Tibault & Toad

Posts with tag: parenthood

not wishing the time away

I've been doing so much and I have so many pictures and words to share, but while my hands are momentarily clean of garden dirt I'm just popping in to wish my other mother readers and friends a happy belated Mothers' Day. While it is special to be celebrated by your children and husband for mothering your family, I like the day most for the reminder it is to pause and reflect on how grateful I am to be a mother, and for these children who have made me such, and how I'd like to be a better one. On Sunday, a mother of four grown children, and spiritual mother to many more, was sharing some words of wisdom during the church service. She said the same words I have heard so many times before: don't wish the time away, don't always be wishing for the next stage in life. And yet yesterday, as I was rocking Tenny in the dark quiet of his room before his nap, the weight of his substantial little body slumped fully against me and his little arms straight down by his sides (a funny thing he does when he's decided he's ready to sleep), those words were going through my mind again. For once I could actually feel how he felt in my arms, and my whole mind was bent towards trying to understand, my brow furrowed trying to wrap my head around the fact that at one point he did not exist at all, and somehow now here he was, with half of my genes, my own body having added matter to him for 8 some months, and really continuing to do so. And here he was, a whole little soul, feeling like an actual physical part of me and yet distinctly separate from me. And how very full my heart!  And also, how very vulnerable that makes me feel! People everywhere are so very grateful and eager, it seems, to postpone or avoid parenthood, with all its "work" and "duties", but they cannot begin to comprehend the depth of joy. A new life from me! And how I see myself in them! There, a flash, a glimpse of that same gold in their hair, that sea green speckled in their irises, that look, that laugh! And how misguided to believe that the hardest part is the responsibility or sass or dirty diapers! Indeed, the hardest part is, as they say, that "your heart is walking around outside your body", and yet such is the risk of such fierce love. 

And so, as his breathing settled into the same rhythm as the rocking of the chair, I did not want him to start walking or talking, and I did not want to do anything else. I was happy to just have him sleeping on me, and could have just sat in the dark with him forever, knowing that a day will come when I will give practically anything just to have him this small again, small enough to fit in my arms, wanting to be close, needing me. I felt so grateful, so in awe of it all. For once, I was not wishing the time away.

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do me a "favorite"

When she got to the top of the stairs, and I kid you not, she thanked me for letting her pull that basket of rags up for me. Well my pleasure!

Recently, more and more, I have been giving Indy tasks and responsibility. Sometimes it's just play that also happens to develop useful skills (like "washing the dishes"), but it is also frequently a genuinely helpful favor (she calls them "favorites," as in, "mommy can I do you a favorite?"). I've written before about how her competence often surprises me. As a freshly three year old she unloaded this clean basket of rags from the dryer and pulled it up the stairs, she carries wet diapers upstairs to the diaper pail, drops them in, and brings the cover back downstairs for me. She routinely gets me fresh diapers and clothes for Tenny, and occasionally helps me clean up toys. These are legitimately useful "favorites," and after she completes them she beams with satisfaction. She even helped me start some seeds the other day, her tiny hand quivering with attempted precision as she dropped them, two at a time, from the quarter teaspoon into the tiny holes in the soil. Okay, I'm bragging on her a little bit, but I am a proud mama.

I think useful work that contributes to family life is so important for children, and yet a seeming rarity in childhood these days. I think people are hesitant because it can be hard to be patient, or because they don't think small (or sometimes older) children are capable or should have to do chores or other "work". If children don't get the opportunity to work at useful tasks, everyone suffers; the family suffers because they don't have the extra set of hands helping out, and the child suffers because they miss out on opportunities to learn good work ethic and gain a positive sense of self. A little patience now, to teach and correct as they learn, pays off in the long run when they are genuinely able and helpful. I promise you're not robbing them of their childhood (if anything is robbing them of their childhood, it's spending 6 or 7 hours in a classroom everyday, but that's a post for another time). The lines between play and work are pretty darn blurred at this age, and I hope to stick my foot in the door while I can. Plus, I've rarely met a 3 year old who didn't want to help in some way. Usually it sounds like nagging to the parent. I'm no expert; I'm still working on positioning myself to teach her how to do things herself rather than just get her out of my hair. It's hard. Personally I really, really struggle with patience, but I can't deny her those beaming moments, and I daresay that if this whole experiment called parenting pays off, I'll be mighty glad in a few years for the precious helping hands.

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