So there we sat- four young adults discussing an upcoming event while our children played in the next room only five feet away. The noise of four kids playing was easily heard; the sound of a Disney movie playing, the rustle of plastic toys, mixed with some squeals and light thumps. After about 30 minutes, I discovered that Firstborn had taken cover, realizing the ‘big kids’ outnumbered him. He had climbed into the very small toy bin under the nesting table after removing only half the toys. I have no idea how he fit in there. Furthermore, I have no idea how he was soon joined by the other nearly-two year old in the box. There is never a foxhole too tight when you are in the middle of a fight. Also, never underestimate the abilities of two year olds.
As I enjoyed an adult conversation and held Secondborn, my ears perked to the noise of the kids. 1…2…3… not four. I looked over at Hubby with that ‘Where is our son?’ eye shift. He got up quickly and after about 15 seconds we all heard a shout that could only mean a wild animal was in the house or Firstborn had done something new. Sadly, it was the latter. A second scream of “Oh! Gross! How did you even- NO! Sick!” was followed by “Honey! Immediate bath time!” I smiled sweetly over my burping bundle of newborn and inquired what on earth our perfectly behaved future joint academic-athletic scholarship holder could possibly have done. Apparently the absence of a sippy-cup prompted him to open the bathroom door, climb up to the throne, launch half his body weight over to balance his stomach on the rim, and cup toilet water into his mouth. I’d like to reiterate he has NEVER done that before and hopefully never will again. (I’ll allow time for your laughter here.)
As we rushed Firstborn upstairs, the visiting father of three asked a very important question. “Was it flushed?” God bless him. That was precisely what I needed! In the balance of “Seriously? This is my life?” and the embarrassment of such a horror happening with guests over, fellow sojourners on the mission of parenting real children extended grace. It was the perfect ‘it could be worse’ moment. Apparently with multiple potty trained children in the house, flushing can be an issue. As we started herding the children for bedtime observances, Hubby and I juggled the bath and bedtime routine. Somehow the four of us managed to continue a conversation through this…we’re used to it. There is something wonderfully comforting in realizing that someone else is experiencing something similar and can laugh about it.
Firstborn had provided some life application to an important lesson his grandmother repeated often: Timing is everything. He used his decoys and my distraction to try out something new. While today’s culture might encourage his resourcefulness and lack of interruption that is not how things work in this house. He has no problem handing us empty cups, make no mistake. Still, he seized an opportunity and dealt (smiling) with the consequences.
That’s not a bad lesson to learn from my dear Firstborn. While he was guzzling grossness, we two couples were planning to launch an endeavor we feel strongly about. It will require a major commitment of time, preparation and planning. Frankly, it would be easy to pass the buck and let someone without small children take on the task. I often find that the task of mothering small children is so encompassing that it is easy for us to devote our time and attention to them. While this is appropriate, we can also feel like we lose our enthusiasm, skill sets, and perhaps even confidence in the meantime. I sometimes fear that in 20 years I will look back on missed opportunities and realize an ability to quote every word to every VeggieTales video in character voice won’t make up for it. Once again, we are finding the balance.
There is something wonderful about sharing a meal with friends who also have kids. Whether it is a lunch date at a fast-food place with a play scape, a park, or a sit-down dinner, balancing the chaos of child-rearing with our own identities is nice to do in groups. There is something to be said about the herd mentality. (Oh, sorry academics… ‘group dynamics’ and ‘communal activities’.)
Time is precious because it can’t be replaced. I fight the urge to spend a morning in climbing Mount Saint Laundry or doing dish triage in favor for chasing Firstborn around the living room and watching him discover new things. As always, finding the balance is a constant process. This year I’ve decided that the things I claim are priorities will get the time they deserve. I’ve begrudgingly used nap times to work out and learned to do multiple things at once. 3am feedings are not for facebook until the daily scripture reading is finished. (No one posts much between 1am and 4am on weekdays anyway.) I set timers and thereby set limits. I’m now setting timers not only for chores, but also to devote 10-15 minutes to my children without interruption. Phone calls, dryer buzzers, and dishes will have to wait until my playtime is up. No work until I’ve finished my playtime!
How many opportunities do we miss because time will be limited and we fear feeling overburdened? How many times have our priorities slipped because our schedules are full of ‘good things’ that took time away from the most important things?My new planner already has a full first month. I also had to sit down and schedule out the mundane (like putting away laundry and mopping) to see where my time was going. I don’t want to waste my most important commodity. If I should strike while the iron is hot, I should first be aware of where the iron is and how hot it is. Hm…I should also pencil in ironing on today’s list.
As I look back on 2011 and 2012, the time that flies by is marked less by big events and more by time spent with people we love. Most of my best friendships were forged during a time that I was ‘too busy’ with a job, child, or PCS. 2013 will be a year of great things. I will take the time to see to it…as I double check the toilet seat. That is worth taking the time.