Once upon a time, I was the mother of young children. I did not think it was that long ago. But this week my two nieces, ages four and 15 months, are staying with us. It is fun. They are precious. But there are so many things about having a toddler and preschooler that I have forgotten. I suppose it has been longer than I thought.
It is so easy to forget where we once were, isn’t it? It is not so much that we forget having the experience. For example, I remember clearly the first year of my second born’s life, even though she is now well past her tenth birthday.
Yes, the experience is solidly entrenched in my memory. But the how-to of truly living out that experience has escaped me. Were I to start a year like that all over again right now, I would have to relearn the details of daily life, just as I am having to relearn how to have a preschooler and toddler in the house.
But it is not just about relearning the coping mechanisms. It is about restructuring life. Ten years ago, my life was structured to have little ones. My girls were six months and almost three. My whole schedule, routine, and home were built around having children that age.
Nowadays, I can give advice based on how I lived life back then. But, I would have to completely readjust my life to get back to that point. Nothing about where we are right now as a family is conducive to the permanent residence of young children.
We all would do well to remember that truth when others come to us for advice. Are we truly still familiar with what it takes to live certain phases of life? How much adjustment would it require? How easily could we truly step back into that role?
This week I will thoroughly enjoy my sweet nieces. Then I will send them home and life will return to normal routine. But I’m thankful for this snapshot. I’m thankful to have seen a glimpse of what would be required were we to return to toddler/preschool life. And I hope that glimpse will allow me to truly be helpful when other mothers ask me for parenting advice.