My husband and I often refer to our twins as our “two little blenders with the lids removed…” It’s the affectionate moniker we jokingly use when our toddlers are acting like, well, toddlers.
This time in our lives has proven to be challenging. Our kids can easily tear three rooms in our house apart before I can even get a handle on one. While my son thinks it’s great fun to pull out the newly-folded laundry I have sitting neatly in a basket in the kitchen (ready to be put away), my daughter is having a great time swirling her hand in the guest bathroom toilet… Meanwhile, my house looks like a tornado has hit it and there is a mountain of laundry sitting on the corner couch.
(Dear Lord – please make the laundry go away!!)
I feel lucky on the days when I’ve actually gotten myself into proper clothes earlier than 2:00 pm in the afternoon and I’ve had at least one decent meal.
I feel like I run from one end of the house to the other. All. Day. Long. And when people ask me what I did on a particular day, I think, “Um, what did I do??\”
Well, I changed diapers. I made a castle out of Lego. I cooked food (well, sometimes it’s more like I burnt food). I bounced two balls simultaneously against the wall. I broke up squabbles between two two-year-olds. I played with toy tractors and dancing dolls and made a funny little skit with a puppet. And I did a happy dance when nap time arrived.
But seriously, what did you do today Jenn? What did you accomplish?
Recently I found myself agitated at the front door while I waited for our daughter to put her shoes on. I had just finished helping her twin brother with his runners and we were almost ready to go out the door to play in the sun and visit the horses – save for Baby Girl’s slow pace.
“Let me help you…” I told her.
To which she declined with the most definitive “Uh UH!” a toddler can muster.
Frustrated, I sat there and watched her. Placing one tiny red cowboy boot, after the other. On the wrong foot.
“Geez, we’re never gonna get outside…!” The voices screamed inside my head. It had already taken me nearly 25 minutes to get my twins in clean socks and barn-appropriate pants. Neither of them had shirts that matched their corresponding outfits, but hey, at least they had shirts…
I stared at her feet. Adorned with two little, red leather boots, pointing outwards. Like duck flippers.
Baby Girl sat there. Beaming proudly at me with a look that declared, “Okay Mom, I’m ready to go outside!”
I felt like crying. I was going to have to remove her boots, place them on the correct feet and whoosh her out the door while she wept over the fact that I had done so.
Revelation. That moment of frustration is precisely when it hit me: Did it really matter that my two-year-old daughter was wearing her boots on the wrong feet??
She just put them on herself. BY HERSELF!
Putting on her own shoes is a skill she’s been trying to master for some time now. Even if she was wearing a right boot on the left foot and vice versa, that wasn’t a crime – and it shouldn’t be met by my annoyance. I should be heralding this moment as a big accomplishment!
It had taken her some time to learn how to pull her own boots on. It was just going to take more time to teach her which foot went in the respective boot.
So what, if we go outside today with her boots on the wrong feet!
And that’s precisely what we did.
I’m confident that eventually, my children will learn how to put their boots on properly. Just like they learned to drink out of cups. Just like they will also learn how to use the potty. And wash their hands. And dress themselves. Saddle their own horses. Get to school on time. Drive cars…
Yes, it matters that we as parents teach them right from wrong.
(No, Baby Girl you cannot bite your brother! No, Little Man – fly swatters are not for use on your sister…)
Yes, it matters that we are there to wipe the dust off when they fall.
Yes, it matters that we as parents learn how to recognize when they are sick, or hungry or simply need a hug.
Yes, it matters that we properly educate them and prepare them for the world.
And yes, it matters that we take the time to play, swim and run with our children.
It also matters that I spend much of my time changing diapers and preparing food and doing laundry. Those tedious chores that we must perform as parental duties… I have to stop looking at them as the tasks that are weighing me down. Each and every day I am accomplishing something. A BIG something. Children are so impressionable. They are like perfectly delicate flowers, blank canvases and spirited foals all at the same time. Every move I make is analyzed by my children. They absorb it all.
Changing diapers is not a waste of time. But harboring resentment over the time it takes to get it done, is.
It may have taken me a little while but I realize now that what really matters is that we, as parents, figure out what really matters.