A lot of the conversations that I have with my kids go something like this:
Me, “Oh dear darling sweet child of mine, how in the heck have you gotten so tall and long limbed? We all know that it’s definitely not all the vegetables you’re not eating. Can we just quickly agree that you’ll stop growing right now? Maybe I’ll put a couple of bricks on your head and you’ll stay little? Maybe I’ll do a little magic dance and turn you back into a cuddly baby again!”
Kyla, “I don’t think it’s going to work.”
Riya, “No Mommy, don’t be silly.”
Knox, “NO! I going to eat all my vegetables and I go to grow big like a giant! Den I will be bigger dan you! Den I will pick YOU up!”
I’ll then go on to sweep them up into my arms and cradle them like I did all those many nights when they were babies – heads resting on my shoulder and the rest of their tiny little bodies snuggled up against me as we rocked the night away, praying for sleep to knock them out.
Except they don’t fit quite so nicely any more, their heads may rest on my shoulder but all the rest of their limbs are spilling out of my arms on all sides. In fact, getting them to stay in my arms for more than a couple of seconds without trying to get away is becoming increasingly hard. But I’m not one to step away from a challenge, oh no, I catch those little buggers and give them squeezes as regularly as I can. Despite occasionally being punched in the face.
All things considered, I’ve known that these moments were going to go fast and for a long time I sometimes wished they would go faster (think 2 am wake up, 2.15 wake up, 2.45 wake up – you get the idea). But now it’s just so darn “easy” that I want to go back to the hard times and relive them, but this time with the knowledge that it will all turn out OK and that I will eventually be able to sleep through the night again. I’d take the chance to really take in those sleepy snuggles or watching them try out a new food or say new words in funny ways.
This is just so evident to me when I look at my almost 7 year old. How is she almost 7? Even if we weren’t tracking her age by birthdays I’d still know that she is getting older. The way she’s starting to think about things now, her reactions, her wit and general good temperament. The way she gets ready to go out – kitted out with her bag, a scarf, perfume, an assortment of necklaces and bracelets. It’s too darn cute.
I’ve heard it said that you enjoy parenting in stages. Like for example, I love being a newborn Mom. I don’t know what it is about it, but despite the tiredness, the crazy hormones and all the rest of it, I really really enjoy it. The weird 9-12 month “wanting to do things but not being able to” is easily my worst slot, ugh. More tiring for me than a newborn. But I think I might really enjoy being a tween Mom. They get to have real chats with you about real things now, more than just the superficial “it was fine”. Now I get great meaty conversations with her when we take the time to sit down together.
I can already imagine us sitting around the table drinking a cup of something hot, talking about her new crush and laughing about what her friends did at school that day. We’ve always been big on our home being the safe haven for our kids, a place that they’ll want to bring their friends home to to hang out. But more than that, I want to be there for them to confide in, to chat to about the hard stuff that life brings their way at all the stages. The thing that I’ve realised though, although probably quite obvious, is that if I don’t start encouraging this behaviour now, we’ll never be sitting around chatting about her boyfriend later (you know when she is like 30 and allowed to date).
It really starts now. Spending one on one time with them is also so important and something I don’t do nearly enough of at the moment. Also, encouraging openness, laughing together, admitting faults, sharing stories of our days too – all of this is going to help to make that relationship grow into one where she’ll be comfortable telling me things that are bugging her later on.
Here’s hoping that I’ll get it right from here on out.