| Written by Ronnie |
For today's post, I was initially going to write about how much my boys have grown and changed this last year. But as I sat there staring blankly at my computer screen, it struck me that what I really wanted to do - needed to do - was to reflect on how I've changed this year as their mother. This is something I almost never do and I feel it would be most worthwhile for me to document all the things that I've learnt these past twelve months as a mother and parent.
I am now a mother of boys. In the past, I've always thought of myself as being a mama to babies and toddlers. But the boys are now boys. They are becoming, and have become. As I look back at their life albums from more than a year ago, it especially strikes me how much our Angus has grown up this past year and how he has completely lost that 'little kid' look about him. This has been a hard one to grapple with; deep down, I still think of them all as my little babies but reality tells me otherwise.
These are our glory days. In January, some university friends of mine came back from overseas and a group of us spent an evening in the city catching up over tapas and gelato. One of my friends described our time together at university as our 'glory days,' and his comment really stuck with me. It dawned upon me, late one night, that as much as I missed those carefree university days, this stage of life, these days of constant togetherness as a family unit - these are now our glory days. One day (and probably not too far into the future), the boys will hang out with their own friends and, one day, God-willing, they might even start their own families. But this time is ours. This time right now belongs to our family. I want to make it count.
It's good to focus on today. At a conference last year, an older and wiser woman spoke these words: "You can't do anything about yesterday. You don't know anything about tomorrow. But today. Today is a gift. Embrace it. Cherish it." Such simple, hard-hitting truth. No more guilt or regret about what I did or didn't do yesterday as a parent and mother. No more anxiety or needless worry about tomorrow. Instead, I am learning, constantly, that giving thanks for today is what matters the most.
It's okay to make non-conventional decisions that are right for our family. Almost all of Angus and Pete's closest school friends play soccer together - training on Wednesday afternoons and competing on Saturday mornings. Rick and I, however, opted not to put the boys into a sporting team yet because we didn't want to lose our Saturday mornings together as a family. Obviously, this was not an easy decision to make due to the potential impact it has on their friendships and, to be honest, the thought of them feeling left out still breaks my heart a little. However, we went with our gut and we both agreed that it was the right thing to do for our family at this point in time. Though a work-in-progress, I am gradually accepting that we shouldn't have to feel guilty about this.
One-on-one time needs to be scheduled. With the older boys starting school, it's become more important than ever before to spend one-on-one time with them. However, it's one thing to say that it's important and another thing to actually make it happen. Halfway through last year, I realised I needed to actually schedule it into my calendar otherwise it would simply remain one of those things I 'wanted' to do but never did. So I told Rick that I wanted to start taking Angus out for monthly lunch dates after church on Sunday mornings and he readily agreed. This year, with Pete also at school and Jamie in his last year of preschool, I've turned it into a weekly lunch date, but instead of just Angus, it's now Angus one week, Pete the next, Jamie the following, and back to Angus again. I take them all to the same place every week and it's simply been the perfect thing to do.
It's okay to be apart from the boys. This is something I've always known in my head, but every year, I grasp this reality a little bit more. It's okay to spend a couple of days each week working. It's okay to go out by myself once in a while, and leave the boys with their grandparents. It's okay to ask Rick to take the boys somewhere so that I can be home alone. None of this makes me a bad mum. Yes, it's okay. And the flip side of this - it's okay for the boys to be apart from me. As much as my heart yearns to be their sole protector, I have had to accept this past year (with two of them going off to school), that other people are capable of watching over them as well, and that it is good for the boys to learn independence away from us.
I have to stop comparing myself with other mums. Man, I have such huge respect for so many mums out there who do what they do. But at the end of the day, I am me, and I need to stop comparing myself with others. I need to give me a break and simply embrace me for who I am instead.
For those of you who have children, I'd love to hear what you've learnt this past year!
(You can read the other posts in this series here.)