*So this year, I resolved to increase the happiness in my home. I’m using Gretchen Rubin’s “Happier at Home” book as a loose guide. March and April were all about Parenthood…*
I am not one of those people who always knew she’d have kids. I liked babies, sure, and kids were ok. But I just didn’t think I was suited to caring for them. Even as a babysitter, I was only ever in it for the money to get new clothes, not the kids.
I’m not sure what changed, but at 28 I suddenly decided I very much wanted to have kids. So I jumped right in and had them. As a result, both Budsie and Pixie were born at highly inconvenient times. There is no good time to have children, but 2.5 months before your wedding (Budsie) and 5 months before moving overseas (Pixie) is…poor timing. And sometimes I wonder if poor timing hasn’t been the theme of their lives ever since.
Because annoyingly, I have a habit of always doing big things at just the wrong time. Take law school for example. Whatever people say about the wonderful example I’m setting for the kids, or the way I’m tackling this challenge head on, the fact of the matter is that this was an easily avoidable challenge. Just go BEFORE having kids, rather than (hypothetically speaking) spending your twenties wandering about aimlessly. Had I gone before having the children, neither of the kids would have seen me fall apart over a bloody paper. Budsie would never have had to worry about me looking tired prepping for finals, and I wouldn’t miss school performances of Pixie’s because of some ridiculous class.
But most importantly, I would be more cheerful, the way I was before I went to law school. I used to be such a cheerful mum, but in the past two years, law school has sucked the cheer from my parenting. Everything is timed so carefully so that I have enough time to get work done that there is no room for lazy Sunday mornings playing LEGO or extra long stories at bedtime. Which makes me sad.
The challenge for March and April was twofold. First, I wanted to make more time. A seemingly impossible task, given the term I was having and my commitment to give A. more time, but it had to be done. Second, I wanted to make sure that the time I made was worth making. This meant setting aside my tired ass self, with the sometimes clipped voice and divided attention. It meant focusing on the things that were important to each child, and just forgetting about school completely.
How did I do: Not bad. Although April was crap.
1) I started alternating who helped me with dinner on nights I was cooking, setting the other kid up with some art project or LEGO adventure or what have you. I was finding it impossible to really focus on one kid and hear what they were saying when they were both trying to help in our tiny kitchen. Inevitably if Budsie is in a room, he takes over, which means that a) I never hear Pixie, and b) I’m constantly nagging Budsie to stop interrupting, ruining the fun of it all. But I want to teach Budsie to cook. Now that they alternate nights, I know WAY more about what is going on in Pixie’s little life, and Budsie is still learning (as a happy side effect, his piano has improved because he’s used his off nights to practice).
2) Similarly, I started alternating who I had deep conversations with each night. One kid or the other (but especially Budsie) wants a deep conversation about space, death, or a friendship problem at least a couple of times each week. I used to try to tackle these issues with both kids in the room as we were getting ready for bed. But it’s impossible to focus for the same reasons outlined above. Also Pixie again tends to be overlooked. Focusing on them individually, which I thankfully have the luxury of being able to do, has been super helpful.
3) I let some things go. As with A., I reasoned it was better to do a little worse at school if it meant the kids got more time with me.
1) I’m trying to be more interested in the things the kids like. But I HATE POKEMON. Good gods. And I’m terrible at pretending I don’t hate it.
What did I learn:
1) I’m still cheerful deep down.
2) I need more sleep to parent well (of course I knew this, but apparently I needed to re-learn it).
3) That Pixie loves cooking.
4) That Budsie has a crush on two girls in his class. :)