It’s all relative

© Rotini - Yellow, Red, Green By Stilfehler, via WikiCommons

© Rotini – Yellow, Red, Green By Stilfehler, via WikiCommons

 

Back in the day, in the time I like to fondly refer to as BeKaS (Before Kids and Stretchmarks), a Good Day usually involved some kind of achievement along the lines of the successful negotiation of multi-million pound deal, or timing a journey along the M6 to miss the worst of the traffic. Such was corporate life. As parent I find that nothing much has changed – I still regard a day as Good when I feel like I’ve achieved something, it’s just that my priorities have shifted a little.

Yesterday was a Good Day in PoKaS world (Post Kids and Stretchmarks) – I replenished the tubs in my kitchen which house my pasta (sprials, spaghetti, penne, macaroni …).

How times have changed.

Honestly though, the completion of this simple task felt amazing. I have a bit of a fetish for buying pasta. I am physically incapable of passing the requisite aisle in the supermarket without a powerful magnetic force dragging me to face the serried ranks of wheat shapes before me, all begging me to lob them in the trolley and make a run for it.

Pathetic it may be, but I’m powerless to resist the charms of the various pasta shapes, and feel compelled to ensure home-stocks remain high and with sufficient variety to make me feel like a daring cook. (Hey, look at me, I can boil three different shapes of pasta … even as I write that I know it sounds daft. As if the kids could care less anyway, as long as it’s hot and has cheese on it.) Still, we all have to get our kicks somehow.

To run out of pasta would be a fail of monumental proportions. Consequently, my cupboard is stacked full of the stuff. Ages ago, when I was still firmly entrenched in BeKaS and my appreciation of time was skewed, I acquired some useful storage tubs to feed my pasta passion, and kept these replenished religiously after every shopping trip. These were Good Days too.

Until December 2007 when my daughter arrived and the concept of ‘free-time’ took on a whole new meaning. Thereafter, the crinkly packets just got shoved in the cupboard in favour of nurturing my crinkly baby. I worked hard to ignore the tubs that winked spitefully at me each time I ventured in.

Babies rock your world in so many ways. Like many new parents I discovered that some days just finding time to get dressed was a luxury. That was my Good Day right there. Refilling pasta tubs? Forget it. Of course, things improved with time, but the fragile family-management structure we’d achieved was disrupted again when my son arrived in early 2011.

Slightly panicky, I ring-fenced a precious half-hour each week for me-time – a little space where I could have a pee and a proper shower without having to break off to stop my toddler creating murals on her bedroom wall, or unpeel my newborn from his vest after an over-enthusiastic bowel movement. So Sundays became my Good Day. For a while. That was three years ago.

And yesterday, tub-filling once again became my Good Day. Life has gone full circle, and yet it hasn’t. The kids have changed my world forever and I couldn’t be happier about that. My daughter was colouring at the table; my son was engrossed in a game with his duplo. Both had batted me away when I offered to play. The independence of little people growing has entered my home.

As the dust settles on the frenzy of my early parenting years I can begin to fully appreciate the relativity of time. What seems important now, may become irrelevant tomorrow. But that’s okay. I’m going to live in the moment. Good Days will come and go, but the best days will always be the ones on which my kids were born.

 

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Borrowed Time

© Jorge Barrios (Own Work), via Wikimedia Commons

© Jorge Barrios (Own Work), via Wikimedia Commons

My little girl stayed up late last night.  While I pottered in the kitchen making a late dinner, she sat at the kitchen table, playing.  At 9pm she was due to go to bed.  I looked across and was about to usher her gently upstairs, when the sounds of her game arrested me.

She was playing with Lego.  Girly Lego, all pinks and purples, and jewel-like door knobs.  She had created a little house and garden, and had entered a world of complete fantasy with a handful of little Lego girls.  She played for fully 45 minutes, totally lost, and making the most adorable voice changes for each character.  I was entranced.

At 5 years old she has just started to get the idea that impeccable behaviour and a low profile can reap the benefit of a later bedtime.  I’m sure this was part of the story, yet there was something else too.  She was playing like she was on borrowed time.  As indeed she was, the Sword of Bedtime hanging perilously over her sweet head.  This ever-present possibility of her game being arrested made her play with a greater enthusiasm and intensity.  The game became more than just a fun thing to do.  It was a means to an end, and charged with excitement as a result.

It made me reflect on how I play with the children.

I’m usually busy (who isn’t!), and playtime is all too often something that is fitted in around other daily obligations.  As I stack blocks, play Princesses or build a den with them I’m having fun, but half my mind is often elsewhere, or thinking about how the mess being created is going to take ages to tidy up.  I feel like I’m short-changing them, and myself.  That’s not a comfortable acknowledgement.

Hmm, what to do?  Then it hit me.

Simple.  

Play like I’m on borrowed time too.  

They grow so fast, one day I’ll realise they don’t really want to play anymore at all.  My new resolution is to leave my adult mind at the door when I enter the play-zone, and access that excitement that comes from truly losing yourself in a game.