I am starting to get sick of reading article after article reminding us that our children are only little once and that we need to live more in the moment and treasure each and every second with them. It makes you think growing up is something awful and scary and having children who are bigger than ‘little’ is something to dread.
Well, I am calling BS on this as just another method to control women through guilt and fear. If we put out as a society that childhood is so fleeting and precious that every little drop of it needs to be savoured then how on earth does that make those women who are out working each day to put food on their tables and roofs over their heads feel? Or those women who want to escape bad relationships but can’t fathom the ‘shame’ that comes with having to out-source the care of their children so they can work to be financially independent. And don’t even get me started on those women who work because THEY WANT TO. Or even worse, those women who move to Australia to study and leave their children back home in the hope of providing them with a better future.
These women don’t spend all day ‘nesting’ at home with their children so does these mean they are missing out? Does this mean they will be plagued with the regret that is threatened by those warnings to ‘enjoy them while they are little’ or ‘this time goes so quickly’?
I wonder how much of this is related to our consumer culture of more, more, more. We always want more than we have and the time we have with our children when they are little, we are told, is not enough.
It affects all women. It’s not just those who are working or studying inside or outside of the home. It is stay at home mothers too, who are made to feel guilty for leaving the kids to their own devices while they get essential house-keeping done.
“One day you won’t have little hands tugging at your skirt asking you to play cars. Put down that washing and you won’t have regrets when that little hand is all grown up.”
Ok fine, but you know what feels worse?
Sending your kids to school with dirty, crumpled clothes or leaving those chores so that they will build up and now take you twice as long. Doing these non-child centred activities are part of motherhood and are just as important as getting down on the floor and playing with the kids.
Stop with the reminders that life is short, childhood is fleeting and each and every moment is to be savoured because one day, when those moments are gone, all that will be left is regret.
Let me share some dirty, little secrets that no-one really wants to face up to.
It’s so taboo that by actually typing the words I am preparing for the hate that might be thrown my way but you know what? I don’t actually care. The damage that these ‘seize the moment’ nonsense campaigns are causing is just way out of control and just serves to control women and their ambitions.
The secrets are:
Sometimes the moment is really, really crap and you actually want it to go quickly.
Sometimes playing children’s games is really boring when you ARE NOT A CHILD. At those times it’s ok to send the kids off to play with OTHER KIDS.
Sometimes older kids are actually BETTER than little kids. Yes, the fact you don’t have smears on your windows or toys in your bath means that you no longer share your life with little ones but guess what? You didn’t throw them out with the bath water, they are now growing (as is their divine right) into their own people and hopefully they don’t smear their toast across the windows anymore. If they did you would have to safely assume you hadn’t really taught them not to waste food. Stop making mothers feel guilty because they are SICK of wiping junk off the windows ALL.Of.The.TIME and aren’t goo-goo-ga-ga-ing over the vegemite artwork made by the little slipper-socked poppet who likes to hang around the windows.
And here is the big one
Sometimes being away from the kids is absolutely, bloody great! It’s relaxing, replenishing and restorative. It is a damn shame we are being programmed to feel guilty that we are missing out on the ‘fleeting’ moments of childhood just because we are not absolutely immersed in it all of the time and spend some of our time away from the children. I sometimes love going to work purely for the tea I can drink while it is still hot and the luxury of going for a pee whenever I want, and, by myself.
My love for my children is cellular, I love them with a fierceness that you wouldn’t want to take on. I enjoy their company, I sit with them during their fears and tears and treat them gently and respectfully.
But you know what I am most happy about? They know I love them.
Just because I don’t want to play blocks every single time they ask, or just because I cannot attend every single school event does not mean I am missing out and will one day regret this. It means I am living life as well as loving and raising them. I am teaching them to live their own lives and be their own people so in the process I have to do the same. What I see is a problem is making the kids my whole life because when they do want to branch out, what then? What happens to mum who is sitting around with nothing else and no memory of who she was?
Well, then the guilt will be theirs.
I want my children to have peace knowing that my love for them is boundless and unconditional but importantly, I want them to know my love gives them permission to grow up and that I am ok with that.
You know what? Amazing little kids grow into even more amazing big kids.
I am not dismissing the heart of the message, not at all. Mindfulness is a fantastic aim and a lovely way of living – if you can manage it. What I am against is the undercurrent of the message which is about guilt, regret and fear.
So my message is enjoy today but it’s ok to look forward to tomorrow as well.