After the Third Trimester

I believe that we parent our children in trimesters. Similar to the trimesters of pregnancy, each phase of parenting is characterized by unique developmental stages for both mother and child.

Parenting Trimester 1: From birth to full-time school-age, ages 0-6.

During this phase, as our children grow from infants to toddlers, and from toddlers to school-aged children, we, too, grow. At first we simply try to find our legs, dedicating ourselves to something small and precious in a way that we never have before, and adjusting our identities from woman or wife or partner, or however we previously defined ourselves, to mother. Many of us set aside years of education and hard-won careers to learn to function on three hours or less of sleep each night while seldom, if ever, going the washroom uninterrupted. We are blown away by the sheer power and force of mother-love. We believe that this is both the most challenging and rewarding time in a parent’s life, but we are wrong.

Parenting Trimester 2: Grades one to 7, ages 7-12.

In this phase we realize with shock and dismay that a “full school day,” as in, “I will get so much more done when Little Miss is in school full days,” is not really a full day at all. Minus a lunch break, we have five hours, max. We learn to be master multi-taskers extraordinnaire, creating an often precarious balance between our childrens’ school, activities and play-dates, and our own lives, interests and relationships. Those who plan to return to work are often impeded by the sheer difficulty of this. We continue to re-define ourselves and acknowledge the gap that exists between our expectations and our realities. But our children are learning and growing and becoming actual people. It’s fun. It’s exciting. They have thoughts and ideas and needs of their own, needs which they never fail to express without the prerequisite precursor, “Mooooooooooom.” We are in denial, believing this phase will never end, although, sometimes, we all wish it would.

Parenting Trimester 3: Grades 8-12, ages 12-18

In trimester 3, the passage of time is acute. We long for the days of yore, when we were sleepless simply because our babies were hungry. We are sleepless once again, but now because our children are out in the world, walking home from school alone, discovering the opposite sex, and soon to be dealing with dating, driving, drinking and drugs. They talk to their friends about things they will not discuss with us. We see them becoming independent, transitioning into adults, and realize that they have lives of their own that do not revolve around us. We experience the onset of separation anxiety over the fact that our babies, sooner rather than later, will be gone.

This is where I am: Entering the early stages of my third trimester as a mom, staring over the edge of the precipice that is the teen-aged years, about to be pushed. With crystal clarity I see that, in just over 6 years, when I am only 47 years old and still have almost half a lifetime in front of of me, my Little Miss will be gone. My job will be done, over, null-and-void, finito. I will be surplus. Sure, we’ll remain close. She’ll need my advice from time-to-time, and maybe a hot meal and a place to do laundry every now and then, and of course, I’ll be there for her to share the good times and the bad. But the day-to-day reality I have come to know will cease to exist. The implications of the choices I have made, like putting my Little Miss ahead of my career, will come home to roost. I have but one trimester left to figure out how I want my life to look when my third trimester ends, and how I’m going to achieve it. The million dollar question is this: “How do I create a second life for myself that I love just as much as the one I’m living right now?”

9 Responses to “After the Third Trimester”

  1. I usually don’t post in Blogs but your blog forced me to, amazing work.. beautiful …

  2. Hey Joanie, It makes me weepy, too. It was actually this little theory of mine that spurred on my desire to blog. I think I will keep going with it, and see where it takes me.

  3. I really love this concept and you lay it all out so nicely. Keep going!

    It makes me feel a bit weepy to think of it this way. So powerful.

    XO J

  4. Hi Christie,
    I love this idea so much…parenting in trimesters…You really should write this one up for a magazine…Lovely to see you on the street the other day. Your daughter is, like you, absolutely beautiful…inside and out!
    Let me know when she’s ready to babysit!
    Cori

    • Thanks Cori! Maybe I will write this up for a magazine. You’re always so flattering…it could go to my head. It was great to see you, too, and yes, my daughter does babysit. She’s a certified sitter through St. John’s ambulance. Keep her in mind.

  5. I am still in the phase of “not going to bathroom with out being interrupted” funny thing is my husband locks the door… if I did that there would be pounding and wailing non-stop until I opened the door.

    Cute blog… if you ever want to be reminded of “those” days don’t forget to check out my blog at http://tomatotots.blogspot.com

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