Moments Matter

I decided to change things up this week and walk with Ezra to school in the mornings, then come back home and get ready and go to work. If I’ve arranged for our gardener to walk down and get him in the afternoon when he finishes it means I don’t really need to be at the office at 8am which is what happens when I drive him and go straight into work like I normally do. I thought, this way I get 30 min of extra walking in total and also some special time with Ezra, just me and him which doesn’t happen too much. Let me tell you – it was a great way to start my Monday morning. The fresh air was refreshing and chatting with my little man was so much fun. He has endless questions – to which I don’t always have the answers, but I try. Everything is a competition with Ezra, so it’s – how big he is, how far he can jump, how fast he can walk, etc. It’s so fun watching him grow into this sweet, sensitive, funny little boy. He’s caring and is easily concerned about others. He’s still a little bit shy and reserved while at the same time fiercely competitive, like his Daddy. He’s my beautiful first-born who is not-so-little anymore.

It dawned on me again; time is so precious. He’s growing so fast. Moments mean everything. It hardly takes any effort on my part to decide to take an extra 30 minutes and walk with him to school each day, but I’m sure it’s something he will remember. Time alone with Mommy. I don’t want to overlook the seemingly small moments. Life is a sum of all these small moments – but when added together over time they are what make life beautiful and memorable. I want to take the time. I don’t want to get so caught up in the disease of being busy that I miss these moments. Moments, I’m realising more and more – are everything. Taking some extra one-on-one time with my boy each morning might not seem like anything amazing – but to him it is. It almost makes me cry when I think about how excited he was when I told him I was walking with him to school this morning.  I thought, I need to do more of this. This is the stuff that matters.  He won’t be small for long. In a few years he might not want to walk anywhere with me! 😉 So I better store up as many moments together as I can.

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It’s the start of another new week – a fresh slate – a blank canvas. I know there is a lot to do; there always is.  Believe me, my to do list is never ending, but taking time out for a few moments is worth it. Taking time for relationships – to be with people – whether it be family or friends – is important. All the other stuff you “have” to do will still be there; it’s not going anywhere…but the people in your life are – time is always moving; people are moving and growing and changing.  Taking the time and creating memories is always worth it. I challenge you to take some time this week. Don’t let moments pass. Linger a little longer, laugh a little harder, enjoy just ‘being’ together with those you love. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed and even more than that – I’m sure some of those small moments will be the highlights of your week. Moments matter.

Happy memory making!

Entering Toddler-dom … Again

I can’t really say I have a toddler and a baby anymore. I have a kid and a toddler now. They’re growing up faster than I can handle. Days are just flying by – every day they can do something new. They’re both learning two languages – English and Swahili and nearly every day at least one of them says something I had no idea they knew how to say. It’s crazy and mind-blowing. I can hardly deal with the fact that I have a KID now! Not a toddler anymore …he’s almost 4 and a half and starts school in just over a month! 😦 And I’m quickly realising I don’t have a baby anymore in my youngest…it’s happening – he’s entering toddler-dom.

Toddlers are very interesting little people. Personalities are forming, likes and dislikes are very apparent (they make sure you know), and they’re in discovery mode ALL. THE. TIME. They want their little (or loud) voices to be heard all the time, even if they can’t really say much yet – you should be able to understand what they want from various whines and grunts and pointing. It’s a difficult thing I would think – knowing what you want but not being able to make those crazy adults in your life understand. At this point the temper tantrums make their entrance. Small at first – a single scream of frustration but before you know it your toddler is lying on the floor screaming uncontrollably. They don’t want to be pick up but don’t you dare just leave them there on the ground! All of this because you took them off their older brother’s bicycle which they can’t ride anyways. Oh the joys. The parenting joys. It’s all part of the ride. These moments are when you need to say to yourself:

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This too shall pass – faster than you could ever imagine. I remember my now-kid throwing temper tantrums – and while he still does have the odd break down (he’s only four) for the most part he’s outgrown that phase (and entered the constant question asking phase). It goes by too fast. Period. That’s what I try to remind myself when my new toddler is having a freak out of epic proportions on my kitchen floor. Soon he’ll be running off to school with his big bro and I’ll be the one crying in my empty, quiet kitchen.

Life Through the Eyes of My Four Year Old

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Sometimes I like to stop and think about life as my kids see it. To put myself into their little shoes for a few moments and look around me. It’s often times very different from the way I see the world as a “grown-up.” (Although I guess as a grown-up I’m supposed to call myself an Adult, oops). It’s a good exercise to do once in a while – it makes you appreciate the “little” things.

It’s easy as an adult to get busy and caught up with everything and miss out on special moments. You’re too busy working, or worrying about the bills, or you’re just so tired you can’t really think straight. But every once and while I try to slow down – even if it’s just for a few minutes and I try to think like my kids. To see the world through their eyes. When I think of how my four year old sees the world, I realise sometimes I’m missing the point.

To him, everything is still new and exciting. It’s all an adventure waiting to happen – there’s always something to discover, to explore and to learn. He doesn’t get bored. Have you ever noticed that? Toddlers and young children don’t really ever get bored. They find something to do; to amuse themselves. Their curiosity fuels them and so they can’t be bored or lack something to do. Even if it’s playing with sticks and grass outside – it’s discovery and imagination time – there’s no boredom.

My four year old is not afraid to ask questions. In fact he asks an average of 1000 every day. 🙂 This is how he learns (I remind myself of this when I’m answering the same question for the 10th time). But for him there’s no thought to – if it’s a good question, what I will think of him for asking such a question, if he should already know the answer – none of that – he just asks whatever pops into his cute little head.

Hopping, skipping, jumping and running are not part of an exercise routine for my four year old – they are just the different ways he moves around. He doesn’t really walk. Anywhere. Apparently walking is not as fun as the before mentioned modes of movement. He doesn’t worry or fret about getting enough steps in that day – activity and movement are just part of his daily life – because he enjoys them.

My four year old can laugh at just about anything if he’s in the right mood. He finds humour in the tiniest things and his laugh is contagious. You can’t help but laugh yourself. In those moments when he’s laughing and I don’t really know why but I start laughing because his little laugh is so funny – in those moments there is true joy. It’s nothing monumental or amazing, it’s just life. Four year olds know it feels good to laugh; so they do.

Somewhere along the way as part of the growing up process we tend to lose some of these things. We start to think we know all the answers and so things aren’t as interesting. We start to become more self-conscious and don’t ask questions for fear of what others might say or think. (For many of us) skipping, running, jumping and hopping are not normal ways of getting around anymore but have become part of an exercise regime we drag ourselves out of bed (hopefully) every morning to do. Sometimes we can go a whole week or longer without really laughing. I mean laughing – out loud – from your gut – for really no good reason at all! We’re too busy for these things. The little things. The “childish” things. But let me just say. Four year olds know how to have fun. They enjoy life. They aren’t stressed or worried; they take things as they come. They bounce back quickly. They forgive quickly. They love passionately. What if we could manage to keep some of these traits as adults. Still managing to be mature and to make wise decisions and to take care of our families – but at the same time remaining curious and adventurous. Not being afraid to say what we believe or think or to ask a question when we don’t understand something. And to laugh. To laugh because it feels good and it is good and it sets you free a little on the inside. What if?

We all seem to want these things – to be happy, to have joy, to forget past wrongs, forgive and move on, to enjoy the little things – the things life is made up of. To live and love passionately. More often than not I think I have so much to learn about living life to the fullest from my kids. They know how to do it. They’ve got it figured out. I just hope I can help them hold onto to these things even as they grow and mature.

My Parenting “Don’ts”

I am a parent; a mother. There are many things I do… I give out lots of hugs and cuddles, I kiss boo boo’s, I say bedtime prayers every night.  I change poopy diapers, I do bath time, I clean up (or try to), and I answer a lot of questions. I listen to my 4 year old’s stories, I laugh a lot, sometime I cry. I love with all my heart and I always strive to do what’s best for my kids. However there are a few things that I simply refuse to do…these have become my parenting “don’ts.” Some of these can prove very difficult at times, but parenting is work! These are things I just don’t put up with.

1. I don’t tolerate whining

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Exactly. “I’m sorry I don’t speak that language.” Is usually what I say to my four year old when he starts to get that whiney tone in his voice. I refuse to listen to you while you’re whining and complaining and your voice is reaching that level that makes me want to scream. There is a proper way to ask for something if you’d like it and that is what I’m trying to teach my kids instead of giving them what they’re whining for without even thinking, just to make them stop. (Tempting, believe me – but not helpful especially in the long run).

2. I don’t entertain tantrums

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All kids have ’em. Some more than others. The dreaded temper tantrums. They’re nasty of course. No one likes them. And while I can’t fully avoid them since I have a four year old and a 14 month old – I do not simply “put up with them.” Kids need to know from a very young age that they don’t always get their way – and especially not if they scream and throw a fit. It doesn’t work like that. If they’re left to throw a fit and then eventually get what they want – they know they can – and that’s dangerous. You’ve just made your life a lot harder in the long run. While tantrums are not nice to deal with – they need to be dealt with EVERY time. Even when my kids throw a tantrum – it doesn’t usually last long, because they are learning it never works – it never gets them what they want.

3. I don’t answer questions before coffee

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This is just a really practical one. It’s sort of not completely true…as I do mumble vague responses to my four year old such as, “yes” “mmhmm” “ok” “maybe” “right” and “I don’t know sweetie” as he proceeds to ask me 50 questions each morning before we have even made it downstairs – before the coffee is even on! I’m not a morning person and it’s a real struggle. The especially hard questions are the never ending stream of “why questions.” I just don’t have answers, especially not before coffee. I usually end up saying, “Just let mommy get downstairs and get some coffee sweetie, then I’ll answer that.” Thankfully most mornings he does eventually give up, unsatisfied with my run-of-the-mill answers and lets me get my coffee in.

4. I don’t negotiate with toddlers

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Maybe I’m just not as patient a parent as some people are, but I just refuse to negotiate with my toddler. A two year old doesn’t need a choice about what to eat – they just need food to eat. And if they’re really hungry – they’ll eat it. As children grow older I do believe it’s important to give them age-appropriate responsibility and choices, but as a young toddler – I’m the parent, and they’re the kid, I make the decisions – end of story. Besides, most of the time to they even really know what they want? And toddlers tend to change their minds about 10 times a minute anyways. Maybe in a minute he will actually want what I’m giving him and if not too bad – back to number 2.

5. I don’t lose (even though some days it feels like it)

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Parenting is truly hard work. It’s not easy and many times it’s not fun. Most of the time if would be easier to give in to the little people’s demands but then I have lost and it will make it that much harder the next time. The fact is I am the parent. I love them and want what is best for them and I make decisions based on that. And most of the time small children can’t see that – they just want what they want not knowing that sometimes what they want will actually end up hurting them – so my saying “no” has their best interests and safety in mind. When I refuse to give in and refuse to lose the battle (no matter how hard) I am teaching my children to respect authority. Children who have no respect for authority usually grow up to be adults with no respect for authority which usually means trouble. I want the best for my kids in every way and teaching them to be respectful will help them as they grow and hopefully with lots of love (and prayer) they will grow up to be loving, respectful, compassionate people.

No one is a perfect parent because there are no perfect people. All we can do is our best, every day. The biggest influence in your child’s life (especially small children) is you, their parent. They watch everything you do; they learn by watching you. It’s a scary thing sometimes! Lord, give us the strength we need to be the kind of parents You want us to be. Amen!

I Want To Be A Present Parent

Parenting – it’s so many things – all at the same time. Who knew you could feel so many emotions at once!

Excitement, exhaustion, joy, frustration, fulfilment, drained, exhilarated, defeated. I could go on.

Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the craziness of being a parent. To get caught up in managing everything and finishing all the tasks on the to do list. You can find yourself lost in the middle of it all somewhere between changing 10 diapers a day, preparing three different meals-three times a day and an endless pile of laundry. But I am reminded today to slow down. To let the laundry sit a while more, to leave the dishes for an hour and to just be with my kids. Sometimes it’s easy to just get lost in doing everything for your kids. It’s hard especially when they’re small and they are very dependant on you. But even more than they need you to do things for them, they need you to take time and just be with them. Play and laugh with them. Learn with them. Hug them. Listen to them. (I know the stories three year olds tell can be hard to follow sometimes – listen anyways).

I am reminded today to just take time to BE present with my kids, not distracted by all I have to finish or work or preparing things for the following day. But to be completely there for them and to take time with them. I know it’s those precious moments that I will remember and cherish for years to come (not the 1 million loads of laundry I did) and that they will appreciate those times more than I’ll probably ever know. These early stages can be demanding it’s true, but I don’t want to miss out on special moments because I’m too concerned with doing instead of being. 

So here’s to having a slightly messier but more joy-filled home. It’s like that saying: “T-I-M-E  – how kids spell love.” Take the time, I believe it will make a bigger difference then we could ever imagine.

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