Finding Joy in Parenting: Let them be Little
Things to do with Kids: New Year’s Resolution
‘They grow up so fast’, the gentleman sitting next to us on the Gautrain said half to himself, half to me as he was watching my 3-year-old and 1-year-old excitedly bouncing up and down in their seats. I looked at him, smiling politely, yet tired (I had heard this saying so often after all) when he spoke again, ‘Really, listen to me, I know parenting is hard and you are tired but soak it all in. It doesn’t seem like it now, but in the blink of an eye they will be 18 and 20 and you will be sitting here, like me, wondering where the time has gone. Let them be little and enjoy it.’
This time I did listen, because, truth be told, raising two kids has been harder than I ever imagined it would be. Little K had, during the first year of his life, never (and I mean never) slept more than 3 hours at a time: I was tired and so tired of being tired. Add a rowdy, busy ‘threenager’ into the mix and my frame of mind, strength of character, and level of patience seemed frailer than it should be. I often found myself yearning for my little ones to be older, to need me less.
I often wonder what my kids will remember when they look back at these formative years: a happy, fun and loving mom, or a sad, tired and angry bag of bones. I try hard for it to be the former and I carve out time every day for us to simply play and to forget about chores and work, but there are days when I think that all they will remember is the latter.
‘Let them be little’ is another phrase which I hear so often, but it is not until this man on the train, filled with nostalgia, randomly spoke to me, that the meaning really sank in. I decided then and there that this would be my new year’s resolution: simply let them be little. Instead of wishing for a time when Bean would no longer need me to fall asleep, I will soak in his love and his sleepy breaths. Instead of wishing Little K will sleep more, I will embrace his night time cuddles. I will let them jump on the bed (because I really do not see the harm in it), I will leave the toys and only tidy once a day (because who has the energy to try and persuade kids to tidy toys all day, every day?), I will allow the kids to go crazy with the flour when we bake (because happy memories are worth more than the stress of the mess that needs to be cleaned after) and I will play and run and laugh with them when they need it.
I do not know why we place so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. Life is not perfect and therefore we cannot expect that of ourselves. Our homes do not have to be perfect and our kids do not have to be perfect. We get so caught up in daily routines and stresses which are more often than not so unnecessary, that we fall into a cycle of negativity. We try and squeeze ourselves into small mindsets and society’s norms and we need to stop. We need to do what is right for us and we need to do it with pride and with strength. We need to grow and stand tall, regardless of whether we fit in or not (because we will fit in; there is space).
This year, I will try and find perfection in the chaos of life with two small kids. I will find joy in their laughter and wonder in their curiosity. This year, I will let me be me and let the kid be kids; we will simply live and I encourage you to do the same.