Artist & Writer, San Francisco Bay Area

Only Little for a Little While

He is so little, my little Zee. I love him.

I have this new outlook on mothering/child-rearing that is really helping me. It’s a change of my whole frame of mind.

You see, just to preface it all, I have to say that I have many kinds of friends who are parents. I have friends who have teenagers. I have friends who have kids in college. I have friends who have kids my age, and their kids have kids. I have friends who have kids who have special needs. I have friends who have adopted, who have had/are having twins, and who just have plain kids who are the same age as my kids. Some have 4 kids, some have 1. Is it possible I have too many friends? Well, it’s a good problem (I’m told) ☺ and it’s amazing I keep up with them all in small ways. I don’t know how. I go through periods of time where I just have to go hermit and breathe for a little while. Just a little. (Thus less blog entries lately. I couldn’t even think.)

Anyway, with all these friends, I have this mental box where I seem to have collected “what to do’s” and “what not to do’s” for living and parenting. And I think it became something more than that. I collected warnings, the Don’t Ever Do This ones, and the Don’t Ever Do That ones. I could look at the expanse of experiences that my friends have had, and I could cull from them the How To’s of raising my kids. Not that I have ever claimed to have exact answers or to have figured it out. But I just started to gain an understanding of what I didn’t want.

And I have this five year old who loves to defy being defined. He keeps me guessing and he keeps me on my toes. He is interesting and smart. He marks his own way. He loves to choose Option #3 when you have given him Options #1 & #2. And so on a deep, undetected level, I have realized I have been terrified by Teenager Him. Why? Because I can’t predict him. No one can really control teenagers, but with him, I have never had the blessing of the illusion of control that small children can bestow. Would it get only harder when he got older?

And I read something that just rocked my frame of reference for how I parent.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Actually, I heard it, because I have been listening to the Word of Promise, and it’s been mind blowing sometimes.

So, this really did something for me.

I realized I have been parenting my kids out of fear for how they could turn out ten or fifteen years from now, not the two and five year olds that they are now.  I have been parenting “going to be teenagers”, not my little kids. I need to parent the kids that they are today, not who I fear they might become.

And do you know what I get now instead?

Laughter over Zee’s sense of humor when he shows me the food in his mouth and dances at the dinner table even while he’s sitting in his seat.

Acceptance (a little) over how much I can’t contain my kids, and not ascribing it to them being out of control, but to them being two & five.

Being able to follow Enn’s lead more, without having to impose my will on him more often than not, because I am not as afraid that he’ll run me over with his demands

Conversely, being able to lay down the law in more benign things, like “Yes, you Will throw away all the trash– yourself,” “Yes, you Will put your shoes into the shoe basket when you come in the door,” “Yes, you Will eat the food I prepared for this meal and not say you’re full only to ask for a snack in five minutes. You may leave the table now, but if you are hungry in five minutes, you will come back & You Will Eat This Food, not snack food.” “You Will eat your peas, your carrots, your meat.” Yes You Will! (Can you tell I am a little excited about this one?) Because now I am less afraid that he will hate me when he’s a teenager for always telling him what to do. Because, Yes, I am at heart a very controlling mama.

I just get to laugh with them more. I see their sweet faces, and I laugh with them. Even when sometimes they are being a little naughty. (I pick my battles still.)

I get to stop what I am doing more and spend more time with them. Because I am less afraid about losing myself as a mother on the whole, I can just make sure my life is balanced today. Not being afraid of having days where I give them everything I have, and then I burn out completely. I see that I can close my laptop, and I can watch Blue Planet with Enn because he wants to show me how Salmon Sharks are related to the Great White Shark. And how seals close their eyes in the sand storms. And how cool the Killer Whales are. And I can tell him to wait while Mommy finishes her e-mail, because he trusts that I actually will spend good time with him, and I trust it will not last hours on end. And afterwards, I send him outside to play, because I can also lay down the law, and even though he whines & complains about it because he’d rather be inside, within five minutes (less than) of standing right outside the door, he sees his best buddy Isa from next door, and they are laughing, screaming, playing. And Mommy knows that he needs quality kid time. And I lay down on the couch to rest. A little.

Today I packed a lunch for Zee since I am used to packing Enn’s every day, and one for Zee every MWF, so I packed one up for the two of us, and I determined to go to the park with him. I never did this with Enn when he was 2 and he was the only child. It was always a fight to get him to leave the house & get his focus on something other than what he wanted to do at home and once we got to the park, besides the constant complaining about how he wanted the other snack, not the one I brought, how it was too hot/cold, or how he wanted to be in/out of the stroller… once we got past all that, and it was time to go… he didn’t want to leave.

I never took Enn to the park much. And I often felt guilty about it compared to the good mamas who loved park days with their kids.

I did not love park days!

Anyway, I took Zee, and after dropping Enn at Kindergarten, I decided… let’s take a drive to a sweet park farther away! And we did. It had a rock stream, and just so many cool details, it had everything to do with being a park that’s smack in the middle of rich people land. Goody for us.

And we walked, and went down slides, and got wet, and took off shorts (not me, just him), and rocked, and climbed. We threw out a sheet, and we picnicked. And we laughed, and I had to teach him how not to stuff his mouth with food so thick he has to spit it out and then eat it again in smaller chunks. How to bite, chew, swallow, repeat. And not gross people out.

Some things you can’t be taught in preschool.

I love the little sweet moments with my kids. I love their littleness. And that I have this now, won’t have it forever, but now- it’s sweetness that really gets me. I love having my two & five year old boys.

Even if I am a little neurotic & don’t enjoy it as much as I could. Well, at least I am learning.

A little.

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