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Missing Out on Time with My Kids

I sometimes look at women in the 1950’s and feel envious. I know that sounds weird and anti- feminist. I am prepared for the hate mail to arrive. But that is really how I feel. It’s a simpler life that seems so appealing. The peace of being able to maintain my focus on my family seems pretty perfect right now. I always saw myself as a career woman, driven by success. But over the past six years, my focus has changed.

I am never caught up. Everything is so expensive. Student loans are out of control. And this school year has just added to the chaos. I find it hard to just enjoy time with my kids because I am always on the clock. So little time to get everything done before bed. And even then, no matter how hard I try, how many chores the kids do, something is always undone. Some part of the house needs to be cleaned or there is a pile of laundry that needs to be done. It’s never-ending.

The anxiety is high. Constantly high.

I rush through the day just to go to bed and wake up to do it all over again.

This morning the girls wanted to look at pictures of themselves when they were younger and it was painful.

Where has the time gone already? How are they growing so fast? I’m afraid that the years are going to fly by and I will have missed them. I was so busy doing everything that” needs” to be done that I missed the time to watch them grow.

The realization that they are not babies anymore is a struggle. I feel like I blinked and my oldest is suddenly able to do so much on her own. I am so proud but also sad. She takes initiative and wants to learn how to do everything on her own.

About two weeks ago her adorable two-year-old sister was very loudly demonstrating her displeasure with my unwillingness to accept her throwing her food across the room. My suggestion that she would have to clean it up was not aligning with her evening plans. In the middle of this battle of wits, one I wasn’t sure I was going to win, I faintly heard Ellyana say “Come on Emmy, mom needs help.”

When the tantrum was over, I emerged mostly unscathed, I was shocked.

These two young girls had emptied all the garbage cans around the house and taken all the trash to the curb for garbage night. Typically, they help, but they did it all by themselves this time.

I was proud of them for taking the initiative, but also sad that they are not babies anymore.

They are such good kids.

I started to wonder, do I focus on that enough? Or do I focus on the instances of poor behavior?
Am I giving them enough credit for all they do right?

Am I showing them that I am so proud of them?

Am I giving them the support I want them to feel?

Some days I feel like all I do is bark orders as we muddle through the few hours between school and bed.

“Hang up your coat, put your shoes away, set the table, play with your sister, do your homework, etc.”

I just want time to slow down a little, but it won’t. I don’t know how to slow down our lives. I don’t know how to make more time for fun. I feel like I have been in a constant state of stress for months.

Recently, I had to take a day off of work and this was when the lightbulb started to go on for me. Grocery shopping with that strong-willed two-year-old is, well, a nightmare. We are usually on a time constraint and every second is a battle to stay in the cart. Trying to keep her from opening boxes, throwing things out of the cart or putting things in the cart is exhausting. But on this day, it was completely different. She was a perfect angel.

What changed? What was different?

It wasn’t her. It was me. I was different. I wasn’t stressed. I wasn’t worried about the time. It didn’t matter how long grocery shopping took. I didn’t have a giant to-do list on my mind. I was patient. Instead of fighting her to sit in the cart, I let her walk and help. She loves helping.

We had fun. We laughed. And when we left, we were both in a great mood and I had not even broken a sweat. I focused on her silly personality and desire to help instead of trying to force compliance. I was calm. She is strong-willed, but also very sweet. She is full of amazing qualities. I am not sure I focus on that enough. I don’t want to break that strong will. It will get her far in life. I just want to be able to co-exist with it.

I want more days like that. I want more time to enjoy my children. That is my envy of the 1950’s mom. Not so much the fashion or the lack of dishwashers, but the time. The world appeared to be moving slower then. I long for that. I long for more time.

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