Page 1All of us engaged lovingly and exhaustively in early parenthood want to know, When does it get easier? Does the feeling of doing everything half-assed diminish when your child turns three, or six, or sixteen? Is it easier when you have only one child, or will a sibling playmate simplify matters? Does the energy you had for your marriage return at some point? Do the pace of life and the number of details to handle become more manageable?
I know you are all holding your breath, waiting for me to exclaim, "Yes! Only one more year of this torture and poof, life gets incredibly sane again! You get your body back, only skinnier! You get ample sleep and sex! You become a wonder parent, never relying on TV as a babysitter. Your memory becomes a steel trap, your values an unwavering beacon by which your child navigates all of life!"
Painfully, I have to inform you that, according to a cadre of parents with grade school- and middle school-aged rugrats, the pace does not slacken. Nor is there a reprieve from a social life made up almost exclusively of children's Saturday afternoon birthday parties.
The Wonder Years of Three and Older
However, here are the gains you can expect. At the three-year mark, a child's immunity typically strengthens and there's a reduction in the mucus torrents, ear infections, and resulting sick days. And for those of you who fear that potty training will extend into college, diapers do eventually disappear.
A toddler or preschooler is increasingly able to tell you what she wants and needs, which makes parenting requirements more straightforward. It's also a big coup the first Saturday morning your previously needy morning owl is satisfied with a bowl of cereal and watching cartoons unaccompanied.
By year three, many moms and dads grow accustomed to functioning on less sleep. Moms regain some libido, short-term memory, and mental clarity while reaping added benefits in efficiency, confidence, and creativity. And as you see your little rascals grow, make friends, learn to read, pick right from wrong, make cereal necklaces, and paint flowerpots for you, parenting becomes a richer experience. Your child begins to convey to you and to others the lessons and love you've imparted, his character traits emerging with your imprint.