Sitting with one of my long time friends, she began talking about parenting and her two little ones. She has a two and a half-year old and a ten month old. “Does it get easier?” she asked. She asked this and I reflected back to the time my first child was placed in my arms. It was so foreign to me and the years seemed like they would never pass. Becoming a parent was a change to me and so was my life. There are some that it seems motherhood and parenting comes natural, for me, it was a bit different. Perhaps, because I never paused to think about my life with kiddos? I am not sure. Though as I thought about it in those brief moments as my friend was waiting for an answer and I saw my eight and a half-year old playing for the most part independently and being okay doing that, my answer to her was yes, it does get easier in some ways. As children start growing you see their inclination to want to grow up and it’s a proud moment and a sad one too. Dependence of children when they are young can be so very draining on a parent. I have three children, each about three years apart, so I never encountered children that are really close together in age. I can see how that could be a bit more challenging. Some days as parents we feel as if we are being pulled in so many directions. Fatigue and tiredness set in and any kind of break is welcome and needed. It especially becomes a little more difficult when there is a lack of family support or limited help around. Not that having some else take care of your kids is what you are looking for, just a break, a moment to breathe, to regroup is a great gift. As a parent of young children, from ages 0-5, some of the things I found to be helpful during those “Does it get any easier” days:
- Get your kid or kids outside (summer is great for this of course but winter works too! Kids love the snow!)
- Read books for ideas on how to communicate with your little one. A couple of my favorite books are, Happiest Toddler on the Block and Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp
- Get the craft materials out. Kids love to get messy.
- Bubbles, kids love bubbles
- Have fun with them and give them structure. Visit my Build ME Blocks website for ideas.
What do you think? Does parenting get any easier as kids get older or does it just change?
Sitting there at the edge of the bed as my three-year old is falling asleep for nap time, I glance to the closet and see my nine-year old’s old gym shoes, sitting there, still, nothing happening. Looking at them, I think of the life my son gives to this object, he runs, he jumps, he ties them. He has used them, they have holes. He is so hard on his shoes! I can hardly believe it. Scanning the objects around me, the books, the beds, the blankets,etc. Amazing the life we bring to them. Amazing the memories we keep from them. His sweater, I take it down, it is blue, zips up in the front and I can picture him as a three-year old. Emotional, tears form and I think he will never be three again. Continue with the closet clean out, I am about to give this simple sweater away, no, I am going to keep it for 30 more years. His son will wear it. Maybe. Years ago before having children, I came home from work, my husband was traveling, alone, I was sitting on the couch, staring at the blank t.v. and thought how we give so many inanimate objects life. Without our existence they mean nothing. They are things, they sit, they don’t move. We move, we live, we give life. Objects they help us form memories, feelings, thoughts. My mind, returning to his athletic shoes, grateful they were sitting there and grateful for the journey of an inanimate object.
Endurance. “With a little endurance, you will make it through.” A phrase I have heard many times. I agree, put your best foot forward and plow through the deep waters of whichever circumstance may be weighing heavily at the time. Though today, I was given a different perspective on enduring. Often times when I think of endurance, I think, wow, I must complete this whole big challenge and come through it with flying colors and feel a deep sense of happiness at the end–after I have endured for so long. Enduring, It can be such a cumbersome world that can suck the energy from you along with the fun and enjoyment of life. When I hear the word endure, I can feel my anxiety and panic heighten, knowing I am in for the long haul and that even at the end of it all, I have found other things that need my endurance too. This endurance thing is a lifelong battle it seems. And, a dreaded phrase most of the time. Though, today, today, I was enlightened, I was relieved of my imperfection and the necessity of battling endurance. Today, I have been able to take the word endure and see the positive, happy side of the most dark word somedays. Today, I learned that enduring can be for a few seconds, for an hour, for a day, for a week. It can be adjusted to you and the amount of energy you have to get through the rough waters of life. Much of the time when big goals are holding our for achievement, they become a drag, boring to do and the end gratification seems so far off. With this new view on this word, these achievements seem attainable. Getting through a hectic day with kids, pressing financial burdens, the idea of eating healthy every single day to achieve a fitness goal, health challenges, emotional challenges, spiritual challenges. Today, I learned to endure is adjustable to how much you can handle and take. It is there to nudge along, for encouragement and to realize, yes life is achievable.
Jack’s Five and Ten, Grape and Orange Popsicles and 1 cent fortune gum—the best gum—memories of the past but history of the future. Instead of sitting in traffic on the Kennedy Expressway, we decide to take Cumberland to get us into the city. We hit the city and the neighborhood, streets and areas become familiar. 2543 N. Kilbourn, we are by the first house I remember as a kid. It’s actually and apartment. My parent’s help manage it and took care of the tenants. It is where my sister and I ate our neighbor’s fundraiser Tootsie roll tubes. They looked so inviting in those tubes with the slots at top. Mom was not impressed. “I am going to have to pay for all of those.” Her words still clear nearly 30 years later. I thought to myself, we ate almost all of them. “Oh no!” The backyard comes into view and I remember my childhood play: “I knew a senorita with diamonds in her hair,” my favorite black shoes, the tons of stairs that led down into the back common yard. The garage, the ally. We continue on, “that is the high school you would have gone to if we didn’t move.” Mom says. Kelvyn Park we come upon next. Sprinklers, Metal swing horses—not sure if they were trying to eliminate kids because these swings though fun were deadly! 2825 N. Kenneth, my favorite house. My Mom loved this house. Creativity would sneak in on cold days—tape recording my favorite songs of my favorite station B96. Snowy days Barbies would visit Alaska right out the window of my bedroom. Down the street childhood memories return like the sun on a bright day: neighbors, tragedies, kids and kid stuff. At the stop sign we turn left, Barry Elementary, the grammar school I attended until 6th grade. “Look,” I say to my kids—“that is my grammar school.” “That looks creepy,” they say. I laugh, “you should see the inside.” Past the ally my mom would walk me through when I called home from the office, sick for the 5th time that week. I am lucky she did not follow the “Boy who cried wolf” fable. Teacher problems, I wasn’t really sick. Being a kid seems like a different world as my mind travels back to my childhood. Looking back that different world was forming much of who I am today. Life lessons were learned, fears faced—conquered and not, consequences paid, milestones met. “Mom, I have to pee,” my three-year old bursts out as we are driving. Where will we stop, the neighborhood has changed so much since my childhood, we found a restaurant behind my grammar school. I had not walked near that school in years. A zap, the memories. My kids, our kids, they are in the midst of their childhood. Inventions, technology has increased the speed of life. That is my philosophy anyway. Kids, they are so eager to grow up faster. I am old school I suppose, I say be a kid, cherish your childhood, it only lasts just a short while and “the little years pass so fast.” These are famous words, I hear them all the time. I have no rebuke. I am seeing my kids grow before my eyes.
My heart and prayers go out to those kids whose childhood is less than a childhood in any way. I know that in certain circumstances…childhood can be less than optimal.
Much of the time I don’t recall the activities I did as a child with my parents. There are pieces here and there and events that stand out in my mind. I can’t remember a lot of the time I spent with my parents, only what they share with me. A spontaneous trip to Ikea today, I asked the kids if they wanted to go and they were pretty excited about the idea. There is a play area for the kids and it gets us out of the house for a little. I wanted to get some art organizing supplies, to encourage more art and creativity vs. the perfected art of sitting in front of the tv or other screen. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and all of its perks and forms of communication technology provides, just I am a big fan of having the kids still use their brilliant minds that they have so much room to create things in. Returning to my original thought, I turned to my kids as we entered the Ikea parking lot and expressed to them that I don’t know if I will remember the exact moment we were in the car together at Ikea or if they would remember this moment either, though I wanted them to know that I love them. It is crazy sometimes how childhood can seem like such a different life. A different lifetime from long ago, a make-believe world, a land of imagination. When they look back on events of their lives, I hope the can remember my simple message to them, I love them and I am so grateful to have the time to spend with them. Especially, in these days of hustle, bustle and time that seems to pass so quickly. I want my kids to know I love them.
Encouraging my kids, helping them to learn to believe in themselves and face their challenges has been something I enjoy helping my children do. There will be times I tell my kids, ages eight and five that I am working on something, trying to be better at something– I have set a goal for myself. It amazes me that when I let them know this, how encouraging they are. If they see me slip or fall off track, they like to help me get back on track. It is nice having support come from my kids and in turn, I know that they are able to see that there is reason to work toward something, there are reasons to set goals. They can also see there are times that I do fall off track and that it helps to have reminders–like their little voices–to get back on track and keep on going. I enjoy knowing that my children learn that there is great achievement in goals and that their encouragement plays a role in my achievements.
Walking to the park, renting a video, a bus ride to the mall on a rainy day. I loved spending time with my Mom as a kid. I enjoyed being at her side and the security of knowing that she was there and that she took time with myself and my brothers and sister. The other day, I remembered the trips we used to take as kids and perhaps it was nostalgia for my earlier years but I had the deep desire to spend time with my kids and be with them. In the world today, it is so easy to get caught up in the have to’s of everyday. I find myself doing it quite often. I have to stop myself and be reminded they (my kids) will only be little for so long. It is hard to remember that when in the mist of dirty dishes, messy floors and dirty laundry galore. It may not be possible to always make the time though when it really feels inspired, I say go for it. Even on those tough days. This time we went to the zoo. We had fun, we walked, we saw the animals, we went into the reptile house. I found out my daughter loves snakes. Who would have thought? They really gross me out. We had fun watching the sea lions. And my youngest was amazed with the trees and rocks. I am glad for the moment of childhood reminiscence and the time it gave me with my kids, to build theirs and my memories.