My little ones are funny. Especially, the smallest of the little ones, Kennedy. She tells me all the time she doesn’t want to get older. She asked if she could stay five this year when her sixth birthday rolled around in the serious way that five-year-olds talk about Disney Princesses being actual, real human beings. She believed it so it could be.
I can remember being a kid and I couldn’t wait until I was older to be able to make my own choices and not be parented. I could eat all the snacks and watch all the movies. No, I did not want to remain a kid. I wished those years away and you know? I wouldn’t go back to that.
Maybe that means M and I are too easy on our kids? I don’t know. We expect a lot from them and often I think we forget how young they actually are based on what we require of them. Our list of rules is long but I think they’re really good girls. I have to credit that to the standard of behavior we require and not my actual parenting skills because, friends, I’m severely lacking in the sympathetic mom category. I more closely relate to that tiger mother but without the actual follow-through because ain’t nobody got time for that.
Yesterday, Kennedy kept coming into my office at the end of my work day and kinda whining at me. Like a half cry and half whine but she didn’t know why, so I asked her to leave and check her attitude. Again, not sympathetic. She walks back in about 5 minutes later and says, “mom I’m tired.” School recess. That will do it.
I’m not cold to them but I don’t always love my kids touching on me and laying all over me. I like my space. I have 2 little girls who are touchy, feely, girly, sensitive and just generally affectionate. They look like me but I think they’re soft and sweet inside like their daddy. They want me to let them lay directly on me at all times including but not limited to eating dinner, watching a movie, work, picking up, driving the car, talking on the phone, showering. You name it, they want to be on me. That’s not usually Kennedy though. That’s her older sisters. Kennedy likes to play alone. Her teachers were concerned about it this year (even called us into a meeting about it) but we know that’s just who she is and who she always has been. She doesn’t like to do what everybody else is doing, she’s fiercely independent. She asks a kid at church their name before she leaves just so she can assure us she talked to SOMEONE else that day but left up to her? She’d find something that nobody else was interested in and do that.
As my twins reach the ripe age of 8, they understand personal space and social norms more and more. So the demanded snuggle and consoling is less and less, which I’m both thankful for and fearful of in a strange twist of emotion. I opened my arms up to see if Kennedy wanted to sit on my lap yesterday while I finished work and she crawled up just like this.
She wrapped both arms around my neck and shoulders. She laid her chest on my chest and she just put her head on me. I think she just wanted to hear me breathe and to hold her. I realize that soon she’s not going to be this small and she’s not going to want to crawl up on me when she’s tired. I had to let it happen. About 5 minutes later she was done, she unhooked herself from me and she smiled the rest of the night. This is not something I can ever remember doing with my mom as a kid. I don’t think I would have asked her to let me lay on her. Emotions and touching = awkward and uncomfortable. Better just avoid it.
I breathed in every moment of this time with her. I think I needed it as much as she did. Sometimes, as a mom, I don’t feel overly skilled or equipped. Often I feel awkward in motherhood. Sometimes, though, the girls tell me exactly how they feel about how I’m doing. This is one of those times.
I have to be doing something right. I’m reminded that we’re all doing the best we can with what we have. Many of us…ME…grew up in a crazy situation and our model of parenthood was anything but healthy. We’re trying to figure it out, aren’t we? Take these little hugs as a sign that you’re doing it. Give yourself some grace. They may remember that you yelled at them once and completely lost your shit but they’ll also remember that you hugged them and let them just be tired on you. They need to see that anyway. What kind of situation are we setting them up for if they think we always got it right as a mom? They’re going to be miserable when the reality of parenting smacks them across the face and kicks them in the chest on DAY ONE. They need us to be flawed.
I snapped this photo with my computer not 24 hours ago and I’m already at my end with my kids today. This feeling is fleeting. Capture as much as you can. Tell yourself to remember it. Try to think about it when you’re ready to let the neighbors have one of them for keeps.
That thing that moms with grown up kids say to us that we hate? The dreaded 4 words: “THEY GROW UP FAST.” We curse that horrible phrase when it’s said to us standing in Target while the kids beg you mercilessly for things they don’t need and then throw a complete attitude when the answer is no. The stranger looks on our terrible reality wistfully and sighs that annoying “you’ve got the life” sigh. That’s not what we want to hear but you know it and I know it…
It’s going by fast. Just look back and see how fast and yet how slow. As a mom, I tend to forget when I get it right and remember all the things I screw up. There’s got to be more grace, moms. When I say grace I simply mean forgiveness without merit. More grace from us to ourselves. We’re never going to be perfect so why are we expecting it from ourselves? Don’t pretend it’s all going to be 5-minute hugs and great manners. It’s the trenches. It’s hard. You’re doing it right, even when it feels all wrong.