have a 10 month old! Love reading others’ thoughts.

  85. I think I’m good with the 3-5 crowd because I love their silly sense of humor :)

    My nieces are that age and I love how easily I can make them giggle by saying things like “So guys, what are we eating for dinner? Are we eating… socks? No? Are we eating… crayons? No? Hmm, how about worms? No? Oh alright, I guess we can eat pasta.”

  86. Sophie says...

    Thank you for this. I always felt a little guilty because I didn’t love playing with Legos or video games. Luckily their dad is a kid at heart and he was able to fill in the gaps.

    By the way, those quotes from Toby and your mom? Pure gold.

  87. Samantha says...

    Liberating post for sure! I have 11 year old twins and an 8 year old (all girls). Ages 7 & up have become increasingly more enjoyable with all three. My twin daughters are still inseparable in a good way so I often feel like an outsider to their world. I keep telling myself to be available but to give them space. I hope they know they can come to me – for good things and bad. I anticipate enjoying the teenage years (minus hormones) and young adult years. It is thrilling to see who they are becoming. Thanks for a great post!! Great advise from your Mom also!

  88. I loved the newborn stage for about 5 minutes, but am finding I really enjoy the kids now that they’re older. Like you, I don’t always enjoy the somewhat dull toys and now that my kids are talking and observing so much more and love reading I’m having much more fun.

  89. Joanna says...

    Oh Joanna, this has come at a perfect time for me. I have a nearly 3 year old and a 4 month old and I recently had a similar conversation with my Mother, who kindly pointed out that nobody is good at everything, and that is especially true in parenting! I am so bad at playing with my toddler, I find it really dull and struggle to show enthusiasm and it makes me feel so guilty (my husband is amazing at it which makes the guilt worse!) I love the newborn, baby stage when it’s all gentle whisperings and cuddles. I never feel anxious around teeny ones, but toddlers, oof. My friend has a 5 year old who calmly plays alone and has sweet conversations with her and without wishing to rush life, I can’t wait for that stage with my son!

  90. Sara says...

    I adore the baby stage, it’s the only stage (now that my daughter is turning 4 in a few weeks) where I was able to really coddle her, hold and embrace her for longer than 2min at a time, keep her close to my heart for many hours and talk to her softly about life and what she was missing when her eyes were shut during those delicious naps. She is changing weekly so I’ve been able to now enjoy helping her read, do craft projects, playing games with better understanding of rules at this stage in her life, and just really being able to have a conversation with her knowing she understands what I’m saying/expressing more and more. The baby stage happens so quickly, if you blink you miss it and soon they are these little people that are just a tad more headstrong and challenging, but definitely another level of fun. :)

  91. Toddlers!!!! I love the stage that my kiddos are now! The wonder with everything around them. The way that they are still so impressed by the world, and curious. I have two year old boy/girl twins and they thrive of off each other. We were leaving a friends house after watching the a football game, (its dark maybe 8ish) my daughter gets out of the car and says ‘Mommy we broke the moon!!!!!!!!’ (its a waning moon) My son jumps in and say ‘yeah mama, we broke -ed-did it.’ My poor children are broken hearted about the moon. And my husband and I are trying not to die of their cuteness.

    • Jay says...

      That is so sweet :)

  92. Julia says...

    My sons just turned 7 and 4. I adore it when they ask me about the world, life and death, how things work. And I find it a real privilege (and a challenge!) to be the one to figure out short and sensible answers. In a few years I will certainly miss this stage of childhood!

  93. Aileen says...

    I am not a player mum either, mostly because she doesnt “play” in the way my adult brain wants her too! I am not particularly arty crafty either but I do like sitting down with paints and play dough. My favourite age has to be from about 2-4. I wasnt good with newborns, whilst I loved my baby, I didn’t like the not knowing, the lack of sleep, the not being able to communicate etc. I am definitely a mum that likes to get out for walks, playing in the park, running along the beach, reading books and talking. I love this stage :)

  94. Irene Marx says...

    Dear, Joanna,

    I love reading your posts! They are always intelligent and mindful. Alway doing something with me.
    The thoughts you write about, I have them so often! Having three children it was hard work going threw the toddler time. Really not my cup of tea!
    Now, as they grow older (my youngest just became 6), they have those themes which I can remember where overwhelming in my childhood. Yesterday my son asked about the sin of life. He is 10 and I remembered those burning questions coming up sometimes.

    The little one said, that she does not want to marry. She wants a dog and a smart (car), but unfortunately it has so little space in it, so she can’t have any children… But when I get old, she would pick me up at “my old-people-place” and go for a coffee with me. But I also could have a whine, if I would prefer that….
    Cute and overwhelmingly sad, having children…

    Please write more! It is so enriching!

    Irene

  95. Natasha says...

    Hi Joanna! Thank you so so much for this post. It’s so liberating to think you don’t have to be amazing at all stages of your child’s life. I also struggle to play, but like you, adore the outings we take with our son, the mealtimes, the stories, the bedtime routines. Once again, your blog has lifted me up! xo

  96. Abigail says...

    That’s a great question. My mom admitted to me in my adult years that she resented having children but has loved having adult children. It was difficult to conceive at first since my memories of my mother were never dark, but it made me question my relationship with her through those memories. She resented me, but I never knew, and I loved her intensely. I still love her. She is a tough woman who has become my best friend. Now I have two daughters and I don’t want to resent any age. I want to celebrate them wholly where they are. But I agree about newborns, and I had easy newborns. They just make me feel uneasy. Anything from 6 months on is my favorite. I also teach middle school, and I look forward to that age even though most find that age to be cringe-worthy for understandable reasons. But they are also some of the best humans I know because of their brutal honesty and tender souls. I can’t wait to love my girls when they are at that age. Really I love every age.

  97. Titi says...

    I dont have kids of my own yet but my baby sister is 18 years younger than me, I remember loving her “sincerity” throughout the age of 3 – 6 where to me she felt like a mini adult, super adorable. I love this post, such a heart warming topic!

  98. This is also a recurring thought for me! (Especially during rough phases!) My child is 3 but so far the 3months-18months age was a sweet spot for us.

  99. I love the 3-5. They say the sweetest/funniest things, are pretty independent (dress themselves, clean up,) but the world is a pretty magical place. My 6-year-old is the sweetest, but the magic phase is almost over for her. But I do get to have really wonderful conversations with her. I just love those post 2 year-old/years, tantrum years, when you have a little buddy to explore with! I do like the newborn cuddly stage, but it’s so exhausting. And 6-9 months is really fun too!

  100. K says...

    On the flip side, my mother has always said that each child has an age that they are especially tricky at (she means, there is an age when your child will be THE WORST). Thinking back, I can identify mine immediately (12) and I can also identify my brothers’ (4-6, and 22). So, maybe this makes it look like my mom was really good at the other ages…or maybe it was just us all along. As for me, I love parenting 4-8 year olds — crafts, conversations, and enjoying the things that don’t really exist unless you are that age (zoos, PG movies, Dahl, rainbow loom), but these do not seem to be my daughters “tricky” ages, so maybe there’s something to that…

  101. Debbie says...

    I am not a fan of infants and I can handle only small bursts of toddles. I love teens. This is by far my most favorite stage. As a therapist I see a lot of teens and I always feel productive when working with them. Whether they are angry or agreeable.

  102. Johanna says...

    Your mom sounds so wise and so lovely. What happened to that “ask my mom” series? I hope you’ll still do it! I like her a lot.

  103. My personal best is newborn to about 2/3. Really do love it and glad I spaced my kids so I could savor it. My kids are currently 2, 8, 12, 15, 17, & 22. There are cool things about all ages and teens don’t seem particularly harder personality wise than the rest, but my goodness is it hard to be the parent of teens/ young adults. It is just tears me up watching them really get to know the ups and downs that are life. It really is so much easier when all I had to do was pick them up or stick a breast in their mouth and the world was perfect.

  104. Not too long ago, I wrote about this on my blog (https://hebrewdawn.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/the-challenge/). I confessed that I’m not great with toddlers. Having another child and having to do the toddler years again makes me anxious. I keep reminding myself it won’t be that way forever and then I get to the fun 3s and 4s.

  105. NancyD says...

    As a teacher, I loved first graders, 6 and 7 year olds, the best. I loved watching their brains develop, hearing them talk through problems, and learning to read and write. But as a mom, I’ve got to say that it has been the young adult years, from about 17 or so on, that has been my favorite. I used to say that it’s just about the time that you start to really, really like your teenagers that they leave home. It’s so wonderful to see your children become the kind of adults you always hoped they would be!

  106. Not a parent yet, but I’ve been a toddler teacher for the past almost five years and I’m VERY comfortable with that 18 to 30 month age range. They’re so crazy but so much fun, and I love watching them figure things out.

  107. Melinda says...

    I totally agree! Of course everyone loves babies but I don’t love the baby stage, so I’m trying to have all my kids really close in age and get this stage over with at once. I know it may sound bad, but I can’t wait to interact with my kids more when they are toddlers/preschoolers! I think that’s my favorite age. I have lots of fine motor skills activities, games, handmade felt food, etc. lined up for them that I can’t wait to try!

  108. Melanie says...

    My son is 13, and while some of the independence and watching him grow more adult-ish every day (high school!!!) is great, I shine as a mom from 1-ish up to 4-ish. I loved crawling around in the floor, messy art projects, beach time smashing sand castles, endless picture books, singing awful toddler songs… That was probably the most fun period of my life so far and I still miss it!

  109. our couples therapist, who also works frequently with children and adolescents says this all the time. her theory is that you enjoy and excel while parenting your own kids while they’re at the age/stage that YOU felt most supported. does that make sense? kind of interesting, either way.

    • Sunna says...

      What a fascinating theory! I’ve never heard that before..

    • Lou says...

      This observation just hit me right in the heart!
      Mine are at an age that I am finding more frustrating than fun (pre-teens) and when I look back on my childhood it was a time where there was a new baby and toddlers needing attention in our family and I definitely felt left alone and unsupported.
      Thank you for posting this, a real opportunity to reflect on my approach to parenting this age (and beyond!).

    • Laura C says...

      That’s very, VERY interesting. I think it can be true.

  110. SJ says...

    I have a boy who’s 4 and a baby girl who’s 6wks old. The 3-4yo stage is my favorite as my child would invent quirky stories, tell me about events that went on in school and most importantly, communicate verbally. He’s currently into lighsabres and is a big Darth maul fan lol

    The NB stage drives me nuts with the crying, breast engorgement, endless worrying and unpredictability. I wish to myself, and my girl, for her to grow up faster.

    I’m not a play-er Mom too. I find magnatiles and Lego so boring. I prefer to bring him to the playground where he gets to sweat it out while I cheer him on from the bench. I also enjoy talking to him, taking him on walks and reading books over and over.

    • LeAnn says...

      I am so glad to hear you all say that! I just can’t get into the playing, building, etc. I want to go outside and kick the soccer ball around

  111. Brianna says...

    I’ll take ’em until they turn 11 and then I want to return them.

    I’m not a parent, but I’ve been working with kiddos of all ages since I was 12 (I’m 33 now, so I could have parented a lot of kids at this point). My favorite age is 18 months-3. Three year olds are tough – they’re really emotional and I can’t handle that because they stop communicating, even though they know how at that age.