My children are 13 and 10 years old now. My parenting has slowly evolved into a much less gentle and nurturing attitude. I more or less set boundaries and as long as my kids are within them, they don’t need me nearly as much as they used to. I’m here to guide and correct them when I need to, but they don’t need me to help them make every single decision daily. They can dress themselves, fold and put away their own laundry, help with dishes and other housework, do their own homework with little to no help from me. I hadn’t realized it until recently, but I had lost touch with a softer, gentler side of myself for awhile. We got a puppy about a month ago and it’s almost like having another newborn/toddler/defiant teenager in our home. I’m up at night with him, I’m having to keep my eye on him every waking moment so he doesn’t cause too much trouble. We’re potty training. But, I snuggle him. I bathe him. I train and praise and correct him. This morning, at about 4:30am, Adam had gotten up for work and Oliver (our puppy) decided it was time to wake up too. I tried to get him back to sleep, but it wasn’t to be. Adam smiled down at Oliver and me in bed and leaned over and kissed my forehead. He told me he knows I’m exhausted, but I’m never more beautiful to him than when I’m loving and caring for a small being, whether it’s a child or an animal. I thought about what I must look like through my husband and my children’s eyes. I so badly want them to always think of me as a patient and kind wife, mother, woman. I had let myself get lazy with those things because my husband and kids rarely require the levels of patience and softness that small children or puppies demand. I am definitely appreciating how self sufficient and well behaved my children have become, and I look forward to when Oliver will sleep through the night and not need me to watch over him 24/7. This has been an eye opening experience, though. I’m going to try to hold onto the good things in me that Oliver has brought back out. I’m going to work on keeping my ability to remain calm and patient with frustrating loved ones when there are moments that require it. It’s like exercise. I had let my patient, gentle, soft “muscles” atrophy so that when they were called upon to be used, I didn’t have the strength that Oliver has given me back.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re feeling cold and impatient and in need of some help to open your heart, go spend some time with a puppy or a small child!