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How to Enjoy Your Children
Don't Just Endure Motherhood, Revel In It!
Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
For children grow up we've learned to our sorrow.
Quiet down cobwebs, dust, go to sleep,
I'm rocking my baby and babies won't keep.
This poignant poem hung as a cross stitch in my house as I grew up, a gentle and constant reminder for my own mother.
“I can’t wait till she’s six months old!” I can remember saying this more than once about my newborn daughters. I know some people are naturals at those first few months and all the challenges that accompany them, but it’s not my favorite stage. Fortunately, I’ve been gifted (or is it cursed) with an overdose of practicality, and I do recognize that each stage my daughters go through is precious and needs to be cherished. So even during those stages that are trying for me personally, I try to focus on the positive points and make myself realize that these moments will slip away much too quickly. A few years from now, I’ll be exclaiming, “I wish she was tiny again! I miss….”
I had my first child and was immediately thrown into a world of the unknown. Why does she cry so much? Why can’t I get her to sleep holding her? Why don’t I know how to calm her down, isn’t that supposed to come naturally? Why does she take such short naps? And no one could give me definitive answers; unfortunately, there usually aren’t any. The baby cried, and I cried too, almost as much as her. I remember, at that time, if someone would have offered to take her away and bring her back in a year, I would have gladly handed her over. I wanted my old, certain life back, the one where I knew all the answers.
A friend of mine gave me a little piece of advice that made all the difference, and stays with me as I progress through motherhood. Let me preface her advice by saying, this is a mom whose easy day is more difficult than my worst. She is a single mother of two young boys and her youngest is 90% deaf. At two years old, she was struggling not only to get him to keep his cochlear implants on, but to sign and talk and catch up developmentally to where he should have been. As she gave me the listening ear I needed, she told me, “When things are hard with Silas, I make myself focus on what he does well. Right now, he’s really good for his teachers at church and at school. So when I get frustrated with his behavior at home, I tell myself over and over, ‘He’s really good at church. And he’s really good at school.’ I know things are hard with Hope right now, but focus on what is good.”
I heeded her advice immediately, and it was amazingly effective in shifting my attitude upward. Things were still tough, Hope still cried and I couldn’t get her to stop. But now, instead of just being frustrated, I would tell myself, “She breastfeeds really well and she sleeps through the night.” Just telling myself those two things helped me get through five extremely draining months.
Now I look back, and though I still remember how challenging those months were, I hardly remember Hope being so small. The memories of her having no hair on her little head are mostly photographs now.
It’s too easy as a mother to get caught up in the routines and the monotony of each day. It seems acceptable to rush through what seem like necessary evils in our rush to get our children grown, or at least to what we see as a better or easier stage.
I heard a song recently that spoke these lessons better than I can. It was by an artist named Steven Curtis Chapman. A song he wrote for his daughter, who later died tragically at the age of five, about her dancing with him as a child and eventually as a bride. The chorus declares that he will enjoy his dances with “Cinderella” because soon she’ll be gone. I cried when I heard it the first time, because I vividly saw my own sweet toddler, Hope, dancing in the living room, she thinks she can do ballet. She dances and sways and spins and my husband and I laugh at how endearing she is. As I listened to the song, I knew that the days would come all too soon when Hope won’t want to dance for Mommy and Daddy. And not long after that, “she will be gone”, just as the song intones.
Let go of your worries for a few minutes- go back to the days of finger painting! Have fun WITH your child.
It is, perhaps, the hardest part of parenting. As they depend on us for food, shelter, clothing, and love; we’re supposed to be teaching them to take care of themselves. And as we long to hold on to them and keep them close to us forever, we’re also supposed to be teaching them not to need us, to be independent. Is there any greater paradox?
Hold on to these precious times; whatever stage of parenting you are in right now, it is precious. Hold on to these points in time, they will be gone much too soon. Some day, even the days that are hard for you now will be treasured times you will wish you could get back again.
So let the laundry go some days. Let the dust sit a little longer. That phone call can wait. Imagine yourself twenty years from now. When you look back on today, what will be your regrets? Will you be wishing that you would have kept your house cleaner? That you would have spent more hours at the office? Or will those regrets have more to do with the little lives that keep you so busy right now?
We’re all guilty of not enjoying our children enough. But let’s turn the tide. It’s too easy as a mom to rush through life and motherhood and our kids. Times are often tough, and we wish for some days to pass quickly… but then those days are gone, and we wish we could have them back for just a moment.
I don’t want to do that anymore! I want to enjoy Hope and Violet. I want to treasure these days of having two little girls at home. They will be gone much too soon.
Your children are a treasure. They’re not something to be rushed through or endured. They are like an elegant meal or a superb glass of wine, they are meant to be savored. They are worth time standing still, if need be.
- An advice article from a mother of teens, for those of us with little ones
- Enjoy Your Children- a whole web site about enjoying your kids!
- How To Enjoy Your Children More: Five Tips for Getting More From the Parent Child Relationship
Parenting really can be more fun than frustrating. Don't think so? These five tips may just change your mind. Enjoy your children more!