I’ve had a Moloko song stuck on repeat in my head the last few weeks: “Give yourself unto the moment, The time is now. Give yourself unto the Moment, Let’s – make – this – moment – last…”
I don’t know about you but I can find it really hard to stop what I’m doing at times and let myself appreciate the moment – what’s happening in the present. It’s so easy to get frustrated with the kids for them not adhering to our precision-led timetables – the ones that help us manage our busy days – that we don’t share in their play. Like that natural sense of wonder that I talked about in my last post, kids also have an amazing ability to find the joy in any given situation. And they are so generous in sharing that with us – it’s just that we don’t always find it that convenient to partake in it.
When it’s bedtime and you’re chasing them around the room begging them to get in to their pyjamas while they’re jumping around shrieking, escaping the crocodiles circling below – or they’re wanting to help you cook when all you want to do is get dinner on the table with the minimum of fuss, time – and mess… When we don’t stop to look at that insect they’re pointing at on the pavement because we’re dragging them to that late appointment… We try to power through those distractions, knowing that with added delays, there’ll be tantrums or a melt-down of some kind somewhere along the line – and that will just be from you!… When you finally scream STOP and put an end to their fun, only moments later to regret that you lost the chance, once again, to share in their joy. Because it’s those moments – those breaks and delays in the routines – that sometimes lead to the sweetest and most lasting memories of happiness in childhood.
My husband is much better at that than me– at stopping what he’s doing, just turning up the music and dancing with the kids. I’m always the one, standing in the sidelines with my hands on my hips, reminding them that they’re going to be late for school; that they haven’t had a bath yet – that it’s wayyy past bedtime. And then I resent the fact that I’m the only one seeming to care about those things – that I’m the party-pooper, that I spoiled the mood…
I’m often left feeling that it’s much easier for the parent that doesn’t have to do so much of the doing – that doesn’t have to cope the next day when the kids haven’t had enough sleep, or that doesn’t have to explain to the teacher why their child is late for school, again. But then again, in being the time-keeper, the parent who does the majority of the ‘technical stuff’, you sometimes have to be reminded to leave a little room for spontaneity. Not every day can be about breaking routines and missing deadlines but without those moments, life would be pretty boring.
I’ve been thinking recently that perhaps we need to slow down a little – to try to pack a little less in to some of our days. That maybe, that way, we’d have a little more time to really focus on that one activity and enjoy it in its entirety. To pause – to take a break and do that puzzle with them, to join in that game, if only for a moment – to always take the time to look at our kids when they are speaking – and to really hear them. To, more importantly, want to hear what they are saying because it’s highly likely that it will bring us a little closer to that sense of wonder and discovery. To really be there – connected to them, not on our phones or tablets. To be there in the moment with them… Sharing in their joy.
It is our children who teach us how to play, not the other way round. But it is we who have to demonstrate to them, through doing it ourselves, the need to listen, to share, to participate. Because, it is in giving importance to those moments, that we show them how important they are to us. It’s the way we demonstrate how much we love them and that their voice is significant and that it should be heard…
So, even if that Moloko song stuck on repeat in my head is starting to drive me a little mad, maybe I still need to hear it – to let it remind me that next time the kids ask me to stop what I’m doing to give myself unto that moment – I need to make it last… Before it’s too late and is gone.