On the days that I am done, the days where I can not wait until bedtime so that I can have a moment’s peace, the days where I can’t stand to be touched or climbed upon anymore, I try hard to remember something – Never before in my life, and probably never again, will I be this loved.
Those humans that I created believe fully that I am the center of the universe. Not just their universe, the universe. To them, I have all the answers, I am their comfort, their warmth, their guide, their happy place. It only takes being away for a couple hours and they’ll run back into my arms with Superman speed and I am lucky enough to be on the receiving end of the best hug in the world.
In ten years time, they will look at me differently. I won’t be the awesome mother they think I am right now. Their world will have shifted, it’ll become more complicated, and with every year, I’ll become peripheral to their universe rather than the center. That knowledge breaks my heart but also drives me to at least try to appreciate what I have right now. Because while many days pass by that make me want to tear out my hair or scream at the top of my lungs, these precious individuals continue to grow, mature and move on. Very very soon, my two won’t fight about who gets to sit on my lap. They won’t need me to read them bedtime stories. They’ll push away my daily thousands of kisses. And my heart will break in two.
So on those days that I struggle with this parenting gig, which is most days, I try so hard to remember how lucky I am right this second. Because I have never been loved so wholly as those two little creatures love me right this moment. It is a privilege that I refuse to take for granted.
See that toddler freaking out over there? Yeah, the one that makes you think “Oh dear God,” and all sorts of thoughts run through your head? Or the child who begs for chocolate at the checkout line and you watch in horror as mommy or daddy cave? That used to be me watching and wondering.
When I sat on my childless perch, I could solve any parenting problem at a glance. With ease, I could be your executioner in the parenting battlefield. And then I had a child. Yes, you can snicker. Because no other singular act teaches you that you know absolutely nothing than the arrival of a child.
I walked through the grocery store yesterday afternoon, with my 5-year-old preschooler sitting in the shopping cart wearing her cupcake pajamas. My 3-year-old was manically running through the store. I’m now at the point where I don’t care about the looks I get. I accept now that these people, whom I will never see again, don’t understand that it was Pajama Day in school or that they both had really long days the day before so they are both cranky and tired. However, I needed to get milk. I ignore the looks I get because even if these other people are put out by my kids’ behaviors, I don’t have the effort within me to care what they think. I couldn’t even be bothered to explain. Most of the time when I snap at my children, it’s because I’m the one stressed out. I’m panicking about what other people think. If I take away the fear of other people’s thoughts or reactions, things become a lot less stressful.
Most of the time, when you see a parent that seems like they’re out of their depth, they probably are. That doesn’t mean they are incompetent. It may just be that they’re having a really bad day. You don’t know if a loved one passed away. You don’t know if someone else lost their job. Perhaps the rent is overdue or the mortgage is defaulting. You could be looking at a mother who hasn’t had any sleep for five years. Perhaps a growth spurt is to blame (my two turn into unholy terrors during growth spurts). That possessed devil you see running amok may have been an angel just an hour ago. Maybe it’s a simple as a missed nap. Maybe, just maybe, what you are seeing is someone who is doing their best, but needs help, or it’s a child who has just reached their limit on what they can absorb and contain.
Sometimes, very small gestures of kindness can turn a day around. When you see that baby freaking out in front of you, start a game of peek-a-boo. Begin a conversation with the preschooler to distract him/her just long enough that mommy can swipe her debit card and get everyone out the door. A little nod of understanding or a smile also can go a long way. A look of disdain or disapproval does nothing but aggravate an already stressful situation. When we choose to be nicer to each other, everyone wins.
Something else happens when you do this. Your day gets brighter too.
Oh I’m in so much trouble.
My daughter completed VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten) this year where her schedule was 9am-12pm every day, but yesterday she was invited to spend the whole day there. The school’s end-of-year celebration was at 5pm. So I dropped her to school at 9am and didn’t see her again until 5pm which was the longest school day she’s ever had. She was so excited about the full day. Oh how aware I am that that will be a fleeting joy come next year. Anyway, school celebration came and went. We all came home about 7pm and I watched something happen that was wholly abnormal. The kids played together beautifully for an hour. The time limit was self-imposed because it was bed time, but they both seemed happy to play together and there wasn’t one scream of “Mooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom!!”
I realize this only happened because she was gone all day yesterday. Neither was sick of the other, they may have actually missed each other. Here’s what else it tells me – I am so much trouble come noon tomorrow when her school year ends and she is home full time for three months.
Tell me what you do to keep the kids entertained in the summer time! I’m going to need lots of help. Or alcohol.
I registered my little girl for Kindergarten today. I’m not ready. She’s not ready. OK, maybe she is, but I’m not. I’m not prepared for someone else to spend more time with my child during the day than me. I’m dying here just thinking about her running into hooligans on the playground. Having her away from me for a whole school day (8.45am-3pm), five days a week just seems wrong. She’s my girl. My life. She belongs with me.
She only began preschool this year at aged 4, almost 5. That was hard. But this? This may kill me.
I’d love to home-school her, but then I’d be drunk by midday, everyday. I tip my hat (with a hint of envy) at those who are able to do such a daunting task. I wish I had it in me, but I don’t. I feel like a failure for not having the ability to do it.