I like to do things quickly and efficiently. I like ticking off a long to do list and working towards goals. I like walking fast.
Then I had kids and everything changed.
Nothing could be done quickly or efficiently. Nothing I tell you!
In the early days, my to-do list comprised of having a shower.
The only time I could walk fast was when I had the baby in the stroller, and even then, I had to stop, stop, stop.
Becoming a parent was a defining period in my life. I found the transition difficult for many of the reasons above.
I’m still a busy person. That hasn’t changed because it’s part of who I am. However, my children have this ability to notice and appreciate small joys, and in caring for them, they taught me to do the same.
1. Nature is amazing
I’ve heard “Mum look!” more times than I can measure. Sometimes, looking at a bug isn’t high on my priority list. And yet, it’s something I now do regularly. The children and I watch ants, and beetles, and butterflies, and glory in their beauty. We hunt for toadstools, collect rainbow leaves and look for the perfect pet rock. I see the world anew and it’s so very amazing and beautiful!
2. Use the senses
My daughter and I had half an hour between appointments, so we found a pretty spot next to a river. We talked about what we could hear: the birds; the water licking the boats; the nearby cars; the way the wind rustled in the trees. We talked about what we could feel: the warmth of the sun on our skin; the feel if the breeze in our hair; “you holding my hand mum”. We talked about what we could see: the way the sun sparkled on the water; the different shades of green in the trees; the colours of my dress. We spent 30 minutes this way, and it was a one of the most grounding and relaxing experiences.
3. The power of a love
Snuggled beside my daughter, when I went to say goodnight, was a stuffed toy. I had to kiss the toy goodnight too, because there’s power in a mother’s kiss. We kiss the scrapes better, we kiss toys goodnight, and we kiss soft cheeks when they are asleep. Children are generous with their love and so accepting of love in return. If only the adult world could be more like that. Love simply, and truly.
4. Laugh more
I laugh more. Silly dances, cute sayings and interesting conversations make up my days. And you HAVE to retain your sense of humour as a parent. I remember this one time at a birthday gathering where we lit sparklers after dinner. I noticed my son following the safety instructions I gave him very carefully: don’t touch the end and bring it back immediately when it’s done (that is: don’t drop it on the ground). I encouraged my son with my words, “I’ve noticed how sensible you’ve been with the sparklers!” and he replied confidently, “Yeah!!” and then added, “I was just over there trying to burn the leaves!” Ha ha. Super…
5. Time is just time
I used to think of time as something I could manipulate time to my will. Having kids destroyed that notion. And that’s a very good thing because time is just time. There isn’t more or less of it. You have to weave snippets in-between the time you have, and so that is why learning to enjoy and recognise small joys is so valuable and important.
I’ll admit, there’s still a grumble in me sometimes when I’m asked to “look” and “watch” and “come see” yet again. However, I can’t think of a time when I’ve regretted taking the time to stop. To pause. And there’s even more to it than that. I feel like the children have given me back myself; who I’m meant to be. I lost myself for a while there, but I’m in climbing my way back again, I found a refined version myself that is more compassionate and in touch with the beauty of the world. I see the way they look at the world, and it’s revolutionised my life for the better. I’ll never be the same again.