People always talk about how kids grow up so fast, and how childhood is so short, and they do, and it is. But at the same time I just can't believe that this funny, thoughtful, kind and crazy kid has only been with us for six short years. Was there really a time when Espen wasn't part of our family? There must have been less laundry and more leaving the house after 7:30 at night, which sounds nice, but there would also have been less bedtime stories, spontaneous snuggles, helpless giggles and philosophical pondering from a busy little brain that always wants to know. Espen, thank you for bringing so much to our family, we are so happy you're ours.
It's mid-February, and one of the busiest times of the year for our family between Valentine's Day (with all that entails now that we have two kids in school!), Espen's birthday and a three-day weekend, so naturally what I want to write about today is New Year's Resolutions. What, we're not still doing those? Psha.
I only made two resolutions this year, and they are as follows:
1. Make the world a little better.
It is possible that it was just me (although I really don't think so), but didn't the second half of 2015 seem like a really dark and troubled time for the world? And I'm not just talking about Donald Trump running for office (ba-dum ching). Between the situation in Syria and the middle east, the global refugee crisis and terrorist attacks and all of the rhetoric and hate speech, I began to wonder what sort of a world is this to be bringing a new baby into. What sort of a world is this to be raising our little family in? I've already had to explain war, refugees, homelessness and the fact that some people aren't safe for children to be around to my sweet five year-old, and it hurts my heart to think about all of the hard conversations we have ahead of us. I so want the world to be the beautiful place filled with kind and generous people that my kids naturally assume that it is!
Then the thought occurred to me that if I want to see a change in the world, then I have to be that change. I can't wish that other people are going to be kind and generous without being those things myself. How can I expect other people to stand up for the things that are good and right in this world if I'm not willing to do that myself?
So this year (and hopefully for many, many years to come), I'm going to try to reach out more, give more, do more to make this world a little more like the world I want for my children, your children and everyone's children.
2. Make the time to play with my kids.
I have to admit that this one actually kind of sprang from a twinge of jealousy: if you were to ask any of my kids who is the fun parent, and who is the boring parent, then hands down, every time, they would say that my husband is the fun one. Which makes me the boring one. And guys, I'm not boring! I'm not! I'm just... busy. Although I'm here with the kids more or less 24 hours a day, seven days a week, I generally spend most of that time either trying to clean our put away our belongings, making or shopping for food or trying to eke out a little time for myself where I can clear my head and just breathe for 10 minutes. On top of all of the regular "home and family" stuff, being pregnant just makes me tired too! And so I find myself dodging requests from tiny people to play dollhouse or build Doc McStuffins' clinic or play Minecraft or boardgames, just so I can get to the end of the day feeling like I have accomplished something.
To be honest, I don't feel like it's my job as my children's mom to entertain them and keep them happy at all times, and in all things and in all places. I believe in teaching them to be happy in their own company, and to be creative enough to make their own fun without me having to do it for them. I believe in the virtues of being bored and having to problem solve their way out of it. But I also believe in spending time with the kids to create memories, build relationships, take opportunities to teach and just have fun together! And nothing in this world makes those little faces shine brighter than when I take the time to play with them (and put away my stupid phone).
I've already discovered that it doesn't take much. Sometimes it's enough to make a game out of getting them out of the bathtub, and sometimes 20 minutes of building Lego is all they really want. I spent five minutes making a puzzle with Gwen earlier this week, and she was happy as a clam (why are clams so happy?) after that. I let Espen teach me how to play Minecraft on the iPad (so not my thing!) a little while ago, and he still talks about it daily. I'm really learning that it takes so little, but means so much, so I'm planning to make this a longterm habit too.
Like the quote at the top of this post says, being happy isn't something you stumble across by chance, or are dealt by fate. It's a choice and and an action and a habit. So I'm choosing to make a few small changes that I know will make a difference for me.