Earlier this week, while dropping Miles off at school, I noticed a dad who completed his entire arrival-drop off-departure while on his cell phone (obviously a “business” call). I’d venture to guess that his son is about three years old. He held his dad’s hand, struggled to keep up with his fast paced walking, and continued smiling while looking up at his dad. His dad never once looked down to meet his son’s gaze and return the smile. He shuffled him through his classroom door and waved goodbye, without a hug, without a kiss, without saying, “I love you.”
His son didn’t seem fazed, and maybe he’s accustomed to hurried mornings, but his father’s actions – or lack thereof – bothered me, deeply. Am I more emotional now that we have Miles? Most certainly. There are situations and occurrences we witnessed in our childless life that I didn’t think twice about; now, however, it’s a different story.
Before we had Miles, I would always wonder how parents handle certain inevitable situations that I may have once considered “bad behavior.” Things like running up and down the aisles in Publix, throwing loaves of bread. Or taking an entire plate of spaghetti and turning it upside down on the table, while out to eat at a restaurant. Or talking too loudly during church. I have witnessed parents discipline in ways that caused me to cringe, and I have witnessed parents portray an obliviousness that left me confused. And before we had Miles, I wouldn’t have noticed a parent rushing their child to daycare, school, soccer practice, or through a grocery store. Kids are slow, right? Seemed normal to urge them along.
Then, we became parents.
I am sure I’ve said many, many times before (and will continue to repeat) that once we had Miles, life as we knew it changed. Of course there were moments of struggle (new parents are really clueless those first few weeks…) but those are absolute blips on the radar in comparison to the overwhelming love, joy, happiness and general awesomeness we experience on a daily basis. Not a moment goes by that I don’t look at that kid and think to myself, “My God, we are blessed.” He is the sun rising and the moon setting in our days.
As children get older, they develop their own personalities. Becoming their own person brings new behaviors; some are sweet, some are funny, and some are just whaa? moments. And many, many moments will mimic situations I witnessed before becoming a parent. I have a different perspective because now, as a mom, I get it.
Those parents I previously thought were oblivious to their children’s behavior really weren’t (well, not all of them). I know this because I am not an oblivious parent. I am fully aware that Miles is “singing” along during the offertory at church. I know that the instant I give him his spoon to “feed” himself, he’s going to fling zucchini at the cat and stick the spoon up his nose. There is no trip to Publix that doesn’t end with a toy “dropped” on every aisle, and extra grocery items in the buggy that I’m certain I didn’t have on the list. Know what? That’s okay. Know why? He’s a baby, bordering on toddler, and these are just the things they do. He is full of curiosity and wonder (also, feistiness) which we find charming and hilarious, all at the same time. Miles is free to be Miles, even if it means blowing raspberries at strangers in Target.
We have chosen to let Miles experience life at full sprint…what better way for him to learn? We have chosen to laugh at the moments that may cause other folks to just cringe. Just a couple weeks ago, Evan was getting Miles ready for bath time (we call this “nakey baby time” in our house). After the usual nakey baby song and dance, Evan picked Miles up off the changing table and proceeded to make his way to the bathroom. It was in that instant that I saw it…poop. Poop coming out of Miles’ tush, onto the changing table, onto the floor and onto Evan. Miles was flapping and smiling and waving, per the usual. My eyes met Evan’s, and we froze…then, we erupted into laughter. You cannot fully comprehend the humor in poop until you have children. Life is hysterical.
Rather than become exasperated, we find the joy and humor and absolute silliness that we have in our lives now. How can I look at that spaghetti smeared face, dumping his sippy cup onto the dining room floor, and not become filled with love and gratitude?
As working parents, life gets busy. Very busy. Perhaps “busy” is an understatement for the hurricane of work-errands-chores-parenting that must take place on a daily basis. But what I’ve learned is that you’re only as busy as you choose to be in that moment. Sure, there’s laundry I need to fold and the dishwasher needs to be unloaded, but I’m going to push those chores off until after Miles hits the hay, because stacking rings and reading books is so much more fun. And I’m sure you’d be surprised to know that most days of the week, I’m running late for work, but that doesn’t stop me from spending those extra ten minutes with Miles at school, watching him play with the other kids and giving him oodles of hugs and kisses before I head out the door.
You are never, ever too busy to stop for a moment and cherish your children.
We have chosen to never let “life” interfere with our blessings. There are many evenings we’re tired (or is it exhausted?) but, truth be told, it’s the best kind of tired. Feeling a wave of exhaustion hit as soon as I close the nursery door at 8pm is just the result of us living the best moments of our day to the fullest extent possible.
Miles is only little for a short while; soon we’ll have a toddler, then a preschooler, then an actual kid, followed by a preteen and (shudder) a teenager. Before we realize it, Miles will be in college. Miles will be getting married (after she passes my “marriage qualifications exam”). Miles will be starting his own family.
I never, ever want to miss a single smile, hug, kiss, smile, or belly laugh. I want to be present for each and every moment that I possibly can. And I want him to have complete joy in being little, regardless of how messy or loud that joy can be. He is only little once.
I came across this print on Etsy the other day, and found it perfectly encompassed the way we have chosen to parent:
“You will never have this day with your children again. Tomorrow they will be a little older than they were today. This day is a gift. Just breathe, notice, study their faces and little feet. Pay attention. Relish the charms of the present. Enjoy today, it will be over before you know it. Let them be little.”