Monday, November 03, 2008

Parenthood is improving.

Not even three months ago, I wrote this post out of frustration over not enjoying time with my children. Sometimes I felt sad, like I was missing out on them because I was so worried about keeping the house in some kind of order and getting meals on the table. Other times I thought of my high school friends who are still living the single life or the DINK (dual income no kids) life and I felt jealous (although I realize that some of them may turn green when they think of my life, too). Then there were the times when I was just downright mad. Mad that I couldn't get my kids to behave the way I wanted them to, mad that no matter how much laundry I do it seems like it's never enough, mad that my kids don't like to eat kale...okay, maybe I can understand that last one.

It just seemed like I was having a lot more frustrated, angry, and sad days with my kids than happy ones. And then something magical started to happen. I don't know for sure how it happened, other than working on it day by day and minute by minute and walking with my children as they evolve from screaming, illogical toddlers into thoughtful, intelligent young girls. Here's my big thought for the day:

My children are becoming PEOPLE!

They're not babies anymore. One of them cleans toilettes. One of them puts her shoes away. Sometimes they both put their dishes in the dishwasher. They can buckle their own seatbelts. They put their hats and gloves away in their cubbies and can find them the next time they need them. One of them can...READ!! They don't need to be pushed on the swing. They rake leaves. Sometimes they cut up their own pancakes. They pour their own milk when the jug is light enough. They usually eat what I put in front of them. They take out the trash and bring the empty cans back. They can reach their light switches and usually remember to turn off their lights. They talk on the phone to their grandparents and their grandparents can understand them! They don't pull the dog's tail. They color nice pictures. They sit quietly and look at books. They say "please" and "thank you" and last week one of them even shook hands with an adult, looked her in the eye, and said, "It's nice to meet you." Imagine my delight!

Yes, they're growing up. But they're still sweet and innocent. This period of childhood must be mysterious and secret, because I've never heard anyone talk about it. It's after the "Mommy, change my diapers! I've got poop all over my hands! WAAAAAH!" phase but before the eye-rolling, "No, I don't want you to help in my classroom!" phase. It's the phase where kids are beginning to be independent and helpful but without the attitude that I assume will attack me later.

As I've been thinking about the changes I'm witnessing in my children, I've been considering what the causes might be. Most of it, I believe, is just a result of my kids growing up and beginning to think by themselves and beyond themselves. It's a natural progression to begin to realize that the universe does not revolve around one's self and thankfully my kids seem to be entering that phase. At the same time, I've been evolving into a calmer parent. It's been an intentional change, but also one made easier by my kids concurrently becoming independent, rational, and thoughtful people.

Parenting is becoming fun. I'm appreciating my kids' joy, their spontaneity, their humor. I'm enjoying reading with them (even chapter books!), I devour their artwork and look forward to seeing what new words they will write tomorrow. I love watching them run, arms flailing, toes twinkling. I look forward to feeling one of them melt under my touch each evening as I give her a back scratch and say goodnight. The other one prefers to be told how wonderfully smart and beautiful she is, which is when she melts like her sister. Seeing them change, watching them grow, figuring out what makes them tick -- this is fun! I'm finally starting to understand this passage from Psalm never hit home with me before.

Don't you see that children are God's best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior's fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don't stand a chance against you;
you'll sweep them right off your doorstep.


Dad said...

Your kids are not developing this way by accident. As I've said many times, you and Scott are fantastic parents providing your kids with the proper amounts of love, guidance and discipline. I remember your frustration several months ago and knew that this would pass. There are many more challenges ahead as the kids enter different stages of their development. There are going to be many more good and bad days, but I'm confident you'll meet these challenges in the same thoughtful ways you've done to date. I for one will be sad to see them lose their innocence but it's all part of growing up. BTW, can't wait to see these new look kids in December!

mark said...

Comment unrelated to this post: Here's the Chicago-style pizza recipe I'm using. I made the dough last night (I've tried once before, though not with a deep-dish crust, and it was a complete failure. I'm concerned about letting the dough rise in the fridge, but this morning it was looking pretty good). I'm substituting pep for the sausage, though. Although I prefer sausage, Dana likes the pepperoni (and it will be a lot easier to find).

Hillary Dickman said...

Thanks, Mark! I'm definitely going to try that recipe. Thanks for posting it.

I've let regular pizza dough rise in the fridge before and it turned out okay, but I usually let it come to room temp before I stretch it. I bet the deep dish stuff is more forgiving that way.

Laureen said...

Ditto to your Dad's comment!!