And when I’m having a day when I’m not quite feeling like myself, when I’ve had a late night, or when I feel more drained than usual, it’s not just me who is affected. It’s my babies. My sweet, impressionable sponge-like babies, five and two, who absorb every word and bit of energy I exude, be it negative or positive.
This is the part of parenthood I was not prepared for.
When my children were tiny babies, and I was a bit tired, I could shuffle it away for a while. But, now are they are a little older and are more aware of the world. My sweet, fair-skinned girl is a wise, independent force to be reckoned with who has a calendar busier than mine, and my little boy is a gentle soul who is exploring the world of demanding, bossy toddlers. Some days, as much as I love spending time with them, I’ve found myself more drained than ever. When my energy is low, I feel like I can’t be the mother I need to be.
I'm reminded that I need to take care of myself and refill my cup - which takes discipline sometimes!
For me, refilling my cup can only come through prayer and self-care. I have to love myself - take care of myself - so that I can love these children with my words, actions and my listening. So I can be truly present with them. So I can show them what it means to be a good listener and an unconditionally loving mommy. And an encourager in a sometimes critical, hurried world.
I’ve also found it’s important to take time as a parent to reflect on our children and their beautiful qualities, all unique to each child. Otherwise, I find I tend to focus only on what my challenges were for the day, be it discipline issues, manners (or lack thereof), messiness, nap protesting, screaming in the house (or in my ear), pestering a sibling, etc.
A few things I like to do:
Marvel at their photos and wonder - who are these sweet souls?
Wonder who will they become as adults...
Think about what about them I adore or admire...
Recall how they made me smile or laugh...
Or, find something I learned from them.
On days when I feel distant, I try to pull myself back into their world by looking at the world with their precious, new eyes. The bus my daughter rides to school seems like any other bus I’ve seen, but this morning, when I knelt down to kiss her goodbye, I noticed how giant the yellow bus really is. And how huge the towering tree above the bus stop is.
When you’re only five and two, this world is giant – and I feel like it’s my job to lead them through this busy world with rose-colored glasses – to see the beauty and magic and mystery we are given – and not the negative, the tired, the hurried, or the grumpy.
We're not perfect - we're parents. And this journey is a work in progress!
How do you like to bring color to your child's world?