Around 6 pm in my house on any given night you will more than likely find me in the kitchen making dinner while shouting at my kids to stop hitting each other, to share their toys or to find another activity. You’ll see me put my head in my hands and force a few deep breaths as I push the dog off of the counter. You’ll hear my kids yelling, me yelling and my dog barking with My Little Pony playing in the background. You will feel the chaotic energy when you walk in.The scent of something delicious will hit your nose (or maybe the smell of veggie dogs). You will see messes building up all over the living room and bits of fluff from dog toys in every room of the house.
Sometimes in the throes of toddlerhood, I forget what I felt the first time I saw my children. The way I waited so patiently for them to arrive, the way I loved them before they were conceived. I forget the first time I held them and felt emotions that cannot be explained so simply… a mixture of joy, bliss, fear, worry, love and extreme tiredness. Well, I suppose I don’t forget the tired part.
I went to bed the other night after a long and stressful day thinking of how this is not what I want. I don’t want to think of my kids as just another obstacle to getting my chores done. I don’t want to feel angry every time they make messes, I don’t want to feel defeated every time they pee their beds. I don’t want to not enjoy my children anymore.
Does this mean the stress of it all has gone away? Not even close. They still pee their beds, scream at each other and this week I was made aware that my son doesn’t love me because I served him an apple. What has changed though, is the amount of time I spend focusing on the good instead of the bad.
I’ve learned that I under estimated my children. That in the midst of trying to get them to behave in a way I deem acceptable, I’ve missed out on seeing bits of their intelligence and glimpses of their true nature.
I’ve learned that my daughter loves vegetables even though I assumed she didn’t because her brother doesn’t. She doesn’t like to build with blocks, but loves to clang them together to make songs. She’s creative and artistic, loves making people laugh and smile. She isn’t afraid to be silly. She has a need to be the center of attention and won’t hesitate to get yours, whether in a good or bad way. She is a performer at heart.
My son on the other hand thinks like his father. An engineer in the making. He is extremely kind hearted and just as stubborn. I’ve learned that he has a way with words, using phrases like “quite interesting”, “as well”, and “I noticed”. Not bad for a 4 year old. Also that he loves books and has an eagerness to learn. I was reading and he asked me about my book, what is it about? Who wrote it? Can you read it aloud? He is somewhat of a perfectionist, getting frustrated when he cannot do things right (he’s vocal about it too) but isn’t afraid to ask for help.
Parenting is hard. Especially for someone who has had previous mental health issues. It is one of the most mentally taxing things you can do, raising or working with children. Kids can be pretty thankless which can be hurtful if you allow it.
The most important thing I’ve learned, is that my thanks does not come from my kids. My thanks comes from God in the form of learning the character, personality and potential of my children. I have the opportunity to nurture their passions and give them a chance that their dad and I never got. This, in its own right, is a gift.