I was on the phone with a friend the other evening while my children screamed, whined and antagonized one another. My two-year-old seems to enjoy tormenting her brother. Their relationship has evolved a bit from the early days.
In the early days, I so prided myself on the fact that there was no detectable animosity from my boy toward his sister, no envy either. Only love and affection. I naively believed it was a reflection of my superior parenting practices. Well, we were just such loving parents, I thought (and may have even said out loud), of course our children only know love.
Well, actually…actually my daughter was immobile and therefore unable to cramp her brother’s style very much. In these early days when you could lay Mia down, go do something, and come back to find her much in the same spot where you had left her, it was easy for Nolan to love her. In the stages before this current one in which Mia will stop what she is doing to go wrestle a toy out of Nolan’s hands, and the next one that he happens to pick up, and the next one…those stages were the easy ones.
So I was talking to my friend and wrapping up our conversation so that I could tend to the kids before Mia resorted to pinching Nolan, and my friend said to me, “I don’t know how you do it,” or something to that effect.
And I mulled it over and said, “Well, I just tell myself that I love every minute that I spend with my kids. Because if I go the other way, and start saying ‘God, would you just leave me alone for a minute, I just need a moment’s peace’ then that will become my attitude. But if I just keep reminding myself that I love every minute with my children, then that becomes my frame of mind. So…oh! Uh-oh! Gotta go!” and with that I ended our conversation and released Nolan from Mia’s clutches.
And so I have been thinking a lot about how I have to define my own attitude toward parenting. After all, I chose this. I planned it. I checked the ovulation calendar and made a date with my husband. I have to choose my attitude or I will go crazy. I can easily get to feeling as though the world is off its orbit with the chaos and the noise, and dear God, the mess. I can barely tolerate this mess.
I am not trying to preach as though I personify maternal perfection. I fail. It shames me to think of the times that I have failed. And there are times that I must remind myself to embrace this.
Last night I have Mia some medicine to help manage her congestion. I think that the meds must have made her jittery at bedtime. When I tried to lay her down, she cried for me and stood up. She did not want out of bed, but she also did not want me to leave. I stood there embracing her for a very long time. Finally, she lay down but still protested when I made moves to leave. I first stood, stroking her hair, then sat, then lay on the floor near her crib until she was soundly sleeping. I let myself go, let everything go. I can so easily succumb to thoughts of dishes in the sink, lunches to be made, clothes that need ironing. But last night I was resolute…I love this, these moments are precious and fleeting, I told myself. Some day, my children will be gone and busy building their own lives. But today, they are mine. I must enjoy these moments while I’ve got them.