Romper

The Real Reasons I Love Being The Parent My Kids Go To For Everything

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

Nearly every morning, I wake up to my 5 year old and 3 year old staring me down at the side of my bed. By the time they come to get me up, my husband is already long gone at work. I put my finger to my lips to shush them as I sneak out of the bed where the baby sleeps at my side. They need breakfast and Netflix and potty time, and I am the one they must come to. My kids come to me for everything because to them, I am the go-to parent, the fulfiller of every request, the pacifier of every qualm, and I love it.

Even in the evenings, when my husband is home and capable of taking on the brunt of parenting duties to give me a break, they still come to me first. If the kids want to go outside, they’ll ask me to find and put on their shoes. When they want a snack, they’ll come track me down, even if Daddy is in the kitchen right next to the bananas they so desperately want. Sometimes I wish my kids would just give me a little break and let my husband be the go-to parent for a while. Even for an hour. Any sort of break would be welcome. But even when it’s exhausting, even when I complain about it, the truth is deep down I love being the parent they go to for everything they need. I hope I always will be.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley
Then there are days where I see how quickly their faces have changed overnight, how they are growing before my very eyes, and I know that this won't last forever, and selfishly, I want to have these moments completely for myself.

I love being the one my three kids always come to, the one person they know they can count on to fulfill their needs. Even when it is constant and demanding, as it is right now, there is a certain pleasure in being so necessary to their survival. Even in the face of these thankless early years, it is nice to feel needed. I know that my role as the parent they go to for everything will likely shift as the years go on, and that the way things are now is fleeting, but I'd be lying if I said I am not savoring every minute of this aspect of our relationship.

But it's also sometimes hard to remember that this demanding season of motherhood will not last forever. Sometimes I'm jealous of the way my husband is able to go to the bathroom alone, or the way he can so easily leave the house without anyone noticing. I wish he would take on more of the immediacy of parenting: the endless applications of sunscreen, the laundry folding, the toast making. But then there are days where I see how quickly their faces have changed overnight, how they are growing before my very eyes, and I know that this won't last forever, and selfishly, I want to have these moments completely for myself.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley
They will not, and can not, come to me for every little thing in the future. Even if I want them to. Even if I am the parent they've gone to for everything all along. There are things they’ll have to figure out on their own as I watch them from a distance.

Someday soon there will come a day when they won’t need me to butter their toast and tie their shoes. They will learn to rely on themselves for the many tasks that are now my burden. Their independence will be a relief in many ways; it will also break my heart. One day I'll go to hold their hand as they cross the street, and they won’t need me. I’ll go to make them a snack, and they’ll have already fed themselves. It’s good. It’s growing up. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard.

I won’t be able to pick them up every time they fall down. I won’t be able to soothe every hurt, especially the emotional wounds of growing up — heartbreak, outgrown friendships, disappointment, failure. They will not, and can not, come to me for every little thing in the future. Even if I want them to. Even if I am the parent they've gone to for everything all along. There are things they’ll have to figure out on their own as I watch them from a distance. Today, luckily, is not that day. Today I'll be happy when they ask me to kiss every boo boo, soothe every bump, blow on every piece of hot pasta before they put it in their mouths. I'll happily tie their shoes, play one more round of Legos, and dress up in whatever outfit my daughter wants me to.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley
I want to be the person they go to when life is hard, even when I can’t magically make everything better anymore. I still want them to call me when they are in trouble or in need. I want them to know I’m always here, the ever-ready mom who's willing to be by their sides for whatever they need at a moment's notice. I want them to always know how much I love being their mother.

Even then, as they grow up, I want them to know that I am waiting on the sidelines for them to come to me when they are ready. I want to be the person they go to when life is hard, even when I can’t magically make everything better anymore. I still want them to call me when they are in trouble or in need. I want them to know I’m always here, the ever-ready mom who's willing to be by their sides for whatever they need at a moment's notice. I want them to always know how much I love being their mother.

So for now, I will let them bombard me with their neediness. I will make the snacks and tie the shoelaces and wait patiently as they lallygag on the toilet all morning. I’ll try to remember that they won’t be this little forever as they cling to my legs when I’m all touched out. I'll try to remember that, when I need a break, I'll get one — maybe 10 or 15 years down the line. I will be the person they go-to now, so I can hopefully be the person they go-to forever.