It was a standing joke in my family when I was younger. How my Dad sulked the year it snowed and none of us would come out and build a snowman with him. I can’t remember how old my siblings and I were but we considered ourselves too old for such pastimes. My Dad must have considered himself to old for such pastimes too – unless he had his children with him to give him the excuse.
Two events in my life have made me think about this recently.
Firstly, My son turned five. My daughter is about to turn three.
I am loving the age my children are at now. They are that bit more independent so I get at least one cup of coffee a day that I don’t have to reheat. They are not at school yet and as a stay at home mum I get plenty of time with them. The youngest is out of nappies. Most nights, when we go to bed, we sleep until at least 6am without interruption.
I loved my children as babies but I don’t miss the days of night-feeds and explosive nappies and tiny people who can’t tell you just what it is they want.
Still, sometimes I think I am still just coming to terms with being a parent while they are growing so fast. There are some things that are over and I will never have them again. No more cots, no more baby sensory, no more spoon feeding, no more jumperoo taking up half the living room.
There will come a point when there will be no more cargo bike. The children are getting so big and heavy and Danny can pedal his own bike now. The plan is to move on to a tandem type bike. I am really excited about a tandem, but I think I will cry the day we sell the cargo bike.
The second event that made me think, was a family week in the sunshine. A brilliant week and the kids had a ball. We spent the mornings at the beach and the afternoons at the pool.
This was the first holiday when hubby and I got a fair bit of time relaxing. At the pool, the kids played happily in the shallow pool with armbands on while we sat and watched them. We did play with them some of the time, but they didn’t always want us to. They were quite happy.
I’m not complaining about any of this. Like I said, I am loving the age my children are at now.
But it makes me think.
Did I make the most of it?
Will I one day look back with regret?
Sometimes I worry that I will look back and wonder if I spent my children’s early years trying to ‘get stuff done’. If I was impatient and grumpy. If I should have left the laundry in the basket and gone to blow bubbles in the garden. If I should have ignored the mess and gone to build lego. If I should have skipped the cycle ride and gone swimming as a family.
I don’t subscribe to the ‘cherish every moment’ approach to parenting. It would be hard for anyone to cherish the moment on our recent holiday when both children lay on the floor screaming blue murder because they both wanted to go out of the lift first.
But still. Did I make the most of it?
What will my children remember when they look back on their childhoods?
What will they think of me?
Sometimes motherhood feels like one guilt trip after another.
I really don’t think I will look back with regret.
I do blow bubbles in the garden. I love nothing better than watching them leap around trying to catch them all. Sometimes I think our house must be identifiable for miles around by the veritable cloud of bubbles drifting above it.
I do build lego. I had forgotten just how much fun lego can be. The three of us have collaborated on some amazing fantastical creations and I couldn’t say who had the most fun.
I do take them swimming sometimes. True, not very often and hubby takes them most weekends while I cycle. Hubby lets them splash him and pretend to dunk him under the water. Hubby does tricks and lets them ride on his back while he swims. Hubby is great fun to go swimming with. Hubby is brilliant with them and they love their time with him… without me there. And I am a better Mummy after my cycle.
I am sometimes impatient and grumpy. I do sometimes fob them off because I have jobs that need to be done. I am human and life is busy.
I do my best and that is the best I can do.
I wonder if my Dad thinks the same.
I wonder how he felt that day we all refused to build a snowman with him.