Earlier this week, I took Carter to his six monthly paediatrician appointment. Carter has a lot of appointments. He had three this week and that is fairly typical for him. This appointment his doctor asked whether we wanted to do further genetic testing by referring Carter to a geneticist. He has had genetic screening done to help determine the cause of his developmental issues, but this test only screens for the more common genetic conditions and came up with nothing.
The therapies and treatment will likely stay the same, but it would be good to know we have done all we can to find answers. The doctor also pointed out it is worth checking to see if there is a genetic cause for any future children we may have.
I quickly explained we aren't planning any more children as we have been advised my spine isn't stable enough and it would mean a very difficult life for our family. We are okay with this and although it wasn't what we planned a decade ago, we feel blessed to have Tony and Carter.
Later that afternoon, I realised we are past the 'young children' phase of life now. We don't have babies or toddlers and won't again. Our 'baby' is seven years old. It hit me a little hard as I came to the realisation we are in a different stage of parenting now.
I know each parenting stage will come with it's own challenges and learning curves, but now that we don't have babies or toddlers in our house, I feel like we have climbed out of the trenches. That was what parenting young children felt like - being in the trenches. You are exhausted, unshowered, covered in food or bodily fluids, and trying to survive. It's rough!
But there is also this weird comraddery that unites you with other parents of little ones. You just 'get' each other. You make eye contact in the supermarket, or the park, or the doctors waiting room, and with mutually glazed eyes and matching dark circles and 'Mum pony tails', you know you are battling the same war. The fight against laundry and dishes in the quest for sleep.
But there is also so much joy. Amongst the hardship, you are making and raising people! That's pretty awesome. The very idea that we create and mold little versions of ourselves is crazy when you think about it. Little people who love and adore you and place you on a ridiculously high pedestal until they get old enough to see that you are indeed only human. We are in this stage now - they now know we are capable of mistakes. We aren't their whole world anymore, we share their hearts with teachers and friends etc.
I love that we can tuck our boys in now and know we probably won't hear from them for a good eight hours because they sleep through the night. I love that we can leave the house without a half hour of preparation. I love not having to buy nappies (not wipes though, I can't see me ever not buying wipes - they are a multi-purpose wonder). A part of me will miss the baby and toddler stage that is now a part of our past, because it is witnessing a miracle grow and develop right before your eyes. The intense blend of love and exhaustion is a unique experience I wouldn't trade for anything.
But we are past that now. We are sticking our head up out of the trenches and seeing what the world of parenting has in store for us next.