The Stages of Motherhood: What to Expect As Your Child Grows Up

You don’t have to enjoy every moment of motherhood but you can certainly enjoy each stage as it happens.

Becoming a mother is a wonderful thing but it can be difficult to accept that your tiny little baby is going to grow up.

Not only do mothers not want to let go of these precious stages but they also feel anxious not knowing what the next stage will bring.

There are no rules to dictate when one stage moves on to the next. The experience of motherhood is unique to each mother who experiences it.

However, knowing what to expect can sometimes help ease your fears and better prepare you for what’s coming next.

If you’re curious to know where motherhood will take you, here are the stages of being a mom:

The 6 Stages of Being a Mother

1. Anticipation

During your pregnancy, you are preparing for the unknown. This experience is often paired with excitement, anticipation, and fear.

You may have no idea how you’re going to physically, emotionally, and financially take care of a baby. On the other hand, you may be excited and overjoyed about the journey ahead.

During the stage of anticipation, your mothering instincts will begin to emerge as you begin taking care of your own body as an extension of your unborn child.

While it’s important to stay focused on preparing for your little one, you also need to step back and enjoy the experience now and then.

2. Exhaustion

It’s no secret that taking care of a newborn is exhausting! During this time you will learn a whole new definition of tired.

During this time, your little one is dependent on you to take care of them 24-7. Not only will you feel tired from lack of sleep but also from being mentally aware of their needs all day and night.

It may not seem possible, but you will feel restful again. Take time to take care of yourself and give yourself some grace – you have a big job to do!

3. Space

Someday, you’ll notice the proximity between you and your baby will start to widen. Where you were once attached at the hip, your little one is going to start to explore and gain independence.

This generally happens around the toddler/preschooler age when they begin to require space to grow and develop. They may not want you to help them with activities such as feeding and getting dressed.

When they’re not capable of completing tasks on their own (no matter how much they insist that they can), it’s important to find a balance between helping them and encouraging them to do things on their own.

During this stage, you may also find that while you want to spend time apart from your child, you don’t want to spend time apart from your child. There’s a certain degree of separation anxiety that happens when your little one goes off on their own.

Over time, you’ll begin to appreciate those moments of space, especially when you realize just how much they are starting to do on their own.

4. Exclusion

Once your child grows out of the toddler stage and begins school, they are going to start to develop a life completely separate from you. Suddenly, you are not there to witness their accomplishments or guide them through tough situations.

It’s not that you are completely excluded from their life but you are forced to step back and let them handle their own situations.

During this stage, it’s important to actively listen to your child when they talk about their day so you can ask questions and offer guidance when needed.

This natural transition from dependence to independence means that your child doesn’t require as much of your attention as they did before. Remember that, just because you spending less time with them doesn’t mean you are doing less for them.

5. Disconnection

Once your child reaches the tween and teen years, puberty, hormones, and emotions start to run high. They are becoming an adult and their mind and bodies don’t handle the transition very well.

You may feel that your child is disconnecting and pulling away from you as they further explore their independence.

This exploration of independence also involves challenging your authority. The disciplinary methods that used to curb meltdowns and temper tantrums may no longer work and the control you thought you had goes straight out the window.

Instead of trying to hold them too close, this is the time to give them more appropriate responsibilities and freedoms. The more you give them, the less they will fight for them.

This is also the time to allow your child to make mistakes. You’re going to worry about them but, as long as you created a relationship of open communication and understanding, your child will always see you as a safe place where they can be honest about their life.

6. Letting Go

Once they make it through their teenage years, your child is going to become a fully functioning adult. This is the stage in which you really have to let go.

During their life, you’ve given them all of the tools and skills they will need to survive adulthood.

Plus, you’re still always going to be there for them and guide them along the way. When they come back to you for love and support, you’ll know that you did enough.

So even when your child flees the nest, your job as a mother isn’t over!

Taking Care of Yourself Along the Way

As your child transitions through their stages of development, it’s important that you transition as well. From the time they are attached to your hip until the day they move out, it’s important to allow yourself time to take care of yourself in the spaces that develop.

When your child is an infant, this may simply mean taking a nice relaxing bath once a week. Once they start school, this could mean focusing on a favorite hobby.

It’s important to take care of yourself along the way because, even though you will always be a mom, you need to hang on to your true identity as well. This is the person you’re going to be spending more and more time with as your little one ages.

The last thing you want is to sit in an empty house, lost in the silence and unsure of what to do with your time.

And trying to find yourself after so many years can be difficult.

So keep doing the things you enjoy and take advantage of the free time that slowly becomes available as your child grows!

Enjoy the Stages of Motherhood

You can enjoy the stages of motherhood without relishing every moment.

Who wants to reminisce about changing diapers in the middle of the night or feeling like the worst parent on the planet because you fed your child carrots for supper?

You don’t have to enjoy every moment of motherhood but you can certainly enjoy each stage as it happens. Even if you grieve the changes in your child as you grow, there’s always something exciting about seeing what’s next!

This goes for both you and your child.

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