Today is my grandmother's 90th birthday. She died last August, and today I took my grandfather a Mason jar of daffodils and a few brownies. The view down through our valley was glorious. She always loved this view! (She lived on the hill above us; we live down in the valley. This is what life looks like from our deck.)
My grandmother had wonderful advice on child-rearing for me. She was an immaculate housekeeper with a keen attention to every detail of domestic life. Once she called me when Finn was a baby and said, in response to my sigh about the condition of my house, "if you have young children and a perfect house, you're not doing your job."
I never would have expected that from her, and it was so liberating--I am a natural perfectionist, and I needed this sage reminder.
Another time when Finn was around two we were visiting her and he started to put up a fuss about something and defy me. "Oh!" she exclaimed happily, "he is independent and has a mind of his own! That's what you want, you know!" Since she had raised three children who turned out to be great adults, I decided to look at his two-year-old self with new eyes: he was developing a mind of his own. Yes, that is a good thing!
(My aunt recently told me that when her daughters were teenagers and would gripe about not being allowed to do things their way, my aunt would say "you are so right...this is great, you're preparing yourself for living independently and on your own, and you have your own ideas about how you want things to be done. For now, you're here and have to do it this way, but I can see how ready you will be for your adulthood!")
And finally, after nearly every conversation we had about children and childrearing, she just said "you just want to enjoy your children...I enjoyed having children so much." I think this is such wise advice in a day and age when we seem to take parenting so seriously, with a hyper-focus on the future--on training them for adulthood, for their educations, etc.
Since then I have thought of her words often. I genuinely enjoy my children. They are clever, hilarious, fun, caring, and thoughtful people. I enjoy being with them every single day.* I do not just love them; I genuinely like them. Although its not a popular thing to say in Serious Parenting circles, my children are my friends! And I enjoy them now. I do think about their futures--who doesn't?--but I do not focus on that at the expense of today. If losing my mother at a young age taught me anything, it was that today is a gift.
To enjoy a child is to see the child for who he or she is right now, and to choose to relish that person....today.
(Yes, Annie is wearing red Dr. Seuss Chuck Taylors. Oh yes. I enjoy her shoes immensely.)
*That's not to say that you can't look forward to bedtime or running off to the coffee shop for some silence, or that every single day is roses and sunshine....we are all human. And some of us are introverts!