It may come as a surprise that this year has been one of the hardest years of parenting for me. In some ways I assumed this year would be easier because Esther would be at Kindy and I’d only have Maggie and Phoebe at home. But it can be hard keeping a 1 year old and 2 year old entertained.
Phoebe gets into everything and Maggie likes to destroy everything. Typical toddler behavior.
While I’m crafting with Maggie and Esther (on the days she’s not at Kindy) I set up an obstacle course of sorts with toys for Phoebe to play with. The morning always ends in mess and screaming because Phoebe gets a hold of the glue and Maggie gets upset, or Phoebe takes Maggie’s favourite Barbie and snatches it from her and Phoebe screams in protest.
Just a typical day with little people I guess. But it can sometimes be unrelenting. The fighting and screaming and eye rolls have often left me exhausted by the afternoon and when Jacob walks through the door I sigh with relief that I have backup.
Through the mess and the attitude, through the tears and the screams, I stop to find my sweet spot in parenting.
That sweet spot of seeing my girls play nicely together or when they remember to say please and thank you. My girls aren’t bad kids. But they sure know how to test me and my patience.
And patience is what is most important in these early years as my girls grow and learn to control their emotions. Sometimes the to do list can overwhelm my brain that I forget to stop and take in the sweet moments of parenting.
Take for example last week when I took all three girls grocery shopping with me. I’ve reverted to doing my shopping back in the store because 1. It gives the girls an outing and something to do and 2. I’m not great at organizing shopping delivery online. I always leave it to the last minute which means all the available delivery options are filled the next day. Right when we’ve run out of bread and can’t do for a day longer.
I don’t mind taking the girls shopping with me. They are a great help picking apples and tomatoes and counting bananas. They are also cunning and have snuck the odd pack of lamingtons or bag of lollies in the trolley. How I don’t see it on the conveyor belt when I unload the trolley, I’m not sure. Esther has obviously got it down to a fine art.
Anyway, last week before we even walked into the shops I spotted a 10 cent coin in the carpark and got Esther to pick it up. I told her she could put it in her piggy bank when she got home.
Of course Maggie was upset that she didn’t have a coin so Esther gave it to Maggie to keep the peace. She apparently only likes gold coins anyway. Smart kid.
We went about our way through the aisles and when we got to the check out, I started to unload the trolley. The checkout lady was talking to Esther and Maggie. Maggie kept jumping up and down and trying to put her hand over the conveyor belt. I was too busy feeding the belt with our groceries to take notice of what Maggie was doing. Maggie was insistent and said three times ‘I can’t reach. I can’t reach. I can’t reach Mummy.’
I looked at Maggie and told her ‘You don’t have to reach Maggie. Mummy is putting the groceries up here.’
‘But mummy I can’t reach’ and she continue to jump and strain over the conveyor belt. The checkout lady stopped scanning my groceries to understand why Maggie was saying she couldn’t reach and then it dawned on us both at the same time. Maggie was upset she couldn’t reach across the conveyor belt to put her money in the donation box for Blind Dogs Australia.
The checkout lady responded, ‘Well aren’t you a generous and clever girl, wanting to give your money away. Well done mummy for bringing up such a sweet girl.’
I had to blink back my tears and picked Maggie up so she could drop the 10 cents into the donation box.
And then without a second glance she went to put her face up close to the mirror that sits at the end of the check-out and blew a raspberry, thinking nothing of what she had just done.
I could have missed that sweet spot had I continued to ignore Maggie as I unloaded the trolley.
The sweet spots of parenting are all around us. We just have to choose to stop and listen. And bottle memories like these when the sweet spots are hard to find.
How do you find your sweet spot in parenting? What have your kids done lately that have made you blink back tears (in a good way)?