Here in Kansas City we are sick of winter! We just had another round of ice and snow last night and many of us are beginning to think that global warming doesn’t sound that that bad of an idea after all.
As I was grumbling around in my head this morning, wondering when we will see an end to this weather, it occurred to me that this is kind of like parenting. While we are “in a stage” whether that is potty training, transitioning a child into their own bed, whining, a child wanting to be carried constantly, a child who never wants to be carried, or whatever… it seems like it will never end. We rationally know that it will end sometime, but at any given moment in that stage, it can seem endless. But, here’s the thing I don’t think most of us really think about (it took me into child #2 to really believe it):
When the last time of whatever happens, we won’t know it’s the last time. We remember lots of first’s, but very, very few last’s.
That sounds kind of like a “duh” until you really think about all that it means. First, it just reinforces the idea that a behavior might end tomorrow, next week, next month or next year and while usually it’s a good thing we can’t see into the future, sometimes just the not knowing makes us feel more discouraged and pessimistic than we really need to be.
Secondly, it keeps us from appreciating the good things that are in that moment. So, even though I was a bit testing when my 4 year old kicked me awake (while she kept on dreaming) when the day comes that I realize she is officially sleeping in her bed then I can guarantee you that I will immediately feel sentimental about all the cuddles, snuggles, giggles and closeness existed right along with the inadvertent kicking and whacks to my head in the middle of the night.
I’ve decided that even with the most miserable stages whether it be potty issues, whining, hoarding, stealing, lying or whatever there are unique positives at that point in time that we need to consciously make ourselves appreciate. Admittedly, sometimes those positives are hard to find but if we don’t look and just focus on getting to an end, we will not only miss the good stuff along the way (and burn out pretty quickly) but we also run the risk of more willy nilly parenting where we just get behavior focused and forget about the process of parenting that in the long-term teaches so much more and gifts our children with things like empathy, impulse control, the ability to regulate their emotions, trust, etc…
Okay, so as I was typing along here, my 4 year old says to me, “Mommy I know what we can do outside when it gets warm. We can play O. and Mommy and car.” She then went on to explain that this game is when she sits up on my shoulders and I run around the yard like a car with her driving me. (no, I am not making this up, she really said this just as I was writing this blog)
It makes me think that we need to focus on the positives in the present because there is more junk and more joy coming along with the next stage, whatever that may be.