I was going to write a warning here to stop reading if you don’t have children yet, or if your kids are babies, or if they are already grown into big strapping teenagers, or even adults, but what would the point of that be? I guess I’d get this thought off my chest but more importantly it would defeat my purpose today. Yes, I have a purpose in this post and that is to discuss the phrase “it’s only a phase.”
‘Refute’ is too strong a word but what I am trying to say is it IS just a phase but it will be followed by another phase, and another and another…it’s all just one BIG phase.
I remember when my babies wouldn’t settle themselves. Just a phase.
I remember the biting. Just a phase.
I remember when getting the youngest into a car seat was like wrestling a drunken octopus every time. Just a phase.
I remember when they would be picky eaters. Just a phase (that continually returns every few days or so depending on mood, phase of the moon, direction of the wind or colour of their socks).
Currently there is the phase of stamping of feet, doors or anything with a hinge.
There is the pouting and shouting and telling your parents that you “hate them” (I’m expecting a resurgence of this phase in ten years or so).
There are lies creeping in…quickly followed by the admittance of them. Hopefully just a phase. Who am I kidding? Just a phase. It will pass…at least I hope so.
And so it all shall pass, but it is hard especially when you have two or more children going through their various stages at the same time. It is exhausting but all I can try to be is consistent and as understanding as I can be, which, believe me is not as easy as it may sound. It is frustrating and upsetting, and I know these current phases will pass only to be replaced by some other ‘phase’ or challenge.
Is it helpful to hear that “it’s just a phase”, a sentence that is bandied around in coffee groups, playgroups, playgrounds, family dinners? My gut reaction is no but with a little more thought I think maybe yes. If it is said kindly with a cup of tea being poured without asking, it is helpful. If it is said while someone puts an arm around your shoulder then yes, helpful again. Most helpful is when it is the last words you hear as they wander off to the playground with the child going through “the phase” to allow you to sit for five or ten minutes in relative peace and quiet. It is helpful when the person saying it is just reminding you on those difficult days that it shall pass and they are helping you.
Now, I’ve only mentioned a few difficult phases. Let’s remember those more positive times.
When your baby would only fall asleep on your shoulder in the middle of the day, all warm and snug and breathing like a little hedgehog. Just a phase.
When they would try to suck any nose that came near them when they were hungry in case it was a nipple. Just a phase (a very funny one).
When they would learn a new word and say it over and over again. Just a phase (borderline annoying but mainly cute).
There are many more. So what’s to come in this parenting journey is many more phases; some challenging, most fun. Each phase means your little people are developing, changing and dealing with those changes the best they can.
I could end this with a flourish of clichés; these things are sent to try us, what won’t kill us will make us stronger etc etc…but I won’t. I’ll end by saying the truth about parenting:
It doesn’t get easier. Don’t believe them. The challenges just change.
And if you need four words to simply live by: