I was part of an online momming community for a while called something like the Longest/Shortest Time. I quit it because the moms on it are like me, terribly neurotic. It didn’t intend to be judgmental, but still it stressed me out to read about all the creative things women across the world had found to freak out about that I’d been neglecting.
It seems that every single thing in my house is choking hazard poison and that my kids’ brains turn to brain confetti if they watch more than 7 minutes of TV. Also, I’m probably not documenting my kids’ poops adequately. I’m most definitely poisoning my kids by giving them both Slurpees 3 days in a row this weekend, as a reward for Henry learning to ride his bike(!!) He probably should be getting some broccoli or a vocabulary test as a prize, instead.
So, my insecurities got the best of me and I left that group, but I loved the name. It referenced the fact that each day as a parent can seem interminable, but overall, the time of our kids’ childhoods goes by in a flash.
I’m regularly reminded of the flash part by people in the current grandparent generation. Every single time I see my neighbor, she says things like “it goes so fast,” and “cherish it! They’ll be grown before you know it!” I know she’s right, and she’s probably telling me in code to put my damned phone down and play with my kids, but I think it’s difficult (and unnecessary) to cherish our kids ever single second.
Some days are long and stressful and I need some me time that is child-cherish-free, and sometimes the little animals aren’t doing very cherish-able things. I AIM to always make my kids feel like they are the God’s beautiful creatures and I’m #blessed to know them, but it’s hard to treat every precious moment like it’s their last before they get kidnapped by goblins and swept into the underworld to serve the goblin king. Sometimes I have to do laundry. Or ignore them so I can blog about them. Or whatever. Sometimes they can, and should, play by themselves.
I do spend plenty of time memorizing their now faces and appreciating who they are today. I’ve been observing Anna lately and have concluded that 2 year-olds are actually the perfect humans.
Hear me out. From our perspective, they’re hard to deal with…but for they themselves, they have no self-doubt, no guilt or worry or fear, or the other distracting, eroding emotions we older folks feel. They are so direct and self-actualized. It’s the last time you can be a total sociopath and no one is alarmed by you. There’s something so nice and simple about demanding what you want, fighting like hell for it, and not caring about anyone else’s interests…plus you still have cute fat cheeks and a tiny squeaky voice, so people don’t bounce you out on your butt.
Of course, it’s also an exciting time of growth. She’s developing ego and those more complex feelings. We witness her processing things and adding to her brain bank in front of us. Now, instead of always screaming like a tea kettle at Henry when he’s up in her grill, she says, ‘YOU’RE MAKING ME FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE’ or ‘TOO MUCH. TOO MUCH.’ It’s important to me that they both can identify/express that feeling.
So, she’s gathering the language to express her thoughts and feelings. She almost resembles a person now, but she’s still mostly a little id monster. Just now, we were pretending to pet an invisible kitten and she was cuddling and petting it until she said ‘I’M GOING TO BREAK ITS EARS. I BROKE THEM.’ Insert scared cat emoji here.
The last few weeks, we’ve been teaching Henry to ride a bike. This is a good example of how certain moments seem to crawl by, but are actually speeding over life’s time map.
He got a two-wheeler bike for his birthday in early June. He’s been riding a balance bike for years, and we were under the impression that he’d have no problems just jumping on a pedal bike and going. It wasn’t that easy, he fell a few times and he got nervous. He said he HATED IT and WOULD NEVER RIDE A BIKE AGAIN.
So we adults played bad cop/bad cop and forced him to try a few laps in front of our house every night for the past week. It is painful and exhausting to hunch over, chasing a tiny bike in 90 degree heat, with the rider complaining and shrieking in fear and frustration. Robb and I would rotate every lap or two out of our own frustration/fatigue (teaching a kid to ride a bike, reason #612 it’s easiest to have 2 adults per child and the single parents deserve all our love).
Then, out of the blue, he got it. He just took off and did it. And keeps doing it. When asked how he figured it out, he said, I JUST THREW MY SCARED TO THE SIDE AND PUT MY BRAVE IN FRONT OF ME.
Wow. Alright then. All this time, he had to do it himself, he had to fix his fear/brave positioning, and then he could do it. Now he says, WHENEVER YOU ASK ME IF I WANT TO RIDE BIKES, I’M GOING TO SAY, ‘OF COURSE!’
So, those afternoons of forcing him to try were really long and painful, but it was only 1 week of our lives, and now he has this bike riding skill for the rest of his. And now, YOU KNOW WHAT MY FAVORITE THING TO DO IS? RIDE MY BIKE.
Learning to sit, crawl, walk, run, ride a bike, read, go to the bathroom in a place that flushes, learning how to express and control emotions, learning how to discern between good risks and bad….it seems like it takes forever, but then, boom! They’re doing it. The days are long but the lessons and phases fly by.
So now when baby boomers remind me to cherish my kids, I think I’ll answer that I’m trying, but I’m looking forward to all their phases, from now through adulthood. My hanging onto their precious moments won’t stop them from growing up. I wouldn’t want to. They’re teaching themselves all kinds of things every day. Like how to put their scared aside and put their brave up front.