I've heard this from three different women in the last week, all of them mothers of older children. The context is how much your children need you when they are no longer babies.
I guess I've been fooling myself that these are the most demanding years of child rearing. When I get overwhelmed or feel as though my own goals are shoved way too far back on the backburner, I tell myself that it won't be like this forever. I tell myself that in just a few short years these babies will be children who won't need me as much and that I should enjoy this stage.
But what if this is not true? What if they need you more as they grow up, and not less?
It is hard to imagine. Right now they need me to eat, sleep, dress, go to the bathroom, etc. When they can do that all on their own, what will they need me for?
Guidance. Support. That was how one of the moms explained it. The labor might not be quite so physical but it will still require time and attention - probably more in fact because baby food making and diapering can be rather mindless.
This news doesn't disappoint me. I love being needed by my children. But it does give me a reality check. It tells me that devoting time to my children is not a temporary requirement so I had better get used to it. And it is nice to know they'll need me for longer than they'll be in diapers. Goodness knows I need them!
Maybe on some level I knew all of this but it is still an important concept for me to grasp. Motherhood is, after all, a lot about managing expectations - theirs and yours!