A Different Kind Of Sweet Spot

posted in: Life, Motherhood 101 comments

Some friends are in that sweet mothering spot – where their children are old enough to play on their own, get their own snacks, help around the house, and with younger siblings. Yet, are still young enough to want to cuddle with their parents, and say “I love you” unabashedly. The kind of sweet spot that allows mothers the space they crave, and the closeness of their children which they need.

I am not in that sweet spot. 

My boys are 4, and 21 months. They can and will play together for a while, then inevitably, one or both will be tugging on my hand, asking for something, or one will climb up on my lap and demand a snuggle. There is no respite, as long as one or the other is around. I don’t get much done.

Boys laughing

However, we are in a different sweet spot. 

When they share their toys willingly and I don’t have to break up fights.

When the older one hands the little one a treasured toy, just so he won’t cry.

When the little one grabs a snack, he always takes a second one for his older brother.

When they go to bed, and have their little chat before they nod off to sleep.

When the little one wakes up before his brother, and climbs into bed with him to snuggle.

When they hug and kiss each other.

When they hold hands (and really, just getting along in general).

When they are still small enough to sit on my lap, and willingly.

Boys hands

Yes, we are far from that sweet spot.

But we are in a good place. It’s when I feel somewhat competent as a mother, that I’m not an absolute failure. I feel like I’m doing something right. 

I just have to try not to burst my own bubble.

Are you in a sweet mothering spot?


Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and DrGreene.com. She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • February 10, 2014 Kerstin

    I think every age has its sweet spots πŸ™‚ I’m a bit ahead of you – yesterday my husband and I took a whole date day and the kids stayed home with the dog. It was sweet πŸ˜€
    (that first picture? how cute are they?!?!)
    Kerstin recently wrote…The Fucket ListMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I’m so jealous! And happy for you!
      Did the dog do a good job? πŸ™‚

  • February 10, 2014 Lisa L.

    I have no children but I have two nephews who are 2 1/2 and 7 months old. She has definitely felt the way you do and probably will for the rest of her life. She’s in a good place now though, as you are, and I hope that you both stay that way.

    Mostly Lisa

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I’m happy for your sister (or sister-in-law?)! 2 1/2 and 7 months are adorable (albeit slightly challenging) ages. πŸ™‚

  • February 10, 2014 Brian Sorrell

    Already this year my little boy has started riding his bike to the park and has started picking out letters and reading. In the mornings we get him breakfast then *go back to bed*! He also talks a lot about love.

    So yeah. Pretty sweet these days. Now if I could just catch up on that four year sleep deficit.
    Brian Sorrell recently wrote…Cape Reinga & The Curvature Of The EarthMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Aw, that’s awesome and sweet!
      I don’t think we can ever catch up on that sleep deficit. *yawn*

  • February 10, 2014 Chai a cup of life

    I love the age of my son now at 6 years old. He is still cute like a baby to me, but I can also communicate with him now and he is able to express himself. I think the hardest years were from 2-3 years old, but In saying that, every year is perfect. Your boys are really sweet.
    Chai a cup of life recently wrote…Pit Stop at a Dhaba in India!My Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Definitely perfect in it own way, yes!

  • February 10, 2014 tracy

    Watching sweet sibling interactions is such a joy. I know they will always be friends. xoxo
    tracy recently wrote…Dear Justin Bieber, They’re WatchingMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Yes! It makes having more than one worthwhile. πŸ™‚

  • February 10, 2014 Andrea

    There are different sweet spots. Yours is a good one.
    Andrea recently wrote…The WallMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Right now, it most certainly is.

  • February 10, 2014 Kim

    My boys are 9 and 4 – and it feels pretty sweet here. My oldest can help with a lot of things and my youngest wants to be just like him, so he is Mr. Independent most days. I still help out and supervise and play and cuddle, but they do things on their own too.
    I think every stage has its sweetness, doesn’t it?
    Kim recently wrote…On the Days That I SuckMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Definitely! That also means that different age gaps has its pros too. Yours sound perfect.

  • February 10, 2014 Shannon

    I remember how hard those days were when, as a mother, I was ON constantly. There were definitely sweet spots within that time, but hard spots, too. Mothering is very different for me now; sweet in many ways, bittersweet in others. I’m going on my first official college visits as a mother this weekend. Bittersweet, indeed.
    Shannon recently wrote…FlowerMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      College? NOOOOO.

  • February 10, 2014 Kirsten

    Time to myself is just a fantasy, and with a special needs child, it’s likely to remain a fantasy for a long time to come. But I do have my sweet spots, yes. Last night, the autism boy was having a major meltdown, and instead of looking on desperately like I sometimes do, I just *knew* what he needed, and I was able to help him. Hugging my child after one of these meltdowns, knowing that I was able to help him – that is one of the best sweet spots ever.
    Kirsten recently wrote…Untouchable MomentsMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I’m glad you can find those sweet spots despite the challenges.

  • February 10, 2014 angela

    Mine change daily. Some days, yes, other days they seem much smaller and needier πŸ™‚
    angela recently wrote…The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress – A ReviewMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I hear you on the latter!

  • February 10, 2014 alexandra

    I have sweet spots in my day. I grab them and hold on to them and close my eyes, trying to remember them forever. I am at the far end, looking back, and thinking how much I’ll miss them when they’re gone. It seems so short ago that the two oldest were one on each of my hips. I can see myself carrying them as if it were just weeks ago. This is no exaggeration, it feels just briefly months ago.

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I believe you, because I know how much you treasure eery part of your mothering journey. xo

  • I agree with Kerstin, each age/stage has its own charm and sweet spot. I love the fact that my kids are actually starting to play together! Not just the eldest telling the youngest what to do, but really interactive games.
    May the good times last!
    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes recently wrote…β€œYou should write about it” she said.My Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Same here! That’s the best part, just watching them play and talk to each other. So so cute.

  • February 10, 2014 ALlie

    Kind of. I still get lots of cuddles, and the work isn’t so labor intensive anymore. I also LOVE the conversations I’m having. There’s seven years between my youngest and oldest – so it’s a spectrum. My oldest is getting the middle school attitude and the HW is much, much harder. Also – their calendars are busier than mine, but I have to drive them everywhere:)!
    ALlie recently wrote…My Forsyth Book Review: Double DownMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Oh gosh, I can’t even imagine when they’re older and have all sorts of activities, because it’s pretty laidback for me right now πŸ™‚

  • February 10, 2014 Nina

    Yes I know what you mean. On a more long-term level with my eldest, I felt that way when he was about 2.5 (and “coincidentally” was when I thought it’d be a good idea to have another kid).

    Now, in the last few days, I’ve also had that sweet spot with my now four-year-old and twin babies. Just this weekend, they all played harmoniously with each other, and not one tantrum was thrown.

    But let’s go back the weekend before that, and it was a different story. My kids get along well so it’s not really that issue, but they like to take turns acting up lol. So last weekend it was the four-year-old’s turn, and I was back to not knowing what to do.

    Those sweet spots comes in waves, thankfully!
    Nina recently wrote…Why You Shouldn’t Reward Your Kids (And What to Do Instead)My Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I totally get what you mean about taking turns to act up – my kids do that too! I guess that’s better than everyone acting up at the same time.

  • February 10, 2014 another jennifer

    I think there are lots of sweet spots along the journey of motherhood. My kids are old enough to play without much supervision. My older son makes his own lunches for school. They both make their beds in the morning. And they still cuddle with me, which I love. My sons used to do the same stuff when they were your sons’ age. It’s fun to see their relationship grow. They may wrestle constantly and fight every now and then, but they’ll always stick up for each other!
    another jennifer recently wrote…How Will You Celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week?My Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      The sticking up for each other part is awesome!! Sounds like you are in a pretty sweet spot now.

  • February 10, 2014 Nicole

    My children are the same ages as yours, and we oscillate from sweet spot to holy terror! There are times my girls get along beautifully, sharing and giggling and playing together. But it can quickly dissolve into tears and tantrums. I just try to savor the sweet moments and remember that the rough times will pass.
    Nicole recently wrote…10 Reasons to Hit the Trails and a GiveawayMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Co-sign everything you wrote there, Nicole!

  • February 10, 2014 Jasbir

    I agree. Every parent has their own sweet spot. I.dont have a certain stage or period for my sweet spot. But it presents itelf daily in many different ways.
    Jasbir recently wrote…Toddlers are born to be picky eatersMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      It most certainly does.

  • February 10, 2014 AlwaysARedhead

    I always loved bedtime. every so often, I would stand outside the door and you could hear the laughter between the kids, sometimes they weren’t really chatting about anything particularly but were cracking each other up.
    AlwaysARedhead recently wrote…Winter storms and snow angelsMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      That’s so sweet!

  • February 10, 2014 thekitchwitch

    My youngest is 8 and she STILL always gets a snack for her sister when she gets one for herself. I think it’s so sweet. My sister never thought to get me a snack!

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Isn’t that just the sweetest? Love it.

  • February 10, 2014 Tracie

    I am in that sweet spot you described – 10 is a wonderful age. But I remember those earlier years had sweet spots of their own. I’m glad you are in that good place, with all those special little moments that make 4 and almost 2 sweet.
    Tracie recently wrote…Mia Farrow Might Have Been A Bad Mom But That Doesn’t Make Dylan A LiarMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      10! I can’t even imagine just yet, seems so far away πŸ™‚

  • February 11, 2014 Tamara

    I do feel like I’m not only in a sweet spot of them entertaining themselves and each other for hours so I can work around the house, but next year is a sweet spot! Scarlet will be in kindergarten all day, every day and it’s FREE! So now expensive preschool tuition for one whole year until it’s Des’ turn! And she’ll be such a big girl, but he’ll be home with me still. My baby.
    Anyway, it all has its pros and cons, but I sure do love me some now.
    Tamara recently wrote…I Wanna See You Be Brave.My Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Ooh, that does sound awesome!! Free kindergarten? I can get in with that. You will LOVE the one-on-one-time with Des. I had some of that when my oldest went to preschool, and it was just me and the little one. We had lots of fun!

  • February 11, 2014 erin margolin

    Oh, how I love this. And I could say some of the same things about my kids, although we haven’t hit the sweet spot that Tracy wrote about recently… on her blog. How her three girls play together and disappear and they don’t require as much attention as they used to. I’m ready for that. My twins are good with Piper, but they obviously can’t change her diapers, LOL!
    It is nice when they’re sweet with each other and getting along. I hope it only gets better from here.
    erin margolin recently wrote…Top 10 Things Every Parent Should Keep in the CarMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Yes, the boys still need a lot of help in many ways (the oldest is potty trained, but he still needs help wiping and flushing!), but I love the streaks of independence they show. I know it’d only get better from here!

  • February 11, 2014 Arnebya

    What I love is that there are variations to the sweet spot; that’s what makes parenting so different, so wonderful, so thrilling even when it’s crazy-inducing. I love that I can nap (pass out, really, which is what I did Sunday afternoon, waking with a jolt having no sense of the day or time). I ran downstairs and everyone was fine. The oldest had doled out a snack to the youngest, the middle was playing with the littler and the world hadn’t collapsed. I did need to start dinner, though. But in that same evening, I held one hurt from a paper cut and one who was feeling the injustice of a bigger sister going to a fun event without her. There are sweet spots all around us. It’s just up to us to recognize they may be different for everyone.
    Arnebya recently wrote…A Lady In France (a review)My Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      You’re absolutely right in that we need to recognize the sweet spots when they’re there. I’m glad that you do!

  • February 11, 2014 Jennifer

    I think all the spot are sweet. Sometimes we just have to look past the bitter to find them. I have to look really hard some days.
    Jennifer recently wrote…Out of Chaos, Comes OrderMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I totally know what you mean, Jennifer.

  • February 11, 2014 Adrienne

    Love this! My boys are very far apart in age. We’re at a difficult stage with that gap (15 & 9). Even though they’re big now, they can still wear me out with their bickering and general not getting along with one another. But then, just like your little ones, they do something sweet for one another and I’m reminded that they really do love each other. In that moment, it’s a sweet spot. They’re like sour patch kids. First they’re sour then their sweet. My favorite candy, by the way. πŸ˜‰ Love the pics!
    Adrienne recently wrote…House RulesMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Hah! I get it. I remember the same thing with my oldest brother (there are 5 years between us) – sweet and sour spots. It happens!

  • February 11, 2014 Lisa

    I think every stage has sweet spots and not-so-sweet spots. Plus, they have ups & downs, good days & bad days. I have those days, too. Eah stage is unique. πŸ™‚
    Lisa recently wrote…FTSF – The Best Dream I Ever Had VlogMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Yes, they are most definitely different!

  • February 11, 2014 Elaine A.

    I am definitely in a “sweet spot” with my oldest. He’s pretty independent and also quite helpful and never whines when I ask for his help. The other two, well… we’re still getting there.

    I like your sweet spot. πŸ™‚

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      “Getting there” – that’s our default position most days. Which is why the sweet spots are SO appreciated. πŸ™‚

  • February 11, 2014 Laura

    I’m so glad you can focus on the sweet in the spot you’re in. This weekend (Saturday especially) was rough for us, where I felt like we were in rough spots with both of the boys and it was awful. Thanks for reminding me to look for the sweet.
    Laura recently wrote…#ShareSomeLove and Decorate for Valentine’s DayMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Oh hon, I’m sorry. We go through those rough spots too. Some days, they seem endless, don’t they? I pray for more sweet spots for you, and soon. xo

  • February 11, 2014 Rorybore

    I am in the sweet spot – after 7 long years – of having the house to myself during the day. My 3 are all in school, all day now. It’s surprising how fast the hours go though. You’d think you get a ton of stuff done, but it doesn’t always end up that way. Other people tend to call me to do things — because they know my kids are in school.

    but I love being ready to greet them off the bus, to have a snack and talk about their day before supper. and then still being able to handle the Never Ending Chatter of my 2 girls over the meal.
    I actually get the chance to miss them now.
    Rorybore recently wrote…Just Blowing SnowMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Getting the chance to miss them – sounds sweet to me. πŸ™‚

  • February 11, 2014 Angela Youngblood

    Awww, your boys being so nice to each other is a sweet spot for sure! You are definitely doing so much right.
    Angela Youngblood recently wrote…Love Stories in MidtownMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I sure hope so, Angela, I really do.

  • February 11, 2014 Natalie

    I’ve noticed you are in a sweet spot, it might not be the ultimate one but you can still enjoy it until it changes all again. So glad you have found one and are enjoying these moments with the boys! My boys are still at the taking away from each other phase…if I hear that scream one more time…. πŸ™‚
    Natalie recently wrote…Where’s This Journey Going?My Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      My boys were in that spot you mentioned a couple of months ago! (well, still there sometimes) Don’t worry, that too shall pass.

  • February 11, 2014 My Inner Chick

    My boys are older & very good friends.

    I love watching them interact, argue, and discuss stuff together…

    but seriously, I miss that toddler age

    where I had much more control! you now what I mean?

    Xxxx LOVE your photos, Alison Lee.
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…Meeting My Favorite Author Thru BloggingMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Control?? What is this control you speak of? πŸ™‚
      And thank you! Those two are a few of my favorite from France.

  • February 11, 2014 Bev

    Aww what cuties! I’m enjoying the pre-mobile infant stage.
    Bev recently wrote…Letting go of guiltMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Do enjoy it because that stage goes by really quickly πŸ™‚

  • February 11, 2014 Christa Sterken

    I am even further ahead…my girls are 18 and 16. I look back now and remembering sometimes wishing that I could just get a nap, or extricate myself from a sticky neck hug or just on bad days want to hide in the closet. For just a few minutes. Most days though I was aware of the gift, and I so miss the days of little hands and loudly whispered questions and sweet love notes. thanks for your post today
    Christa Sterken recently wrote…6 Degrees of CarbonationMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Oh I know those moments that I wish would pass, and just as quickly wish they won’t. Thank you for reading, Christa.

  • February 11, 2014 Lady Jennie

    This is sort of stating the obvious, but you are a GREAT mother. I’ll let you know if I’m in a sweet spot after touring Paris with my father and three kids and no strollers for exhausted 5-year olds to fall into. πŸ˜‰
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…Go-To ScripturesMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      How did it go? Did you guys have a good time?

  • February 11, 2014 Galit Breen

    I love this view of things — each spot is, indeed, sweet in its own way!
    Galit Breen recently wrote…Tow the LineMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      It is, indeed my friend!

  • February 11, 2014 Sarah

    Feeling very much NOT in a sweet spot right now, but thank you for the reminder to look for those little glimmers of sweetness that happen even I. The hardest of times.
    Sarah recently wrote…What does a municipal attorney do, anyway?My Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I’m sorry, Sarah! I do hope you find those sweet spots. Some days, it is hard to come by, but they do come.

  • February 12, 2014 KalleyC

    Yes, I can relate to where you are coming from for sure! I am in that sweet spot with you. My children are 4 and 15 months old, and they do play together and all I have to do is make sure no one gets hurt. I love this moment that I am in right now, and I’m going to store as many memories as possible to remember them this young!
    KalleyC recently wrote…Choosing Love over HateMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      It is a great time to be right smack in the middle of motherhood, isn’t it?

  • February 12, 2014 Julia

    That is such a nice place to be and you are doing a great job with both of them : )
    Julia recently wrote…Tips for starting a Toy RotationMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Julia. πŸ™‚

  • February 12, 2014 Gina Jacobs Thomas

    I love that your boys are showing compassion and looking out for each other! We’re on the edge of this sweet spot, and I want to keep us in a holding pattern for as long as I can. Though, some days, it feels like my kids fight more than they’re sweet to each other. But when they are loving and patient and get along? There’s nothing quite like it.
    Gina Jacobs Thomas recently wrote…The Father Daughter DanceMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I know exactly what you mean, Gina.

  • February 12, 2014 Maureen

    Alison, this post is so beautiful. It made me yearn for another baby because I know in my heart my son is ready to be a big brother after seeing how sweet he is to his little baby cousin.
    Maureen recently wrote…Going RawMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I see you’re ready for another one, Maureen! πŸ™‚

  • February 13, 2014 Christine

    We are in a bit of a sweet spot in the sense that the boys LOVE each other (omg the sibling interactions are too much sometimes) and they play together and occupy each other. We’ve been able to sleep in on a couple of weekend mornings while they occupy themselves with their toys! But, the not so sweet is the whining that inevitably starts after they have been playing together for a while.
    Christine recently wrote…Favorites LatelyMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Ah the whining. It’s not age-immune, is it?

  • February 13, 2014 Ashlee

    I feel like I’m in a good place with motherhood. My son will be 2 in March and although he’s wild and has his moments (as does any child), he’s so stinkin sweet. And I love it. He has his daddy’s wild side and his mama’s sweet, caring side. I absolutely adore it.
    Ashlee recently wrote…A Nutritionist Told Me My Child Would Die Of AllergiesMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying his almost-twoness!

  • February 13, 2014 Katie

    I really love this post because YES. Each day there is a time when both boys are crying about something while I am trying to do something like make dinner. But each day there is also a time when we are all sitting on the couch as a family watching Curious George. And sometimes Charlie will lean his head against Eddie and I melt. We are in the sweet spot where the boys know it’s Ok to kiss and cuddle each other and they don’t feel weird about it. That stupid cultural thing has not hit them yet that to be affectionate with your brother is weird. I wish I could stay in this spot forever.
    Katie recently wrote…Old School ValentineMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      The kissing and cuddling – YES! My boys do that too, and I also love that they don’t feel weird about it, because to them, it’s just showing love and affection, what’s so weird about it? I too wish they can stay in that spot forever (wishful thinking).

  • February 14, 2014 julie gardner

    This put a lump in my throat.

    My kids are old enough to be left home for the WEEKEND. My oldest drives my younger one to and from school.

    They make their own food if I’m not around in the five minutes they get hungry.
    They buy their own clothes. Online.

    It’s beyond sweet.
    It’s bittersweet.


    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      JACK DRIVES???
      Time. It’s so cruel sometimes.

  • February 14, 2014 Keely

    Oh, that elusive sweet spot. You know what? I think that for people who HAVE that sweet spot…it only lasts as long as that unspilled juice remains upright and the potty-trained preschooler FEELS like peeing that day. πŸ˜‰
    Keely recently wrote…The Secret To Valentine’s Day.My Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Hah! You may be right….

  • February 14, 2014 Shell

    There is something sweet about all the different stages. I feel like I’m in one of those sweet spots(excuse me while I go knock on wood).
    Shell recently wrote…My Daily #HealthyEssentialsMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Let’s hope together that it does last! πŸ™‚

  • February 15, 2014 Kimberly

    Oh my sweet spot is watching my son walk into school and he stops at the door, calls for me, and then blows me a kiss.
    I love freedom but at the same time, I love being needed. It won’t be long before I’m not cool enough to just drop him off at school in pink jogging pants.
    Kimberly recently wrote…Thanks Vanilla Bean And Chuck NorrisMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Oh honey, you will ALWAYS be cool in pink jogging pants.

  • February 18, 2014 Jeanne

    I love when my kids were at that exact point in their lives. Even though my two kids are adults now, they are in a sweet spot. They rarely argue anymore and instead of calling each other by name, they say brother or sister.
    Jeanne recently wrote…How I Spent My Long WeekendMy Profile

    • February 18, 2014 Alison

      That’s very sweet!

  • February 18, 2014 emma

    As you say, each stage has it’s own ‘sweet spot’!
    You have a lovely blog – glad I found it!
    Emma πŸ™‚

    • February 18, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Emma! Appreciate you stopping by.

  • February 20, 2014 Sophia

    Hi Alison! I just found your blog. You have two wonderful cuties πŸ˜‰ I think I am somewhat in a sweet mothering spot! My little boy is 1 1/2, and is very independent. When he needs something, he knows how to request it, and I know how to read the clues. Looking forward to connecting! You can find me at http://www.thehappymamablog.com
    Sophia recently wrote…Gianni’s first time at the zooMy Profile

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