The Sweet Spot


They call it parenting in the sweet spot.  It’s that narrow window comprised of a handful of magical, enchanted years of childhood.  It’s those years that make up a relatively calm bridge between the stormy extremes of the sleep deprived blur and physical demands of baby/toddlerhood and the dreaded years of teenage attitude and angst.  When first reading about this apparent promised land of parenting as a stay at home mom of 3 littles under 5, I began to look toward it with equal parts anticipation and dread.  On bad days, thoughts of everyone wiping.their.own.bottom and not living groundhog day every day in my yoga pants seemed an unobtainable goal.  On good days, I’d think about how sad I’d be to say goodbye to their chubby hands and thighs, silly mispronunciations, soft sweet baby feet, naps(!) and innocence.

As they grew, I began to read more and more about this brief, elusive stage and it all seemed to shout warnings and cautions about squeezing the joy (and life) out of every single stinkin’ second of THE golden phase of parenting.  The baby stage of child raising was often described as something to simply be endured, or to just get through, and after that sweet spot?  There was only danger and a joyless, strained, stress filled existence because… TEENS!

One after another, they all seemed to hit this sweet spot before my eyes, until the summer they were 5, 7, and 10, and I realized that we were there.  We were IN it.  I began to panic and made a more ambitious than usual summer bucket list that year.  I scoured local activities for things we could all do together! As a family! Because, fleeting! Gone so soon! Memories! Squeeze every minute of joy out of the day!  These were the thoughts that began to take over my life.  I began to experience anxiety about enjoying my kids, as I had begun to think this short season was it.  Period.  This brief interlude was going to be my only reward for surviving all of the diapers, teething, sleepless nights, whining, etc. etc., and I HAD to make the most of this happy place before we dove off into the abyss of tweens, teens and all things dark and scary.

And this supposed golden season?  It became one of the most stressful times in my life as a mom as I became consumed with thoughts of what had been and what was to come.  I became fearful and nearly forgot how to relax and enjoy the moment and our family.  Making magical memories and wanting to freeze time and them – just as they were – became almost an obsession.  I had reached the pinnacle of motherhood, so I’d thought, and I had to make darn sure that we didn’t squander a moment.  Time, however, waits for no one, and almost as quickly as it began, this sweet spot began to fade as birthdays, holidays and other milestones began to come at a rapid fire pace, and they began to leave it, one by one. 

I was astounded, though, by the fact that I found that I was still enjoying them so much as we transitioned into the next phase… and maybe even more? Where was this dark and scary?  It had been replaced by fun, fortuity and spontaneity.  Old adventures gave way to new as we began to take more grown up vacations, literally travel across the world, and linger at the table long after dinner was done having conversations about anything and everything.  There were witty, funny, and sometimes hilariously sarcastic creatures living under our roof that were (for the most part) an absolute joy.  They began to choose, follow, and become passionate about their own interests, and not necessarily things we would have hand-picked for them.  As I reconciled and pondered these things in my mind, I began to relax more and view these children that we had been gifted as not just a commodity to enjoy, plan for, or to center life around, but as individuals.  These were still the same kids, our kids, just version 2.0. 

We now have 2 young teenagers in the house and one elementary aged love who still lingers in that supposed sweet spot.  They are all thriving in their various stages – not one more than the other – and I can say with certainty that life has never been more fun as a parent.  I’ve come to slowly understand over the years that ups and downs along the continuum of parenting and childhood are just the norm.  There is no one good phase, no absolute sweet spot.  Teens don’t always live up to their bad reputations, 9 year olds can still throw one heck of a tantrum, and sweet spots can turn sour on a dime.

So, I became determined as time went on to be a cheerleader for all of it.  A self-appointed ambassador to squelch any rumor of one certain sweet spot.  I want to tell new mamas to enjoy their babies, soak in their sweet smells, revel in those first milestones, and recall with fondness those sticky kisses and picked weeds presented to you from the yard.  Store memories from the so-called golden years of losing teeth, first days of school and first recitals away in your memory banks to draw out as currency during the difficult seasons.  Laugh with (and at) your big kids, put yourselves in their world and see all the magic that is happening with each new discovery they make.  There is no dark and scary, and no phase to simply be endured.  In fact, I want to tell you a little secret. This being a mama and being here for every single bit of this?  It just makes it all one big sweet spot.



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Born and raised in South Mississippi, Jennifer is proud to call herself an 8th generation Mississippian. She holds Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in Nursing, and is affiliated with numerous professional nursing organizations. Jennifer is an active member of the Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport, and is truly passionate about impacting the lives of children in her local community. When she isn’t busy working or volunteering, Jennifer spends her time chauffeuring her 3 children to 3 different schools and cheering them on at more than twice as many activities. As a devoted wife to a military officer and pilot, Jennifer counts deployment survival as one of the most indispensable skills she has acquired in this role, and began blogging shortly after her children were born as a means to stay connected during lengthy absences. Jennifer serves as a frequent vocalist in her community, and considers traveling, porch sitting, reading, and binge watching historical dramas to be a few of her very favorite things.


  1. The gift of love is priceless beyond comparison. Reading your blog bright to Mind memories of growing up in a funny eccentric dysfunctial family that included a ton of love – remember my Momma making special biscuits in the shape of Dutch girls for me,embroidering my organdy Easter dresses, fighting with my older brother and sister then having these witty hilarious conversations around the dinner table that drove our parents nuts as we cracked on one another. The amount of love was boundless from both parents and this has been the gift that we were able to pass on and share with each grandchild in the family. They were adored, hugged and loved. Pass it on.

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