Yesterday, a good friend asked if I could watch her little girl (age 2) today while she took care of some things. I was so happy to oblige!
I remember when my daughter was 2, I hated..I mean HATED...having other children over to play. When my girl was the age that my boy is now, I had a friend who would call me occasionally to watch her little girl (who was the same age as mine). I would say yes and then spend the rest of the day regretting it. This little girl was fearsome and not really very nice to my daughter. One of these cherished times fell on a day when I was completely emotionally overwrought. I was trying to potty train my then 2 year old daughter (she hadn't really figured it out and was having accidents every time); I was pregnant with #2 but didn't know it yet (read - very hormonally emotional); I was "tending" an hour and a half longer than I was asked and it was way past nap time when the visit ended; and I lived in a small townhouse in Rexburg Idaho and it was late summer(unfortanutely it was also quite cold making it impossible to go outside). When my friend left with her daughter, I sat down in the entry and bawled. I decided after that experience, I would never again say yes to "tending" unless I really wanted to.
Today, I wanted to and not just because I wanted to help my friend. I really wanted to have her little girl over to play! As I was chasing the kids around my back yard and laughing as much as they were, I wondered what has changed....
1. I have two kids now and not just one. I know that my house will never really be clean and that things aren't ever going to look perfect for very long (if I'm lucky, things look OK for about 12.3 seconds). I'm just not so stressed when the kids pull everything out of the closets, try on every dress-up, tip over the laundry basket, spill their water (or even their juice), or run around the house while yelling at the top of their voices. Maybe two kids has just taught me to be a little more mellow.
2. My first child was/is a girl - my second child was/is a boy. Boys most certainly will be boys. My 20 month old ball of fire is a complete destruction zone. My husband and I have renamed him Destructo Calrissian (an homage to Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back) for the wonderful and mysterious way he annihilates everything he touches. For some reason, I find that I'm not so worried about girls pulling out all the dress-ups when Destructo is in the next room mangling yet another book, climbing up his chest of drawers, or getting a hold of the markers a certain big sister has left out. He has been another exercise in chilling for me...bless his destructive heart.
3. I'm now living in Arizona (Phoenix area) in a house...with a backyard...and a little more room inside too. It's so much easier to have extra kids when you feel like there is a space for them to move and play. Today the temp should reach about 80 degrees (sorry for everyone still living with snowstorms) so we spent most of the time outside playing. Kids are just happy when they are running in the great outdoors. It's so nice to have a fenced backyard where the kids can get into trouble and still be close to home.
4. I'm a few years older and wiser. My mom used to remind me, "People are more important than things." It's just taken an extra 20 years for me to really get that message. The thing is...that children are really, REALLY more important than things. Getting frustrated with them is just not helpful. I'm not saying that it is possible to completely avoid frustration. Kids = Frustration. For example: my now 4, almost 5, year old daughter just came slinking out of the bathroom sliding on her bottom, I know she just had a BM because she told me and there she is sliding her little tush all over the floor, wanting me to check to see if she got it all wiped. Yes...a little frustrating... The thing is, I used to feel more frustrated more often and over things that really didn't matter. It's good to keep growing up, even when your in your "early" thirties.
5. Last thing...I promise. I have really learned to play again. I think that because I got married and started having children in my late twenties (I was 28 when I had my first baby) I had become quite serious and overly adult. It's been so fun to rediscover the joy of playing. And since playing is what kids do best...we're all having a lot more fun.