Friday, March 8, 2013

Savoring, Relishing, and Being

Lately, I've noticed a lot of people talking about and posting about the importance of savoring each moment of parenthood, and really enjoying the time we, as parents, get to spend with our children.
Stolen from my friend's facebook timeline.
I found myself ignoring the conversations, and scrolling past the posts on facebook, and for once, it wasn't out of annoyance that I was doing so.  I realized I was able to tune out the advice because I don't need to hear it.  I'm actually pretty stinkin' good at the Being There, Really There (hereafter known as BTRT) part of parenthood, and Husband is, too.  It's really one of those easier said than done things, therefore I have authorized myself to be a giver of advice on the subject.  You can thank me later.

Just in case you weren't struck by the truth of the words in the picture above, let me remind you of how much you, as a parent, mean to your child(ren) when they're small.  Do you ever hear about a husband or wife crying all day at work because they miss their spouse?  No.  You probably don't even hear a wistful sigh from a man, separated for hours on end from the woman whom he chose to devote his life to, vowed to cherish above all others, and loves dearly.  Granted, adults (probably) have better coping mechanisms than children, and are (usually) better at controlling their emotions, and (generally) have an understanding of the world and the fact that 40 hours a week is not forever.  But, separation anxiety and the tears children shed when left by their parents are not solely caused by a lack of adulthood.  As parents, we are our children's world.  Think about that, for a minute (I'll be snacking on some Flipz while you mull).

Relatively speaking, there are not going to be many years in which my children value my opinions over those of their friends and others.  Someday soon, 5 y.o. is going to figure out that I'm not the coolest, smartest, most accomplished mom in the biz', he'll start googling answers to his questions himself, and he'll find it a lot more fun to play with kids his own age than with me or his dad.  It's going to be even worse for me with Baby.  I'm confident that she'll be at least 2 before she figures out that her mommy has zero fashion sense, does the same boring thing with her hair every day, and can't pronounce shoe designers' names.  But, I doubt she'll make it to age 3 before she starts sighing and rolling her eyes at my ignorance.
I knew it!  I knew she was going to get bigger and bigger and that it would be hard to remember her as such a teeny tiny cuddlebug.

"Cleaning and scrubbing can wait 'til tomorrow

For babies grow up we've learned to our sorrow.

So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep

I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep."

-Author Unknown

This might seem like a an excuse to let the dust build up, but the truth of the words is undeniable (that's a word?  That's a word!).  When it comes down to the heart of the matter, it is much more important to spend time with your children than to spend time telling your children, "I can't hear you over the vacuum" or "Let me just finish dusting, and I can play with you."  Thankfully, most of us will never have to deal with the heartbreak and devastation of losing a child.  But imagine, just for a second, if the most recent time your child asked you to play was the last time.  And imagine if you chose to wash the dishes, instead.  Makes you wanna barf, no?  

I've adopted a few rules that, I think, help keep my priorities in line.  
  1. Never lie to your children.
Even about Santa.  Even about First Daddy.  Even about going 80 in a 65 mph zone.  Even about really, really disliking the things he/she wants to play.  Pokemon battles with an ultra competitive 5 y.o. are NOT FUN.  In fact, they make me want to scream, and wish that I had a legitimate reason to burn every Pokemon card in our house.  But, I don't.  I simply tell him that I don't enjoy playing when I don't understand the game, and don't care to understand the game, and that I would rather play something different.

    2.  Listen.

If you're too busy to listen, say why, not "uh huh".  And, if you're too busy to listen, figure out why!  Otherwise, our kids will stop talking to us, and we will wonder why, and we will be devastated, and we will call doctors and counselors to figure out why they won't just tell us what is going on in their lives, and it will be awful.  Sometimes, I'm trying to concentrate, or I'm trying to finish a blog post, or I'm trying to get 8 minutes of sleep on the couch, and I don't want to hear anyone talking.  But, when it comes to 5 y.o., I make sure to explain to him that it's hard to think and talk about two different things, that I want to finish what I'm typing, or that I don't want to be interrupted unless it's a 911 emergency, rather than just blowing him off.  What he says is important, and I truly want to hear it.

   3.  BTRT

Remember the screaming, remember the cutenesses, remember the laughter and the grrrrroooo (Baby's version of "vroom" when she's playing with 5 y.o.'s cars-it sounds a lot like Chewbacca) and the things they love and the things they hate and the things they say and the things they do.  The only way to do that is to pay attention.  Be there, in the moment.  Really there.  Take pictures, but not so many that you miss the action.  
Awwww!  She learned to put a hat on her head!
I make up silly games, and nonsensical songs.  Husband plays action figures and hockey and basketball and Pokemon with 5 y.o. (and actually has fun doing it), gently tosses the "Baa" to Baby over and over and over, and we dance to the twang of her musical toys for what seems like hours on end.  

Every night, I rock Baby to sleep and sing her some songs, as I did with 5 y.o. when he was much smaller.  He has no trouble falling asleep, usually, but every once in a while he asks me to sing to him like I sing to Baby, or to rock him.  He should be asleep.  He doesn't need to be rocked, or sung to.  He's a big boy.  But then, I think about what a treat and privilege it is to have a sweet son who wants to be held by me and to hear my singing, and I can't resist.  I think about how I'll feel when he's 20 and can't fit on my lap and will not ever think about wanting me to rock and sing to him.  Then, I let him get out of bed for a minute, wrestle him onto my lap, and ask him what song he wants to hear.  I've never regretted it.

Got any cutenesses to share, past or present?


  1. I have done pretty well at savoring and relishing, but certainly not in all aspects or all the time. Reminding myself of the temporariness of babyhood and childhood and even teenagerhood has helped.

    One thing I have been good at and consistent with is reading to my children. Picture books were fun, but I love reading chapter books to my children even more. We have kept reading together well beyond the age when they could read for themselves. Only 2 of my 4 children are still at home, but my 14 yr old, my 11 yr old and I have just start reading "The Lord of the Rings" series... again. I read it with my (now) 14 yr old a few years ago, but my youngest doesn't remember it.

    I know from reading your blogpost "Nineteen" that you will agree that passing on a joy of books and reading is a wonderful thing.

    1. You're absolutely right- even if everything goes perfectly, and there are no tragedies, our kids are still going to grow up. They're going to do it much faster than we'd like, too.

      I love that you still read to your kids! Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my mom reading to my siblings and me, even after we knew how to read.