I often look at my children and think, ‘I bet they’ll be (insert adjective here) when they grow up’, or, ‘she’s going to be so….’. I’m sure you get the idea.
I do it all the time.
I say it to my husband, to my family, mostly to myself, but I’m actually trying to stop saying it quite as frequently. The reason being; I’m trying to enjoy their childhood.
I think it’s fairly natural to think about their future. As parents we want what’s best for them and a part of that is trying to lay the groundwork now. Their character and their personalities, although innate, are still being slightly moulded by us, their parents and caregivers. Their interests and their talents are encouraged and their early education is everything they know from home. Of course we ponder upon how it will affect them. I know I certainly question the things that we do and wonder if it’s enough.
I also think about their physical appearance. Miss C is getting taller and taller by the day, she has quite long legs, it stands to reason that she’ll be tall as an adult. And their hair. I wonder if it will change colour again and will it stay curly or straight. Will they like it or will they change it?
Some of this may resonate with you, some of it may seem crazy, but it’s what I do.
I realised earlier though, if I’m thinking about their adulthood now, then they’re going to be adults in my head for a lot longer than they will be in reality. When they’re all grown up (because let’s face it, it’s going to happen) I’m sure I will be trying to remember them as small children.
So instead of thinking about what is to come, what will be happening but hasn’t actually happened yet and won’t for a while, I’m going to try thinking of them now.
As they are.
My two girls, aged two and four who are chatty and imaginative. My little helpers, my little painters, my messy, mucky, playful and inquisitive little girls.
Why wonder what they will look like in years to come, they’re beautiful now. Their hair is crazy in the morning and messy at the end of a day full of playing and running. One girl lets me tie it up and doesn’t touch it, the other takes bobbles and clips out within minutes.
These are the things to concentrate on and enjoy so I can remember when they’re not so little anymore.
Yes, they’re both getting taller, but they still fit on my knee. They still fit in my arms when I carry them upstairs at the end of a tiring day. They may be growing out of their clothes but it’s still me that will choose the replacements. I’m sure their own shopping days will come, but not yet. I can enjoy taking them now and buying little shorts and summer dresses with them.
I don’t want to wish this time away. People say it all the time, “it goes so quickly, before you know it they’re leaving school”.
I’ve realised there are certain things I can do to make the time with them not go as fast, and enjoying the ‘now’ is one of them. Taking in their smiles, listening to their questions, laughing at their little jokes and funny dances.
I don’t know when certain things are going to stop, either. The other day we were sitting around the table eating our dinner and I suddenly realised that both girls were on chairs. No high chairs, no booster seats, just simple dining room chairs. When did that happen?!
Things change before we realise, missing the past and anticipating the future means we don’t appreciate what’s right before our eyes. It’s true, childhood is so short in comparison to the rest of our lives, growing up is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy how they are now, as grumpy or as giddy as they may be.
So I’ve started taking a few minutes during each day just to stop and take in the scene. I’ll turn round and look at them in their car seats, I’ll sit for a moment and watch them play. I peep round doorframes as they’re engrossed in their games and I close my eyes and breathe in the scent of them as they wrap their arms around me.
Just to witness them in those moments helps me to realise exactly where we are, exactly what our little family is like and exactly how blessed I am to have them.
(the tantrums, the tiredness and the messing around at bedtime, I’m not sure about hanging onto those moments. But still, I guess it’s still a picture of where we are right now)
‘When they grow up’ I hope they have happy memories of their childhood and their time spent at home, and I hope they have a mummy who savoured every second of it.
They are children, they are four and two. We have a lifetime ahead of us yet.