The Day I Became a Mom
I can hear my kids in the background, playing in their rooms. One of them is singing. One of them is making sword-fight sounds. The other is giving a running dialogue of whatever it is they are playing. Lately it’s been castles and knights and rescues from evil lords.
Now they’re discussing plot and characters. It’s getting a little heated. The older two are siding on an issue they consider important. That the Trio Blocks and Cars should only be able to shoot arrows. Their game has expanded beyond the Stuffed Animals. I’m also hearing reference to Littlest Pet Shop. Looks like all their toys have joined the game. It must be a big one.
My first thoughts rush to the evening, family coming over for cake and ice cream. Are the kids making a mess in their rooms? Am I going to need to give them a simple reminder about cleaning up? Or will I need to get more involved? Then I conclude, “They’re kids. It’s Jessica’s birthday. Let them have fun.”
I glance over at the table, which I still haven’t cleaned up after our special breakfast of waffles, whipped cream, strawberries, and hot chocolate. I need to do that. Soon.
My youngest, Aiden, runs into the family room, telling me that his character has a magic sword, and that he is king of the Trio Blocks. The other two run in after him. “Did you hypnotize Jewel?” The unicorn stuffed animal.
“Of course,” he answers.
The discussion devolves into an argument and Aiden stomps off, stating in no uncertain terms that he is not interested in playing anymore. Jessica and Allen explain that he is trying to make up rules that are ruining the game.
I recall just the two of them playing, four or five years ago, before Aiden was old enough to join them. Jessica always made the rules: “Let’s do this.” Allen always went along with them: “Okay.” When Aiden entered the mix, their creative play entered a whole new level. The “rules” are rarely easy to determine. And according to the older two, “Aiden always wants his cars to join the games, and cars don’t belong in every game.”
I step in sometimes, to ask them to work it out or do something else until they have worked it out. I might give a suggestion or two in how they can come to a positive conclusion, but I try to let them come up with solutions.
On good days.
On rough days, when I’m at my computer dealing with a deadline, and their noise level rises a few notches, and then arrives clambering in the family room with sword fights or “that’s not fair” or “Mommy, he hid my favorite car,” I have only one solution.
Everyone. Quiet. That’s enough.
Nearly an hour has passed since I started this post. They’re still playing in the back room. I’ve gotten up a couple times to work out issues. I hear the decibels scaling up again and I know I need to finish this blog post. I’ve got a cake to bake. A house to clean. Homework to finish. Work to complete. Deadlines to meet. A phrase comes to mind, “These things you will always have with you.” And I will.
Plus, I’m a mom. Three thousand, six hundred and fifty days down, countless more to go. Because of the seemingly never-ending aspect of motherhood, it’s something easy to relegate to a lower rung on the ladder of priorities. My kids will always be there. Always be kids. The sounds of their playing will always rise from another room while I work.
But they won’t always be there. They won’t always be kids. My daughter is ten today. She does her own laundry (and sometimes folds it). I no longer have to remind her to take a shower (well, most of the time). I can give her a job to do and know that she will do it thoroughly (if she remembers to do it).
Children grow up so fast. The dynamics of parenthood changes so quickly, often without our noticing it. We have to make a conscious decision to go through our days with our eyes open, with our ears keenly listening. Because each day our children will say something we might never hear again. That we might never hear at all if we are not listening.
No matter how many days we’ve been parents, or how many days we have to go, how many mistakes we have made in our parenting and how many mistakes we will undoubtedly make in the days to come, today is the day to be the best parent possible. To listen to our kids. To learn right alongside them. And to love them.
I’ve been a mother for 3,650 days, give or take a few. My daughter is ten today. And my children are the most precious gift I’ve been given. The most cherished characters in the story of my life.
Happy birthday, Jessica Rose! Many happy returns of the day. The day I became a mom.