It’s almost midnight and I’m just now sitting down to a little bit of time by myself. My days aren’t my own anymore, though they used to be. I used to rise with the sun, demand a conference room for a few hours, go outside and stretch my legs when I wanted or take a long lunch break with my co-workers on a Friday afternoon. I could eat every meal in peace and watch my favorite television shows uninterrupted. I could use the bathroom without an audience and I had more than just nursery song sing-along CDs in my car.
Sure, things are different now but as I scroll through the 48 pictures I’ve taken just today of my sweet babies, I’m reminded that for all the craziness, sleeplessness and helplessness this season of life can hold, it’s also pretty awesome. Here are a few reasons why.
1. Kids are hilarious.
When they thought I was folding laundry and not listening, I caught my daughter giving my son a salon makeover in our guest bathroom. She’d pulled some small child’s chair in front of the sink, grabbed my face moisturizer and had him greasy and grinning in a matter of minutes. Then I heard her bellow, “Hello! Welcome to my salon! I cut hair and I also cut bodies. Step inside.”
I just lost it right there in the living room and totally blew my cover. It had been a pretty long and tiring day and that little giggle was all I needed to totally turn the day around.
2. Kids love you unconditionally.
We were headed out the door to library storytime last week. I’d gotten everyone ready and fed except for myself (like mamas tend to do) and I was still in my pajamas as my daughter was putting on her shoes to leave. “Should I just wear this?” I asked her, pointing to my polka dot drawstring pants and oversized college sweatshirt.
“Oh yes, mama!” she exclaimed. “You look beautiful in that!”
It doesn’t matter if I’m dressed to the nines in an evening gown or in my sweats with toothpaste on my face, my kids think I’m a princess and tell me multiple times a day how much they love me. You know that soul-bursting adoration you feel every time you look in their eyes? They feel it, too.
3. Kids are resilient.
We introduced a new brother into the family mix and my daughter accepted the shifting dynamics like a champ, welcoming her new best friend with open arms. We’ve asked both kids to get used to different car seats, new beds, a new kiddie table in the kitchen and so much more over the past few months and they’ve embraced each change as a new adventure. We’re getting ready to move soon and we’ll be asking them to take on that new journey with a similar excitement.
My daughter went from clinging to my leg in the two-year-old preschool class to waltzing downstairs to the three-year-old room without so much as looking back in my direction. My son lost his beloved Elmo and I had more of an emotional fit about it than he did.
The takeaway here? Kids adapt incredibly well to changes that we might not expect them to. Of course, they can also throw a meltdown in the grocery store at two in the afternoon because you chose the wrong bunch of bananas but you have to take the bad with the good sometimes, I guess!
4. Kids keep you young.
My mom is superwoman and raised more babies than I have but even she will admit that it’s a tough gig. After watching them for a few hours, she’ll sit up from the couch and say “There’s a reason you get them when you’re young!”
In many ways, I feel older than ever. My hair is graying, things are drooping and I couldn’t run five miles right now if you begged me to. Yet, in other ways, I’m the youngest I’ve ever been. I spend hours each day doodling on the driveway with my oldest or practicing her handwriting in her journal. I throw a ball in the yard with my son or run behind him as he toddles on his scooter.
I’m moving, stretching, bending and laughing every single day and because of that, even on the days when I feel bone-tired and ragged, my heart is still young and eager. Scientists show that state of mind could translate into actual physical benefits, so I’m taking every chance I get to sit on the floor and play Legos or dress-up these days.
5. Kids are perspective-changers.
I was in the middle of a tough day. It was one of those days when every little thing felt hard and it seemed like everyone was out to get me in some way. Then, my daughter grabbed my hands and implored me to close my eyes immediately. I did so and I let her lead me into the kitchen.
“Now open your eyes!” she practically screamed into my ear. I opened them and saw her pointing to the oven. Panic struck me and I asked her what she’d put in the oven. “Nothing, silly!” she laughed. “Look!” That’s when I noticed it. A patch of sunshine was reflecting off the white ceramic oven front, streaming in from the big open window above the sink.
What a metaphor, you know? We get lost in the dark and they literally show us the light. Yes, they’re wild and sometimes uncontrollable and their hair never seems to lie straight but at the end of the day, children are inherently, incredibly good. As we help them discover and lean into that goodness, we can’t help but get a little bit on ourselves as well and it’s that continuous cycle that’s going to change the world.