It’s amazing how we can often try so hard to create perfect moments when the truly perfect ones happen when you least expect them, without any effort at all. It’s strangely ironic how life seems to work out and how we can either miss the magical moments all together or be completely spellbound by the beauty and wonder a single moment holds.
I am learning more and more that with kids we have to let go of all the certainties and take things in our stride. That life with kids is really a series of unpredictable moments, some of them full of wonder and excitement and some of them filled with meltdowns, tantrums, chaos and often complete and utter despair.
I tried to make a conscious effort to live in the moment this holiday, to be present in the small things and stop trying so hard to make something of every situation. I learned the hard way after a rather disappointing attempt at a Ginger Bread House, where I literally screamed at my kids from beginning to end because they were pushing the sweets on too hard and causing the whole thing to implode.
I was trying so hard to create this perfect memory of a perfect Gingerbread House when in actual fact I was too busy trying to control the situation that I barely noticed the fun they were having. Or should I say WEREN’T having after I took it a step too far and laid in to them about patterns and design. I swear every OCD bone in my body eventually had to take a step back and say, Its OK , its ok if all the candies get mixed and are not in a straight line. It’s OK that the chimney looks like a meteorite. Who really cares if the snow-capped trees are leaning on the house for support? It’s GOING TO BE OK!! *DEEP BREATH IN, DEEP BREATH OUT.
I know, what kind of mother even does that????
It’s especially exhausting always trying so desperately to create perfect memories when life shows up to bite you in the ass and show you how little control we really have over it all.
You may be asking, Have you really only just figured this all out woman? And no of course I realized this a good four years ago but I was freshly reminded this past week when our holiday was cut short due to a very sick little boy who needed to be nursed back to health.
We had spoken about our holiday to Betty’s Bay for weeks. Noah had a list of things we were going to do and places we were going to re visit since our last holiday there. I had visions of him running on the beach and splashing in the waves, swimming in the dam and playing with his friends. But on New year’s Eve day he came down with a very high fever and well, everything kind of spiraled out of control. We were told it was viral and there was no need for antibiotics but after 6 days he just wasn’t getting better and so we returned home early to get him seen to.
It’s really hard watching your child withdraw and not act like himself, suffering with high temperatures and missing out on all the fun he had dreamed and anticipated for weeks. In those moments it’s really hard to see the light and see the situation for what it is. It’s very easy to let the lessons and the magic in those moments escape us.
Looking from the outside now, this Inconvenience was a wonderful reminder of how many people love Noah and how much our family care about each other. It reminded us of how well we work as a team (tag teaming vomit buckets, syringes and suppositories, sleep shifts, Bovril toasties, wet cloths and cold showers) and how we would do anything for our children. It reminded me of the father I chose to co-parent our kids and how far he is willing to go to get his kids better.
These times of sickness also always remind me of how grateful we can be for doctors and medication, and ultimately for the money we have to afford them. (Even thought we spent a small fortune on the meds before our new saving were loaded about 4 hours later)
Life is a strange mystery at times and it can be exhausting trying so hard to make sense of all the blind spots, especially with the unpredictability of life with small kids. But if I’ve learnt anything this holiday it’s that the truly magical moments are in the small everyday normal life. The no-Bells and Whistles-moments in time where you realize that life can still be beautiful in all it’s upside down madness.
Although our perfect moments weren’t the mirror image of what was in my head, there were some precious memories made: Seeing Brody reach out to touch Noah’s forehead for sign of fever, the relief when a fever was broken and where for a brief moment he was able to play with his friends and jump in the water, taking Brody to watch his first movie and hearing Noah explain to him what was about to go down.
But the most magical moment for me had to be the night before we left our holiday and Noah who was sitting outside with a high fever spotted a shooting star. On the way home I asked him what he wished for and his answer is one I will never forget. I made two wishes mom. I just wished that I was better and that Holly’s finger would stop hurting very soon. I tried hard to see another shooting star to make a wish for Willow but I didn’t see another one. When I see another star I will use that wish for her What will you wish I asked him? That her foot will get ALL the way better so she can walk properly on it. (His friend Willow had burnt her foot badly two weeks before.)
You see in that moment my 4-year old son restored my faith in what truly mattered. He made me realize that although he likes fun and toys and excitement like every other 4-year-old, his priorities were so simple. His needs were so innocent and earnest.
It has also made me think back to sitting on that deck and I’ve realized I didn’t even make a wish. It has started to bother me, the more I think about it. It’s made me wonder: Have I lost faith in the magic? So much so that I didn’t even offer my wish to those beautiful open skies with conviction like I always used to? Where has that simple, magical freedom gone? How will I ever learn to get it back?
I think my Noah may have the answers I am looking for. He seems to have a beautiful understanding of what it means to live in the moment and take every moment by the horns. From now on I think I need to trust him to lead the way.
Next stop. Adventure land.