I was sharing with some friends the other day about how much I ask my kids to change in the first 5 years of there lives and it occurred to me to offer a little more grace to them and the ones like them when i realized how much I really do ask of them.
Newborn: they start out these helpless little blobs of joy and smelly things and have parents that are, according to the movies and TV shows, supposed to be happy about this ALL the time. I don’t know about you but when both my sons were all happy and giggles at 2 am I was not laughing, in fact I was crying most of the time because unlike them who get to sleep most of the day, I was awake freaking out because they would stop breathing every now and then and my solution was to check every few minuets because apparently my looking would some how enable them to continue sucking in the very air that keeps them breathing.
Oh the pressure begins. The conversation would go something like this:
“Oh I know you were just born and all and I know some where in your divinely wired brain you are supposed to know how to eat and swallow so lets get to it because this Dr or mid wife is kind of starting to piss me off! Oh there you go eat eat eat away. Ya my little one did it.”
Then you come home to relentless questions from the well meaning people: Is the baby sleeping well? What kind of question is that! They just got the eating thing down I’ve been home for 10 minuets, the kid might as well feel like they got sent to a whole other world. They were in water that was warm and cozy. Now they are in air that’s freezing most of the time. Or another question I love, are you sleeping well? To which after I get done lying right through my teeth because the mail lady does not need to see my cry for 30 minuets at a time because I just cant seem to remember where my EVERYTHING went. “Yes im sleeping well thank you. Love my little one.”
First Year: the Dr’s appointments! For the first year, are they holding there head? Tummy time! Tummy time! Tummy time! Do they recognize you when you come in to the room? Are they eating by them selves yet? Making sounds? Picking things up? Are they crawling? Walking? Cruising the furniture? Its at this point my eyes glaze over because I starting thinking about my dog cruising the couch for snacks in the cushions and I remember her eating my bagel breakfast sandwich on the first day that everyone slept all at the same time. That my friends, is grounds for re-homing! but then I would cry again so never mind. The Dr. notices my glazed over look and asks the last question again, hows baby sleeping? To which I reply, “I think he decided sleep is for when hes old”
Year 2: They are walking, talking in a code only parents can decipher, opinionated and in to everything. They cant decide if they want to eat or just throw there food on the floor and then scream because there noodles were eaten by the dog and some how its our fault. Oh and they are besides them selves that I wont let them whack me with the tonka truck one more time.
Year 3: They are getting this whole eating with out throwing it at the parents thing down really well, sleeping has settled down a little bit, and now the real pressure comes. Do you feel pee pee? Poo poo? Do you need to go? Did you go? Where is it if you did? (guilty look on the dogs face, and I think, less to clean up) Then the moment in the far back corner of Costco, the first time I brave the no diaper, he just peed in the parking lot so we should be good. Second baby just ate so we are good. And its as if while im inspecting the giant batch of grapes that im about to buy and the boys come together, “are you ready to see how fast she can push this over loaded cart the quarter mile to the bathroom? Ready go! Mommy I have to pee!!!!!!!” Loudly so everyone around can hear. I check my list, I cant just abandon this cart I have the best batch of grapes. And we are off, we make it, and out comes a few drops. In my mind I’m like “REALLY? I almost ran some people over to get here”. But out of my mouth comes “YAAAA go pee pee on the potty!”
Year 4: More questions, is he writing, reading? Can he count? Alphabet? Potty trained? Jump up and down? I think from the counter or off the floor? Does bouncing count? Is he eating well? How is he with other kids? Can he write a code that programs a rocket to launch? They throw that one in just so they know I’m paying attention now, remember the dog?
After thinking about all this stuff I ask my kids to do I realize I really need to give them extra grace. When hes hanging upside down off the grocery cart or yelling so loud that I need ear plugs to hear because when parenting is a 24/7 deal I will have a chance to “try again” in 5 minuets. I expect my kids to behave in ways that really in the reality of things doesn’t make sense. In honesty when I take an honest look at my thinking, I want him to be a robot and then I realize: Hes 4 or hes 14 months depending on which one I’m watching lick the window. Being a kid is such a short lived thing, offer the guy some grace, truly how much have I been asked to grow in 4 years of life? Surely not as much as I’m asking of them. Please have grace for us if you see my son walk right in front of your grocery cart in the store or runs in circles for no apparent reason at all. Chances are its the lesser of two situations like walk freely in the store or go bowling in the juice aisle and see how many bottles he can drop to the floor before hes caught.
Some days I just look at the and say out loud, not what I’m thinking of course, but remind my self “your acting your age, your supposed to …” They arn’t robots. Thank God for the gift of growth not only in them but my self as well. Extra grace required for all parties involved. I try to tickle him instead of grab his hand for the 100th time because laughter releases so much more tension in him and me. Often that is all that is needed, a little bit of purposeful connection.