Let me tell you a little about the day in the life of our 1 year old and our 3 year old that just happened pretty recently. Ok, in all honesty, it happened last night and this morning during our family vacation. We all come with certain expectations when we come on vacation, right? Expectations like we’re gonna have golden moments all the time. I’m gonna get exactly what my soul needs. Our kids are gonna make memories that will last them a lifetime. My husband and I will reconnect. And the list goes on. But let’s face it: parenting can be tough. Like, a lot of the time! And it doesn’t take a vacation on family vacation.
So here is what my last 24 hours looked like:
We’re potty training the 3 year old, and while at a restaurant she goes poo in her pants. However, we forgot to bring a change of pants, so the Moana underwear were used as a wipe and thrown away, and we happened to find a pullup diaper to put on her. Finished eating and got in the car, taking off the poop-smelling pants so she doesn’t get it on the booster seat. Take the 15 minute car drive to where we’re staying, while tickling the 1 year old so he doesn’t fall asleep before we get home to put him down for a nap. Arrive “home” to where we change everyone’s diaper, and put on clean undies on the 3 year old, and put everyone down for a nap. Whew. Take a breather while our kids nap, and then when they wake up, go on a bike ride to a garden. But first, change of plans, must stop at the playground because that’s what we did yesterday when we took a bike ride, so if we don’t do that today all hell will break loose for our 3 year old as we are in pre-meltdown mode. Avert the meltdown by taking a detour to the playground before the garden: success. The next few hours pass by in the routines of site-seeing with toddlers and then rushing “home” to get food to eat and bath time, stories, songs and bed. Kids go to bed and hubby and I crash in a zombie-like state of PTSD after accomplishing another great day of family vacation with toddlers! After zoning out, we summon enough energy to prepare food and watch a movie before collapsing into bed. 2 hours later, after we’ve fallen asleep, our 1 year old screams and wakes us all up – teething. For the next 2 hours we trade off rocking, singing, feeding him back to sleep. 4 hours later our 3 year old is up and ready to go at it again! Sigh… Yay! Good morning…
So we get up and do the morning routine: potty, food, etc. She then asks for the iPad. We sometimes do the iPad, so I, in my exhausted state, succumb to the pressure of the electronic babysitter, and let her have the iPad so I can have a minute to myself to eat, wake up, etc. 15 minutes later it’s time to go, and because she is getting pulled away from the beloved iPad, a full meltdown occurs. I mean, we’re talking tantrum on steroids. And then the next hour is a meltdown about everything: combing her hair, walking a different route to the beach than last time, going out a different door to the car…on and on and on… You know, one of those mornings. One of those days. And I of course am blaming myself for the iPad, which started it all. If I could only be a super mom and not need sleep and just put my needs aside… You know, all the mom-shaming things we hear or say to ourselves. And my poor 1 year old is just kind of watching the whole thing. If he was at the age of eating popcorn, I’m sure he would have loved some for the show. We get in the car and then he starts crying and having a meltdown, as she is now collecting herself and now excited for the adventure at hand. You know the drill. An hour later and it’s still his turn with the meltdown, throwing food at me because he wanted to eat something else first… Ah, family vacations with little ones…. The golden memories and moments being written on our hearts…hahahaha…
And as I write this, I feel somewhat guilty with the things that people say like “it goes by so fast…” or “…you’ll look back and relish these moments…” And I know it’s true.
And that is what brings me to this truth that I have come to know: our kids are raising us. We think we are doing all the heavy lifting, and in some ways we are. But in a lot of ways the thing that makes parenting to tough is that we don’t know what the heck we’re doing! And once you get it down, they suddenly are going through a new phase, and we are starting all over again. And once you get it down with one, it really doesn’t matter because the next one is a completely different person so it’s a whole new journey again. Yep, our kids are raising us. Here are some of the things that they are raising in us or teaching us lately:
- Slow down – it’s really not that important, whatever it is. There is much beauty to be had in the small moments that can at first seem mundane.
- Let go of expectations. Why are we going and doing and being all that? Stop! Let go of it all and let whatever happens today happen. No expectations. Just BE.
- I can be quite the selfish jerk. Why is my agenda so important? Maybe importance looks a bit different in the whole scheme of things. Maybe what’s important is sitting on the floor and rolling a ball back and forth for 40 minutes. Maybe that’s how we conquer the day, as I download quality time and simple unconditional love into my baby’s hard drive of his soul.
- Going potty should always be celebrated, no matter where it takes place! It’s an amazing thing to have a working internal plumbing system, and don’t care what the person in the next stall thinks. Shout “I’m a big girl!! I kept my underwear dry! Tinkle tinkle!!” Potty training will slow down your life, but it will also open up your soul to the little miracles of tiny celebrations that we, as adults, take for granted and think are merely routine.
- Take a nap! Slow down long enough to let your mind, body and soul rest. And sleep close with those you love. It’s a great thing to snuggle. And when it’s time to get up, be ready for the next adventure.
- Anytime is a good time for snack time!
- Dance to good music. Who cares what people think! This moment is amazing – so dance away!
- Everyone can be a friend.
- There are many things in life that need repeating – especially the things that bring us joy.
- There’s no such thing as wearing out a good song. It’s a good song, so play it, sing it, shout it!
- Everything is unpredictable. Although routines are necessary, human emotion is a force that is not tamed. So breathe deeply and remind yourself that it’s not about you, and not to take it personally. This tiny human is wild and beautiful and complicated. None of us, including the child themselves, have dealt with this particular person before.
- Don’t be afraid to get dirty – that’s when the real fun begins! A mess can usually be cleaned up later, and most of the time it’s worth the memories that will be made.
- Take a timeout. It can be frustrating, and that’s ok. Just take a moment to step away and regroup, reminding yourself of the bigger picture. Timeouts aren’t just for little kids.
- Don’t forget what it’s like to be a kid. Hang onto the magic. Don’t lose sight of the wonder.
- Don’t worry so much about hair, and makeup, and clothing styles. The day is wasting! Let’s go play!
- Everything is fleeting. These moments will be gone soon. So breathe. Stop. Be. Perhaps that’s where the golden memory maker is…
As I write this, it seems that it all comes down to one thing: Being Present. When I look at the moments in my life that were golden, it was when I was present and aware of the miracle of now. Or it was realized after it passed, as I look at pictures and reminisce that moment and how perfect it was… and most likely while I was in it, I was probably distracted from the gift of it. Maybe I was wrapped up in work, or perhaps I was worried about some stress in my life. Or maybe I was planning for the future. In fact, when you think about it, most of our present moments are caught up in longing for something from the past, or worrying/planning for something in the future. And in so doing, we miss LIVING. We miss being present.
In the last 24 hours there were also other moments. Like when my 1 year old wraps his tiny long arms around my neck and gives me a tiny squeeze. Or when my 3 year old is repeating things I say to her as she plays with her paw patrol, saying things like “be careful! you don’t want to get hurt!” as she mothers them. Or taking a minute to stare into the face of one of them, and say “I love you!” Or laugh about nothing in general. Or scream in delight as we chase them after a bath to get their jammies on. Or when music is playing and food is cooking and we’re living the mundane routine life, and I capture that moment with them all siting at the table, realizing that it one day will be a golden moment to reminisce back upon. Yes these are the moments. This is the life…
Yes, so many times we are not present to the gift of NOW. That, ultimately, is what my kids are teaching me lately. To live in the present moment. To be ALIVE RIGHT NOW. The lessons will continue to come, but that has been one way that my kids have been raising me lately. And, with that, my kids just woke up from their nap…so I’m off to practice the presence of NOW living…