Note: This column appeared in the Barrow Journal on December 22, 2011.
Last week we trimmed the tree, or, actually, my five-year-old trimmed the tree. I assembled it and put the lights on, and then he put on every single ornament by himself. He got very irritated with me if I tried to put one on. He wanted to do it all by himself.
I know what you’re thinking, and you are right. It’s not the most organized tree, but it’s still quite pretty. At least with the help of a stepladder the ornaments are not clustered at the bottom of the tree.
And this is when I realized something. Things are starting to get a tad…a smidge…a little bit easier around here. My boys are five and two-years-old. They have fleeting moments of extreme independence.
Since their birthdays in August, I’ve noticed that sometimes they play happily without me. They play pretty well with each other, but sometimes they take off in different directions. I’m still shocked when my two-year-old will go upstairs by himself to play with the GeoTrax. He is actually being good. By himself!
This is the best Christmas present that this mama can get: pockets of free time. I still have plenty to do, including the dishes, laundry, and write my column, but it’s wonderful to be able to write during the day when I’m not so tired instead of late at night.
Don’t get me wrong though. These pockets of time last twenty minutes at most, and the boys still keep my hopping. They fight, the two-year-old can be so fussy, and when I get time to myself, I’m frequently interrupted.
But I’m here to tell any parent with children younger than mine that it does happen! It gets a little easier. It took five long years, but it does happen.
It could also be that I’ve been more intentional about trying to relax. I try not to spend every night at my computer, and I always end the day with a good book instead of staring at my to-do list. Once a week I’m committing myself to movie night too. This might not seem like much, but until a few weeks ago, I had not sat down to watch a movie for pleasure in years.
I found out that my husband has been doing his own thinking on how we could relax. He surprised me by saying for Christmas he wanted to get us both a new pair of hiking boots. Day hikes in the mountains were a frequent recreation of ours before we had kids, and now that the boys are a little older, he wants to start again and take the boys with us.
I jumped for joy. Though I frequently take the boys out to parks, I sorely miss going hiking. We’ll have to stick to easier trails for our young children, but it’ll be wonderful to make getting into nature with the family more of a habit.
So we got our boots, and today we did our first “hike” at Ft. Yargo. (Aren’t we lucky that we live in Barrow County and have this treasure in our backyard?) On our inaugural hike, I learned not to expect much. The boys would rather throw rocks and clamshells into the water than actually move down the trail. The two-year-old tires quickly, and they both need a good supply of snack food on hand.
But it didn’t damper my enthusiasm. It’s just the beginning for this outdoorsy family.
I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful holiday. No matter how you celebrate, I hope it’s a peaceful, happy time for you. I hope there’s someone with you to snuggle up to on the cold evenings, and I hope you get some great gifts too.