When Grace blew out the candles atop her mountain of vanilla ice cream last night, it occurred to me that at age six, exactly one-third of her childhood has passed.
I know I'm going to blink and suddenly my baby is graduating from high school. One day Grace will pack up her bedroom and head out on her own adventure, without me. The thought of this brings about feelings of pride, sadness, amazement, and sheer terror.
I tell the kids all the time that they need to stop growing. I say it with the most serious face, as if it were actually possible to freeze time. They like to roll their eyes and reply, "Ohhhh-kay Mommy" or "We just can't, Mommy. It's our job to eat food and get bigger and bigger and bigger." (Can I have that job?)
With time slipping through my fingers, here are a few parenting habits I am mindful of right now:
More hugs. I simply don't squeeze my kids enough. I want lots more big and cozy kid hugs, before they turn 13 and go limp or run away when I try to hug them.
More messes. Often I won't even consider activities like painting, play-doh, or crafts, because I cringe in anticipation of the mess. This is so lame. I am a Girl Scout for goodness sake. I want to have fun and make messes and make the girls help me clean up!
"Use your calm voice, Mommy." We constantly remind the girls to "talk it out" and "take deep breaths" and "use kind words" when they have a conflict or are feeling frustrated. A few weeks ago when I flipped my lid over I can't even remember what, Grace very sweetly reminded me that I should use my "calm voice." She's right.
Be present. I want to look my kids in the eyes more. I mean really see them. I get lost in my daily routine, in my iPhone, and in this "busy" space. I have enough time to accomplish all of my to-do's. There is nowhere I want to be except here, now, with my family.
After we sang the birthday song, Grace asked if we could build a fire and tell scary ghost stories. She was proud that she piled the kindling and struck a match all by herself. Happy birthday, Grace!
Okay, you can stop growing now.