Over the past few days, I’ve experienced some amazing moments with my children. You know the ones. The ones where they do something so sweet, so endearing and so childlike, you feel as though your heart may actually burst wide open and you question your capacity for handling them grow.
On my morning walk today, I thought about what I would write in this post. How I could put into words how I felt in those moments that blindsided me with deep love for these precious little people in my life. I even selected a title: “Let Them Be Little”.
On Sunday when I took Sissy into her room to put her down for her nap, instead of placing her right in her crib, I sat on the floor with her. I snuggled and rocked her, gently massaging her back, feeling every chubby little curve of her legs and arms, drifting off to sleep with her. She rarely allows me to hold her like that.
Just last night, I woke up to the feeling that someone was on my floor. No, I didn’t hear anything or see anything. I just had that feeling.
I looked down and there was Bug, laying on the floor by my bed. “Are you okay, buddy?”
“Yep. I think I just need a hug.”
I scooped him up and gave him a full body hug. Slightly concerned, I repeated my earlier question and he said, “Yep. I’m going to bed now.”
These were the sweet little moments I was going to write about. I wanted to remind us all that time goes by so fast. We need to remember to “let them be little” and soak in all the sweet, childlike innocence we can while it lasts.
Then, I came home from my walk.
I noticed our oldest son’s bike in the garbage. I knew that couldn’t be good.
After he left for school on the bus, I noticed he forgot his homework and his new headphones that he said he needed for testing today. (And no, I am not running them in to the school for him … I have this fear that if I don’t start holding him accountable, he’ll still be calling me to remind of things when he’s an adult.)
With spring planting in full swing, I actually got the chance to visit with my husband this morning and learned the reason for the bike in its current location. When he came home late last night, the bike was sitting in the middle of the street. Not in our yard, not on our driveway, but out in the street, kickstand down as if this was the bike’s designated parking space.
When it was time to get the other two up and out the door, my spitfire of a toddler girl was in a mood. Everything I did provoked her new favorite word, “No!” (And she says it with two syllables – “No-ah!”)
I put her socks on. She flipped and flopped hollering “No!”
I tossed her blanket and her pacifier back in her bed. (They stay there. All the time. This isn’t anything new.) She fake cried with a desperate “No!”
I went upstairs asking her to come with me. She firmly stood her ground, pouting, “No!”
In the meantime, I asked Bug to get a sweatshirt. He immediately did what I asked. Good enough, I thought. At least someone is cooperating today.
My battle with Sis continued while putting on her sweatshirt and her shoes. By this time, Bug should have been back upstairs so I yelled down to him.
He came back up saying he wanted the orange sweatshirt. “Well, where is your orange sweatshirt?”
Of course, he had no idea. But he wasn’t planning on leaving the house without it.
Sis and I fought while loading into the car and I climbed into the driver’s seat. I waited five full minutes for my middle son to come back out with a different sweatshirt. Finally, the door to our garage opened and he came out … still wearing only his t-shirt.
“What are you doing?!? If you can’t find your orange sweatshirt, put on any sweatshirt! It’s too cold not to wear something! Put on your coat! Seriously!!”
I was embarrassed by the shrillness and volume of my voice, quite aware it could very well be carrying across our yard to our neighbor’s ears.
Finally once we were en route, I tried to calmly explain how important it is to keep track of our things. Then, I reveled in those three minutes of silence. When we unloaded at daycare, Sis took one last stand, refusing to come inside hollering “No!” while standing next to the car.
I looked at our amazingly patient daycare provider and basically said, “Good luck.”
As I drove back to my office, this beautiful blog post about raising children and soaking up the moments suddenly felt lost on me. How could I say those things after an agitating morning like this? (And to be clear, it was only agitating. Nothing was broken, no one got hurt. I was just agitated.)
Well, to the best of my understanding, here’s how.
Just as our bodies can miraculously forget the intense pain of childbirth, our parental hearts and brains are as quick to forget the frustrations, the irritations and the squabbling that is par for the course as parents.
An unexpected hug request, a slow, meaningful approach to naptime and a belly laugh spurred on by nothing other than a silly face is all it takes for the anger and heartaches to melt away.
When I sat down at my computer after returning home, the video below came across my Facebook newsfeed. Yep. This one. It inspired me to write this blog post anyway, despite the distinct differences from what I had originally planned. Grab the tissues. You’ll need them.
On more occasions than I care to admit, I have found myself wanting my kids to grow up.
Just last night, we ate spaghetti for dinner. I truly can’t stand the combination of spaghetti and a toddler. I had the fleeting thought, Oh, I can’t wait until she isn’t such a messy eater.
When I have a list of things to do a mile long and one of the kids needs me, it’s so easy to think If only you could entertain yourself. I could get so much done!
And because I’m human and selfish and terribly, terribly flawed, I find myself thinking about what it’s going to be like to leave one day. Not permanently. Just on an errand. Just leave the house. Alone. Without concern over who will watch them. Who will feed them. Who will entertain them.
I see it. I know it happens. I have friends who have reached that glorious pinnacle of time when their children become so independent, their lives can resume a normal, uninterrupted schedule and pace.
It’s as if they get to live again.
I only want time to slow down when I’m feeling blissful, not when I’m eyeballs deep in daily chaos.
I know. I sound awful. And truthfully, I am. I’m awfully broken, awfully sinful and awfully in need of grace.
Today instead of reminding you to “let them be little”, I’d like to remind you instead to just be.
Every day, I try to stay in the present. I try to soak in the moments. I try to be the best mom to my kids.
And every single day, I fail.
I snap without provocation. I let ordinary spills and messes frustrate me. I struggle to find an ounce of patience for a kid who simply wants his misplaced, orange sweatshirt.
Then you know what I do?
I go to my kids. I tell them I’m sorry. I apologize for how I handled my feelings.
I ask for grace.
By humbly coming to my children, apologizing and asking for their forgiveness, I’m showing them how to do the same with me and with others.
We all need grace. Daily.
And that’s what it takes to get through this journey of parenthood. Videos like this remind me of the immense blessing of children and while this one highlights only the best, I like to be reminded that even the tough times allow for lessons and growth for all of us.
So it’s okay if you aren’t soaking up every moment. It’s okay to lose your mind sometimes.
Ask for grace. And start anew.