I was nannying this past Friday and I take care of 2-1/2 year old twins. A boy and a girl. Last week-end, he was playing outside on the trampoline with his mom and his sister and when he was getting off the trampoline, he fell in a weird way and broke his arm. All has been fine and he just can't use it. On the following Friday morning, he was coming down the stairs and fell. (Poor little guy. Talk about a rough time) I arrived in the middle of the meltdown. He was glued to his Dad, of course. Mom was gone and that left the little girl without the arms of a parent. She has really been needing the arms of her parents lately and she started having a meltdown when her Daddy couldn't hold and carry her. I went down to her and she screamed at me not wanting me. I knelt down to her, "I know you really really want your Daddy right now. I know you really are feeling upset and want him to hold you and pick you up. But your brother fell down the stairs and he is really scared and it hurt his arm again and he really really needs his Daddy to hold him and love him. Your brother really needs to be held by your Daddy because he is so upset and hurt. Your Daddy can't hold you right now. He will be able to later, but let's let your brother get the love he needs right now." She looked at me, her eyes all red and upset and filled with tears and said, "I carry you." (Which translated is for me to carry her.) And then she jumped into my arms and wrapped her little body around me. It was such a beautiful thing. She was able to listen to what I said and understand that her brother really needed to have his Daddy. She was able to see that even though she really wanted him, her brother needed him more and she let me comfort her instead. Kids have a lot of compassion and they can, even in times of need, set their needs aside and be loving and compassionate. I thanked her for being so kind and later told the story to her brother, so he got to hear, too. Kids get more than many give them credit for. They just need to be talked to. They just need people to take the time to explain things in ways they can grasp and they will often choose compassion. I saw it in my kids. I see it in many other kids. And I saw with her. It truly was beautiful.
We may live in a country that provides no financial support for mothers and fathers just having a baby. We may live in a country where companies push you to return to work as soon as possible after giving birth and even create an undercurrent of fear if you don’t. We may live in a culture that prioritizes consumerism and stuff and self-gratification over relationships. But even with all those messages saying your job as a parent is not valuable or important, I can tell you with all that I am, as a mom, as a human being, that you are important. That parenting our children is valuable. Our children need us. They most definitely need us.
One of the things I want to stress to soon-to-be parents is the life they lived before kids will be gone forever. When you sign up for parenting, everything, and I mean everything, changes. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself and recharge because you can't properly parent if you are running on fumes. You need time for supportive and connected relationships to help when parenting gets hard, exhausting, and when the end of the rope is one grip away. Because it happens .And we all need something that gets us out of bed each day besides the daily grind and earning that paycheck. But you can't have it all. Not all at once. You can't do everything, have everything, AND raise children well. They need your presence. They need you to say no to some of the endless options that tempt and entice our desires and instead say yes to them.