I hope you agree there are pleasures of parenting, even when it’s been a trying day.
For me, today is that day. It’s been raining, we’re stuck in side and we’ve been up since 5.30am. The toddler tornado has left nothing in its wake.
I scan the room looking at the crumbs on the carpet, Thomas the Tank Engine and friends have crash landed off the tracks. The puzzle pieces are strewn over the floor along with pieces of paper and crayons. Books are spread and splayed across the couch. I must have sighed. Very loudly.
Then I feel a touch.
Small fingers grasp at my fingers and as I look down, I lock eyes with the tornado. He gently tugs at my hand and as I bend down and rest on my knees, he says “happy face, mummy?”
I smile. These 3 little words of his make me forget all the other thoughts; the worries whittle away and instead I focus on this little pleasure.
It makes me think, Yes! This is hard and while I’m not in love with the job; the endless cleaning and washing, planning and cooking nutritious meals only to have it picked through, I am Truly, Madly and Deeply in love with this little person.
I’ve been reflecting on the year that’s been and as the images pass through my mind’s eye, it’s the little gestures that stay with me the longest. As much as it is the toughest, most demanding job in the world where tears can flow plentifully, I choose to focus on the pleasures of being a parent.
“Life is made up of small pleasures. Happiness is made up of those tiny successes. The big ones come too infrequently. And if you don’t collect all these tiny successes, the big ones don’t really mean anything.”
— Norman Lear
I had a great conversation with my husband about this recently, where we shared which were our favourites. I don’t have a complete list as it’s likely it will keep growing, but these are the gestures that get me every time;
When I’m having a bad day and my little one turns to me and says “happy face mummy?” I’m reminded of what’s really important and smiling, even a fake one, triggers our bodies to release endorphins. These happy hormones also help reduce stress.
When I’m sitting on the floor, in a seat or on the couch, my little one climbs in my lap and sits and leans into my curves. Sometimes we just sit together, sing songs or nursery rhymes or we play a game of tickle, and it’s all within an embrace. Touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding and health.
When my son shouts with glee and claps his hands every time we offer his favourite foods or we play his favourite games. His easy joy is an instant mood lifter.
When my husband plays ‘funny faces‘ with our son. I love watching their interaction and their joy from making faces and copying each other. I now understand that mirroring helps with their connecting and also in our little one feeling more self-aware.
When there is music playing my little one breaks out his dance moves, using his arms and legs to really get into the music, that I can’t help but join in. This is my version of mirroring with him.
When my son says “hi” and waves to every stranger on the street. He could be offering free hugs soon.
When we’re lying in bed at the end of the day and my little one turns to me and says “mummy kiss“. In the words of MasterCard, Priceless.
These get me. Every. Single. Time. They’re instant mood lifters and they’ll stay with me in my mental image reel until I’m wise and old.
How about you?
What pleasures in parenting do you have and what tiny successes have you been collecting?