Yesterday Quinn turned 5! I had a really hard time letting go of yesterday. There may have even been tears. When I was snuggling Quinn in bed he finally said, “Mom, when are you going to let go of me?” He meant the excessive squeezing and hugging, but I couldn’t help but to think of that question in another way. Man is letting go hard. Five just feels so damn old. He isn’t a baby or toddler–he is a boy. It kind of hurts. I didn’t expect to feel this way.
Quinn is so special. I know every mom says that, but really– he is. There is such a joy in the way he lives life. He wears his heart on his sleeve, feels so deeply and dances to the beat of his own drum. I think part of me worries that with age, these magical parts of him will disappear.
I remember sitting in the mall watching Quinn and Eleanor play with one of those screens in the floor that change when you step on it. They were dancing, stomping, spinning– completely enthralled with something so simple and filled with so much joy. As my kids were doing that, a group of teens walked by. They looked so angry and lost. I thought to myself, when does this (my kids playing and not worried about what a soul in the world thinks) change to that (sad and self-conscious).
I know so much of that is normal. And each phase my kids pass through will bring it’s own blessings. As mom, I feel like it is my goal to preserve a little bit of the spunk, creativity and joy. Quinn turning five also marks five years of parenthood for Ross and I. I posted a bit about this on Facebook:
Today we celebrated my son’s 5th birthday & our 5 year anniversary of parenthood. The last 5 years have been one crazy adventure filled with so many hugs, kisses, snuggles, smiles, laughs and blessings. I thank god every single day for my little boy. Nobody sees the world quite like him. He brings joy wherever he goes. 5 years ago today I could not have begun to fathom how completely awesome it was to be Quinn’s mom. Love when life surprises you with more blessings then you could ever imagine.
So here I am: Five years later, 3 kids and more blessings then I could have ever imagined. I thought it would be fun to share five things I have learned over those five years.
1. I set the tone.
I knew this from my teaching days, but it still catches me off guard every now and then. Sure, the kids contribute to it all, but I SET THE TONE. Ever have those mornings, afternoons, days where you just cannot seem to get it together. You have a moment alone and you are overwhelmed by how frustrated you feel, how many tears there were that day, how many times you raised your voice? Like you are facing an uphill battle? I cannot tell you how many times I have had those moments and I have taken a deep breath and realized– it is me!
They are just children. I choose how to react to a situation and I guide the day. I try to remind myself of this. Changing your perspective can literally change your whole day. When the kids are bouncing off the walls, I tell myself:
They are just kids.
Sitting still is hard.
They are not trying to be naughty.
They need a place to put their energy!
And then I give them a place to put their energy. I could easily spend the afternoon yelling at them to sit still, be quiet, punish them, etc. Or I can set the tone and give them something positive to do. This is where we paint, we get out the play dough, we get out of the house, I suggest they build with blocks, I bust out the Legos.
2. This too shall pass.
Every minute, every day, every year, every age, every stage will bring it’s own blessings. Come good or bad– This too shall pass. When they are newborns and up all night—this too shall pass. Enjoy the extra snuggles. When they are throwing an epic tantrum because they are sick and tired–this too shall pass. Don’t do or say things you will regret. When they say apple spider, instead of apple cider—this too shall pass. A motto to live by, no doubt.
3. Crazy things will make you want to freeze time.
You probably think when my child walks or goes to kindergarten– I’m going to lose it! The funny thing is, the things I thought would make me want to freeze time weren’t quite as emotional as I thought they would be. There were little things that caught me off guard. When Quinn got a mole above his lip, my heart broke just a little. There is nothing wrong with a mole, but something about that baby skin disappearing made me a little sad. When we were potty training I would help Quinn out or wait for him in the bathroom and then one day he said, “Can I have some privacy?”. It stung just a little. Sure, I was thankful to be done changing diapers and for him to being doing a task independently. It just never occurred to me. I had been changing his diaper for so long and he was still my baby. The first time Quinn drew something that actually resembled a person I wanted to cry my eyes out. The scribbles were gone. These moments are filled with so much pride and so much heartache. It is so beautiful to see them grow and succeed and so hard to let go. There are so many moments as parent that I just want to soak in and never forget.
4. Stick to a bedtime.
I’m always surprised how many parents keep young children up late. Kids NEED their sleep. Tired kids are crabby kids. Not every kid wants to go to sleep, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. If you keep kids up too late they get a second wind and then bed time gets really complicated. Couple that with all the extra cortisol running through their system and you have a child who wont get a good nights sleep. A baby or toddler should be going to bed around 7. I know it seems crazy early, but all the growing and brain development is hard work! And when kids are up, they are up! They don’t sit still or slow down. We stick to a bedtime –for the most part– sometimes life gets in the way. This makes parenting infinitely easier. For starters, well rested kids are happier kids. As much as I love my children, I need a break. I need time to myself. Time with my husband. If we start bedtime at 7 and wrap up tucking in 3 kids by 7:30 we can get 2-3 hours by ourselves and still get to bed at a decent time. Happier parents, happier kids –win, win! There have been so many times when our house is full of too many tears and I take a step back and examine our week. In doing so I realize we have been going, going, going and my kids bedtime has been pushed back. This is when I get us back on track and the tears disappear. I swear by this– it might be my number one parenting tip.
5. Maybe I don’t have to worry so much.
It is inevitable, as parents, that we will worry. Worry about big things, worry about little things, worry about insignificant things. One day my mom (she has four children) said something to me that was quite profound.
If I had known how awesome all you kids would turn out, I sure could have saved myself a lot of worry.
Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but something about that stuck with me. I thought about all the things I worried about with Quinn and what a non-issue those things were. When I find myself caught up in worry, I try to remind myself of this. I’m a good mom. I love my kids deeply. My kids know they are loved. They have a safe home and food. Their lives are enriched with so many extra things– trips to the zoo, gymnastics, the park, etc. We are surrounded by family. When I worry I spent too much time on the computer working on a sponsored post, I remind myself that the money will help my family out. That even if I wasn’t “paying attention” to my kids, they were home, safe, playing among their siblings. Even if that hour was spent watching Curious George, they will be okay. I have to remind myself not beat myself up over these things. Not to worry quite so much.
Those are just five things that I learned in my five years of parenthood. Not necessarily the most profound or the most important, but five things that stuck out to me. Five things you might relate to. Five things you might know, but just need to hear it again. That happens to me all the time. Maybe you are new to this parenting thing, maybe you have more years parenting then I am old. I would love to know something you have learned from your years of parenting or something that resonates with you from this post. If you enjoy this mom musing, there are plenty more to check out here.