It all started with the cooking of zucchini roll-ups.
What are zucchini roll-ups, you ask? Well, they are – in short – an attempt to introduce one new meal each week to my family’s bellies, and – in long – the worst, most fiddliest, most I-DON’T-HAVE-TIME-FOR-THIS-RIDICULOUSNESS meal I have ever, ever attempted to make. The problem is that I never read recipe instructions before committing to making something new. I just look at the picture and think, That looks good. That makes the cut. Put it on the list.
The second problem is that Ella grows horns at 4 pm most days and these horns don’t disappear until I plonk her in the bath at 6. The Horns make her wail like a dying person if she is not held by me, or attached to me somehow. The Horns make her cry mummymummymummy like there are absolutely no other words in her sweet little vocabulary which would appropriately express what specifically she wants. The Horns make her throw herself on the ground regularly in a full-body, full-blown freak out.
Two hours were spent in that kitchen. Two hours dolloping tiny spoonfuls of magical cheese mixture onto individually char-grilled slivers of zucchini while Ella screamed and wailed relentlessly. It was past 4 pm, you see. Not even Peppa Pig could diffuse the situation.
I went to bed that night feeling awful. I cried about the words I growled to her and the way I shouted. I regretted the whole afternoon. And I know – we’ve all been there, at that moment we snap. While we would all admit the joys of parenting far outweigh the challenges, that certainly doesn’t mean the challenges do not spread us thin and bring out the worst in us.
I vowed to myself several things after that kitchen episode. First, of course, is that I’m never making zucchini roll ups again, especially since after all that agony, Ella took one bite, screwed up her face, spat it out and had Vegemite on toast for dinner. Most importantly though, I took a conscious, even-when-it’s hard-and-I’m-all-used-up Vow To Remember.
When my child is walking too slowly, I need to remember that her legs can’t go as fast as mine.
And just because my life is dictated by the pace of an adult world, doesn’t mean my child’s should.
When my child stops every three metres to inspect a flower, pick up a leaf, feel the grass, I need to remember that hers is a world of wonder and newness.
And just because my eyes have become immune to these tiny flecks of beauty, does not mean hers should be.
When my child spills her drink or drops her food, I need to remember that accuracy comes with practice.
And just because I get irritated with myself when I make mistakes does not mean my child should be subjected to the same unreasonable standards.
When my child wants to be near me, wants to be involved in what I’m doing, wants to feel close, I need to remember that connection is a basic, primal human need and – even when it’s not practical in that moment – it’s mostly always more important than whatever I’m doing at the time.
And just because I have learned to live with less attention placed on me and my adult ways, does not mean my child should have to yet.
I need to look at my child who won’t be small forever, and say to myself:
This child, not yet an adult, she is so little.
Let me give her the patience and freedom to grow and learn.
Let me remember she values my opinion of her: what I say and how I treat her matter.
Let me speak words of kindness because she will begin to repeat these words to herself.
Let me love her without conditions, without restraint.
Let me love her for who she is.
She is a child.
And one day, I will look upon her and her adult ways and wonder where on earth she went.
Sharing a few pictures from our little Christmas card shoot – oops I just said Christmas – taken by my father-in-law who is a mad-keen and very talented hobbyist photographer. And he has the most amazing lens collection I spent a good chunk of the morning drooling over.
I used to think posed photo Christmas cards were so tacky and self-centred, but now they seem – to me – another beautiful way to look back upon the changing seasons of my family’s lives. To reminisce. To preserve the memories each year and each phase brings with it. Another new tradition I loved creating.
And since we’ve just gone and blown the whole no-mention-of-the-C-word-until-December thing, I may as well just slip this in.
Snowflakes and twinkly lights have accidentally found their sweet little way into our home. And they are making me so happy.
Oh, and lastly.
Lord almighty, they’ve invented Happy Bubbles. And now the world is complete.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend.