A new phase of mothering :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

A new phase of mothering

Maria Cunningham

I remember one evening standing at the kitchen sink hearing the shower running above me, realizing that it was Catie taking a shower.  Joy (and relief) filled my mind over the fact that I now had a child who could shower on her own!!  Might seem silly to some, but for a mother of six at the time (eight and under), it was a monumental moment!  Catie's new found independence of being able to wash up at night, on her own, meant that my bedtime routine for the children was more flexible and would require less time. 

My how things have changed since then!  No, I am not rejoicing over the fact that I now have eight out of ten children who can shower on their own!  I'm realizing that my older children are becoming so much more independent, faster than I ever imagined.  I'm realizing that life is changing ... my life and our family life. 

In the midst of all this maturing and new growing independence, I still have my younger set of kids.  Figuring out how to parent them along with their older siblings is a new world for me ... it is unexplored territory. 

I was the oldest of six so I had a great deal of family life education watching and helping my parents and later single mom (my father passed away when I was sixteen) raise my siblings.  Diaper changing, bathing, feeding, cooking, cleaning, etc. all came naturally for me as a new mom because I had grown up doing it.

But I was the first to leave home for college and then the first to get married.  I did not watch my mom raise my teenage and college-age siblings with my younger siblings; and later, new baby sister.  (My mother remarried and had a baby girl!)  So juggling diapers and temper tantrums along with phone calls from college, teenage talks at night, etc. is all new to me.  I have no experience there.

This is a new stage of parenting for me.  I'm learning each day and praying for the grace to do this well.

I want to be available for my older kids when they call home.  And I want to be there for my teenagers when they want to talk.  Yet, I also want to be there to cuddle with my seven year old when he needs "mommy time".  I want to have time to take those walks around the neighborhood with them.  I want to be able to pack up a picnic lunch and head for the park at the spur of the moment.  I want to give my younger set the childhood that their older siblings had.

Realistically, though, I know that their childhood will be different.  That isn't a bad thing.  It's just a different thing.  My younger kids will have the benefit of things their older siblings never had ... like an older brother to take them fishing or treat them to an ice cream ... like an older sister to paint their nails and play dress-up with ... like and older sibling to read them a bedtime story ... like an older sister to go visit at college and sleep in her dorm. 

So, this change is good.  It's just different.  I'm learning to manage it and enjoy it!  Pray for me!

Topics: Family , Motherhood , Personal Growth

Maria Cunningham lives in Fairfax, Virginia with her husband Chuck, and their ten children.   Maria provides a look into her life as a "mom-of-many" at her blog Home Sweet Heart.

View all articles by Maria Cunningham

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