Skip Nav
Gift Guide
65 Gift Ideas That Are Perfect For 6-Month-Olds
Ellen DeGeneres
Move Over, Oprah! Ellen DeGeneres Has Her Own List of 15 Favorite Things For Fall
Backstreet Boys
The Backstreet Boys Opened Up About Bringing Their Kids on Tour — Because, Parenthood
Babies
The 24 Best Gift Ideas For 1-Year-Olds — Everything Is Under $20!
Holiday For Kids
The Best 90+ Gifts For 5-Year-Olds in 2018

Best Stage of Parenting

If You Don't Have These 3 "Ds" Right Now, You're in the Golden Years of Parenting

Recently, I've felt it coming. When I'm sitting with my kids after dinner, playing Hangman or listening as my 6-year-old daughter reads me books; when I take my son, who turns 4 in a couple of months, out to lunch and actually enjoy the experience; when we attend a party as a family and all leave relaxed and having enjoyed ourselves . . . I can feel the golden years of parenting upon me.

Every parent knows that there is a window of time when our children are old enough that the physical demands of raising them aren't as overwhelming, but they also aren't so old that they've decided we're no longer cool enough to spend time with. This weekend, a friend of mine gave the stage a name, which I found totally genius. "It's called the three 'Ds,'" she said. "No diapers, no dating, no driving — and it's the best."

I'm not totally in the three-"D" zone yet, still dealing with a kid who wears nighttime diapers and has to be coached to go number two on the potty, but within six months, I'm certain I'll be in that lucky stage, and even luckier — because I only have two kids, who are less than three years apart — I'll get to stay there for a good seven to eight years (at least I'm hoping it's that long until my daughter pushes me back into the parenting abyss by discovering that boys can be more than friends, then wrecks her father's sanity by getting a learner's permit).

ADVERTISEMENT

Now that I'm aware of this relatively long, but limited, window when my kids and I will mutually enjoy one another and be on the same team (let's be honest: there have been a lot of days when it's felt like them vs. me during the early years of their lives, and most of the time, they've won), I plan to enjoy it as much as possible.

I want to take them on great, memorable trips, during which we start the day exploring and end it cuddling. I want to yell the loudest at their soccer games and spend time in their classrooms, observing how they interact with their peers and teachers. I want to make them laugh and be present when they're being silly or sad or thoughtful. I want to give them every kiss they ask for and wipe away every tear while they still let me.

I want to get to know each other, not just as kid and parent, but as human beings. Because just as quickly as the first six years of parenting them have gone, I'm certain the next will go even faster, and before I know it, I'll have a couple of teenagers locking me out of their rooms — when they're home at all.

Surely I'm not the only one who found the saddest part of Stranger Things 2 to be the scene when Dustin calls looking for Mike, and Mike's dad says, "Our children don't live here anymore. You didn't know that?" His (fictional) kids are 13 and 17, which simultaneously seems like a lifetime and a blink away for me. So I plan to soak up every minute of the three-"D" stage while it lasts, knowing it won't be nearly long enough.

From Our Partners
What It's Like When Your Child Stops Believing in Santa
Why the Holidays Make Me Sad as a Parent
Feelings About Having Your Last Baby
Michelle Obama on Marriage Counseling in Elle December 2018
Hilary Duff Drinking Placenta in a Smoothie
Mom Cartoons by Helene the Illustrator
I Give Back on Black Friday Instead of Shop
Why I Decorate Late For Christmas
How to Find Time to Exercise With a Baby
Maya Rudolph Talking About Kids Wanting a Cat on Ellen
How to Teach Kids to Be Thankful
Family of 6 Lives in a School Bus With Dog
From Our Partners
Latest Family
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds