This is a picture of my oldest daughter Madison and my youngest daughter Flynn. They are almost exactly 13 years apart. They look almost identical. Well, at least Flynn looks almost identical to Madison at that age. Steve and I joke that we are doing the exact same thing we did 13 years ago...raising the same child all over again. But of course, I know that isn't true. They are two very separate people who just happen to look very much alike.
They are being raised by a very different mother as well. While I may look the same as I did 13 years ago (well, alright I may be a tad heavier...!) I am a different parent to Flynn than I was to Madison. I know as an older mother, I am not as active with Flynn. It takes me a little longer to get off the floor after playing Little People with her. I sit outside and watch her and the others play ball rather than play myself. And I may encourage a bit more television snuggle time together with her as opposed to another afternoon walk. That is the reality of being blessed with a toddler at age 42.
All these things, however, are offset by the positive aspects of being an older mom. I am so much more relaxed with Flynn than I was with poor Madison. After all these years, I know that every fever isn't strep throat and every fall doesn't result in a broken bone. I know that Flynn will eventually go in the potty, and I don't need any fancy incentive kit with bright stickers to help things along. We have a potty. She plays with it. Someday she will use it. I know that if she doesn't eat carefully measured organic food from matching dishes complete with coordinating silverware, she will survive. Sometimes she even has ice cream for breakfast and a pop tart for dinner.
The parenting book I dug out when I was pregnant with Flynn sits untouched on my nightstand. When I started this wonderful journey called motherhood, I needed others to tell me how to be a good parent. Now I KNOW how to be a good mom. I have learned from my children what they really need. It isn't found in parenting books. (Although they are useful at times...like when your toddler has a weird looking rash and you totally forgot about 2-year molars.) What my children really need is me. They need a confident, relaxed, happy mommy. It doesn't matter if that mommy is 27 and pushing a stroller three times a day, or 42 and snuggling on the sofa watching Cinderella yet one more time.
Oh... and my deepest apologies to you, my dear Madison, for not allowing you to eat poptarts or watch The Rugrats. Sorry for all the unnecessary trips to the doctor. And sorry for the " no chocolate until age 4 " rule. What was I thinking!