Be Real: It's Hard to Remember the Child Inside, But You Can Do It
When was the last time you remember being unabashedly happy – almost selfishly happy?
I remember days when I was a child that I would just run out of the house in the morning, head off into the woods or to the barn, and just have an adventure all day – not returning home until I heard the lunch or dinner bell.
In those days, my time was completely about me. What did I want to do in this moment, in the next moment, and in the moment after that? I didn’t have anywhere to be. I didn’t have anyone to take care of for the most part – aside from regular chores that I could do at any point in the day.
I could just be.
A few years later (gulp), here I am sitting at my desk – a desk I enjoy, but also a desk where I spend entirely too much of my time, sitting and staring at a screen.
Gone are the days when I would explode into the outdoors and just frolic about for hours on end. Gone are the days of no commitments or worries. Now, I have a house and many, many bills to pay. I have two small children to provide for and be there for. I have a job and responsibilities.
I am NOT going to say my life sucks now (although I might think it from time to time). My life is just different. It is different in many good ways. There are also some downsides but that’s to be expected, right? We are adults – we have to be responsible! Right? Yes.
Through the Eyes of My Children
Some days I look at my kids and I worry that my anxiety and worry about the bills and work and everything are weighing too heavily on them. I try to not talk about money, however it seemingly comes up quite frequently. For example, they want to go on a trip or buy a new toy and I have to say that we can’t right now and then when pressed I tell them we can’t afford it.
I think this might be good parenting in that it allows them to understand that money isn’t infinite and that we have to budget and manage our funds. However, it is also a bummer when, as parents, we can’t afford things and to see the sadness in their eyes.
I hope that my kids happily recall plenty of time spent adventuring in the outdoors. It is one of my main goals for the summer to make sure they get tons of free-play time to spend outside.
This unrestricted time is so important and I know it was important for me as a child. I truly think it helped me become an independent thinker and be more creative as an adult.
I can already see their enjoyment in many ways and at times, I have tears in my eyes, because they so remind me of being a child and that is one of my true joys as a parent – remembering the glories of childhood and being able to relive them with my own kids.
For example, I have a seven-year-old son who is practically my twin … except when I was seven I was a girl. He's my twin in our personalities – the fact that we like to explore and hunt down answers to the big questions. He's my twin in that he likes to wear odd outfits. I recall being his age or a little older and being in love with this one particular puffy vest. It was red, white, and blue, and I wore it religiously. In fact, my mother probably hated that vest. Perhaps she was relieved when it melted as I stood too close to our coal stove.
In the same vein, Alex loves to wear a fisherman style cap that he inherited from his Pops, my dad. He likes to wear the quiver from his bow and arrow set any time he goes on a nature hike. He enjoys collecting interesting rocks, pebbles, sticks, leaves, and bird feathers, which he conveniently stores in the pockets of whatever pants he is wearing. This makes for a very interesting time doing laundry.
He's very reasonable. He's a deep thinker. When you talk to him, he's engaged and understands what you're saying. Often I hear him repeating my words back to his friends or sister as he explains to them how the world works.
Recently, I heard him tell his sister, Jane, that she didn’t get to pick what show they would watch because he would pick something educational and she would pick something silly. “Mommy always wants something educational, so you know I’m right,” he told her as I chuckled from the kitchen.
While having a child very similar is definitely a blessing, I can also see where having a child that is different is also a blessing. Jane is not very similar in my personality. She's boisterous and loud - oh so loud! She sings and talks all day long, even if the words she’s speaking aren't quite English.
However, I must add that in some ways she is like me. Where Alex will never notice a new picture on the wall or a new toy or doll on the shelf, Jane will always notice. She walks into the house and immediately points out things that are different.
I recently hung a shadow box that my mom got me for Christmas and placed in it the glass figurines that I've inherited from my mom. Right after I hung it up, Alex spent quite a bit of time in the bedroom where it is hanging. He had no idea of its existence.
Then Jane shows up and immediately walks over and stares at it in awe and wonder. She loves all the tiny little figures and while she is only allowed to look for now, she is excited to know that when she is older she will be allowed to touch them.
That's my girl.
I hope to allow myself to see through those eyes that look at each day with awe and wonder. I pray I allow myself to explode out of the house on an imaginary adventure more often. And, I hope that my children know that this life is to be lived and enjoyed – not always burdened by responsibility and commitments.
Here’s hoping you also embrace the joys you find in your daily lives. Happy February.