My son’s birthday was last week. The youngest in our little five-member family, Aiden, is now five. The past week has flown by so fast. The five years have flown by so fast.
Sometimes I wish that I had made note of every special moment. Somehow recorded it or remembered it. They go by so fast and too often pass into that place that seems almost oblivion (but perhaps is kept somewhere … somehow … by Someone).
But I remember a few, and they bring a smile to my face when I think of them.
My son running up to me as I got out of the car last Tuesday – his birthday. “Mom, mom!” His excited shout, his joyful face.
“What?” Waiting to hear what interesting thing he’d been doing with daddy while I was at college.
“I’m five years old now!” he exclaims wrapping his little arms around my waist and squeezing tight. I know he’s five. I’ve been helping him count down the days for the past month or so every time he’s asked, “How many days is it until my birthday?”
Kind of like I did five years ago waiting for him to arrive on the scene, which he did after only five hours of labor. As with everything else in my little boy’s life and schedule, I guess he didn’t want it to last too long because he gets bored quickly. I can picture him in my tummy. Okay, enough of those squeezy contraction things. Let’s get this show on the road. I definitely didn’t mind him hurrying things along that time.
Another snapshot highlight of the past week occurred a couple nights ago. It was past “lights out” time. And the boys still had the lights on. I peeked into the room, ready to help them turn off the light and get into bed (little boys seem to forget sometimes). And Aiden was sitting next to his big brother, Allen, my seven year old who would opt for drawing over reading any day. But he sat next to Aiden and read him every page of a storybook. I kept the light on for a few more minutes.
Then there was Saturday, when we celebrated Aiden’s birthday. I’m always nervous about parties, especially hosting them. As simple as I usually keep them, there is always the unknowable factor of children; who knows when and how hurt feelings or frustration will develop, and why it seems to increase exponentially with each kid added to the mix? Although there were a couple huffy moments and a squabble or two on the side, for the most part the kids got along great and had a blast. I think the big kids (aka adults) had fun too.
And the next evening, Aiden handing his new Hot Wheels hovercraft and tow truck to his little cousin, telling her, “You can keep this with you for the night.” I had to do a double take. Did my son just share his new birthday toy with someone else? Maybe those repeated pep talks about the joy of sharing (that I and my husband have been giving him half of his life) are finally getting through!
Every smile is a highlight. Every hug. Every question that exposes a mind thinking and feeling and growing. Yes, the challenging moments definitely exist and at times can seem like all there is. But I guess it depends on what we, as parents, focus on. Perhaps seeing my son turning five and growing up so fast has caused me to try to focus more on the good, the brighter points, during the past week.
But if so, I hope to make it somewhat of a habit.
What methods work for you in recording the high points of parenting? (One friend of mine posts all her fun parenting highlights on Facebook and that’s her way of keeping a record.) Do you have any tips on focusing on “the brighter points” of parenting and keeping a positive perspective in spite of the tougher moments of being a mother or father? Would love to hear from you in the comments below or on our Facebook page!
On my 22nd birthday, I was 8 1/2 months pregnant, huge, not sure how ready I was to become a mother. Two weeks later, Jessica was born, and my life was never the same again.
On my 24th birthday, I had a nine-day-old son in my arms when my friends sang “Happy Birthday.” Allen had actually been due on my birthday, but came early. Thoughtful as always, I supposed he didn’t want me to miss my own party by being in labor.
On my 26th birthday, I had recently discovered I was pregnant with baby number three. Aiden arrived on March 25th, at 4:55 in the morning, and has loved waking us up early ever since.
It’s my 31st birthday today, my ninth birthday as a mother, and although it might not be as “auspicious” a number as ten, I wanted to share nine things I’ve learned about parenting, nine lessons that motherhood has taught me.
1. I’ll never be a perfect mom.
When I was little I loved the movie Milo and Otis, about an orange kitten who got lost and his best friend, the pug-nosed puppy, that searched until he found him. The movie begins in the hayloft, where Milo, the kitten, is just born. The narrator states that the mother kitten, who just had her first litter, vowed she would never raise her voice or lose her temper. Ten seconds later, she is shouting at Milo, who is already heading toward the edge of the hayloft.
Kids aren’t static creations. They are dynamic (sometimes very dynamic) — always thinking, moving, changing, learning, and growing. And so are we, as parents.
2. I won’t always remember to pray for my kids.
I’ve read in a fair few parenting books that, yes, we’ll make mistakes, but at least we can always pray for them every day of their lives. Another miserable fail, was my thought about that. I do pray for my children, as often as I remember, but sometimes I forget. Sometimes I go through a phase where I wake up early every morning and read a great book on parenting and pray for my kids before they’re even awake; other mornings I get dragged out of bed by my kids wishing for a few more moments of rest.
Somehow I don’t think God is saying, “Well, since she hasn’t prayed for her children consistently every day of their lives, I’ll simply have to curse them and their children’s children from this time forth and even forevermore.” That’s not the way it works.
3. I might not judge rightly in some situations.
Before I became a mom, I vowed that when my kids fought, I would always listen carefully to both sides and make a patient and prayerful decision on the matter. I do that … sometimes. But sometimes I don’t, and I’ll just do whatever makes the arguing stop most quickly, even if it’s not the fairest judgment.
I’m not as wise as Solomon, nor am I as patient as Job. I’m a mom, but I do think my kids will survive.
4. Saying sorry is a good thing.
I won’t always do or say the best thing in any given situation, and when I mess up with my kids, apologizing works wonders. Some of the sweetest or and most heartwarming times with my kids have happened after I just said, “I’m sorry. I should have been more patient,” or “I should have let you finish what you were saying.”
And there is nothing like hearing a four-year-old say, “I forgive you mommy.”
5. Kids can work.
I’m generally the type of person who likes to get a job done on my own. I know how I want it done, and I can do it pretty quickly. But working side by side with my kids, and teaching them how to do a job not only lightens my workload when they learn to do it themselves, but it builds their confidence and skills like nothing else can.
Lately I’ve let my older two children choose the cleanup jobs they want to do, and have expected them to follow through, and they’ve done great. I can’t exactly retire from housecleaning just yet, but they’re on their way, and it feels good not to do everything “All by myself.”
6. There’s never a bad time to tell a child, “I love you.”
My son was sitting at the table doing artwork and I told him I loved him. He looked up and asked, “Where are you going?” I suddenly felt guilty; do I really tell my children I love them that infrequently?
I still don’t say it as often as I should … but I’m working on it.
7. Kids need quiet time too.
My youngest child is the most energetic of the three … by far. He’ll jump from activity to activity and is a people-person; he loves it when I’m jumping from activity to activity with him. Unfortunately, jumping became out of character for me a long time ago. One day I was tired and didn’t know how I would keep up with his amazing energy. We have a hammock on our back patio and he wanted to play in the backyard, so I reclined on the hammock. He clambered up next to me and was still, listening, for nearly half an hour. He talked a little bit – about the things we can hear when it’s quiet.
Times of peace and quiet, stillness and listening, are growing rarer in this world of multimedia and multitasking. Learning to be still is an art, one that even as adults we often overlook. But it’s something that cultivates peace, reflection, and calmness … even in children.
8. Things never go exactly as planned.
Last year, my daughter was turning eight. I knew the perfect gift for her, a hamster. Once my husband was convinced, we bought a cage and a hamster and brought them both home the evening before her birthday. We surprised her with it that evening, and she was so thrilled. Early the next morning, before the birthday girl woke up, I checked on the hamster. It hadn’t survived the night. Animals will die. We put our cat to sleep on my ninth birthday. But I didn’t want it to happen on her birthday, when she had only just gotten what she called, “The best birthday present ever.” I placed it in a box and told the kids it wasn’t feeling well and needed its rest. My husband picked up another hamster on his way home from work, with similar markings. Buttercup the Hamster has been with us for nearly a year now.
Jessica’s ninth birthday is coming up and she’s asking for a dog. I think we’ll wait on that.
9. Being a parent is an awesome privilege.
I’m playing a part in raising immortal souls, little people who will grow up to be big people, each one created in the image of God, with a unique purpose and destiny. I can help them along that path by reinforcing to them every day how unique and special they are, and cultivating their God-given interests and talents.
I don’t know the future, or what is in store for my children. But I know that for this little while, I have been blessed to love, nurture, teach, and be a mother to three amazing, eternal souls. The best gifts ever.