As I watch my kids play in our backyard, I am constantly amazed at how simple the joys of childhood can be. We have all heard slightly irritated moms comment that their child enjoys the cardboard box more than the toy that came in that box. It is understandable that a parent would feel this way. Money and high hopes laid upon a toy that instantly is less interesting than the brown packing material. But sometimes I think that I am overlooking the preciousness of the child in this scenario. To a child, everything is exciting, fun, and magical. A simple box can lead to hours of make-believe and joy. Why do I push so hard to make them experience something I deem important? All the while they are experiencing and celebrating every part of life.
This thought of the simple joys of children swirled in my head as I played with my kids outside on a glorious, fall day. Texas is hot most of the time so if there is a breeze, I will call it a fall day, even if I am in a tank top and shorts. The boys were practicing their karate moves on the trampoline. So I followed busy Pamela as she totted around the backyard. I watched Pammy as she picked yellow wild flowers (okay, they were weeds. Its all we have in our backyard) and brought them to me. She was so fascinated with the petals and the color. She even grabbed an old black bucket and began to collect all the flower heads she had ripped from their stems. She is so different from the boys.
As she played, I thought how cute it was that my sweet one year old was taking time to “smell the roses”. But something much more precious was happening. Pammy wasn’t pausing for a moment in her busy schedule to sniff a flower or two. She touched them, grabbed them, and crushed the petals in her palms. She squatted over the flowers and giggled as she gazed upon them swaying in the breeze. Pamela did try to smell the flowers, but she really just blew air on them through her nose. We are still working on that one. Lastly, she crammed a handful of flowers right into her mouth.
I stood completely stunned. My breath was taken away as I looked at my sweet little girl starring up at me with her big, blue eyes and that precious snaggle-toothed grin with yellow petals sticking out of the gaps in her teeth.
My heart swelled as I realized what my one year old daughter seemed to understand about life that I had completely missed. “Smelling the roses” is for adults who make themselves stop for an instant to look at nature’s beauty before hurrying off to their responsibilities. But children are so precious and wise. Kids pull the roses to them to hold, smell, and taste. They want to experience and love life so much that they smear it all over their sweet little faces. We complain when we have to wipe them down a million times. Heaven knows that Pamela needs a good scrub every hour of the day. But I don’t want to miss the value in these messy day to day moments.
I am not saying that kids should be allowed to make ridiculous messes or destroy the home. It is important for them to learn where they can be messy and where they can not. But when I see a mess that I have to clean, I want to remember that Pammy is only one. And I will teach her what is appropriate when need be. But by pulling that frustration of added work into my chest so I can keep it longer than I should, I am only producing irritation with my child and a lack of patience. And I do not want any part of that. Childhood isn’t about lessons learned. Motherhood isn’t just about getting a good score on my Mommy test when my kids turn 18 years old and we all watch to see if they can fly. Pamela isn’t just learning for the future, she is living now. And the best part is I don’t have to teach her how to experience life. She is already an expert. So much so, that I am learning from her how to really soak up the world and be in awe of its beauty, its scent, and its texture. Isn’t that a beautiful thing?
In my experience, children love in this same way. They don’t have a specific love language that they demand others follow. They don’t read how-to books or wonder if they are getting all the love they deserve. They use everything they have to love. We can learn so much from these little ones if we simply take the time to taste the roses.
You may be having a hectic day and think that I am looking at my children with rose colored glasses. So to be completely transparent, one of my kids is napping and the other two are playing sweetly outside the window I am sitting near. I am in a good place. But regardless of what state of mind I am in, I still believe that life is precious and should be celebrated. I also believe that allowing oneself to get frustrated and lose patience hurts myself as much as it hurts my children. The key is maintaining this positive perspective even when I need to discipline my kids. When Pammy opens up her pb&j and mashes it on her face before throwing it on the floor or when Delly poops in his underwear every single day during naptime, I can’t allow myself to be upset in my soul. Anger and irritation help no one. These challenges will be in the past one day and my children will soon grow up. I know I will not look back at their childhood and think about all the tasks I had to complete. And I definitely don’t want my kids to remember me as an impatient, angry mom. I want to enjoy every detail of this beautiful world God created. Surrounding myself with negative news or rude social media comments will never make me a better mother. But by immersing myself in the simple joys of life and blessings from the Lord, my strength and patience will be renewed.
But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Luke 18:16
If you made it this far, thank you for reading all of my ramblings! If you would like to read other posts about being thankful or enjoying life, check out Get Outside! and Thanks for Thanksgiving. God bless!