Many of the best tips on parenting help you to shift your perspective. Once you see things differently, you behave differently as well. As a recovering perfectionist, I am careful to add that it is important not to use this poem, or others like it, to point out our own short-comings, but to do better in the future.
Childhood Doesn’t Wait (Author Unknown)
I was sitting on a bench
while in a nearby mall,
When I noticed a young mother
with two children who were small.
The youngest one was whining,
“Pick me up,” I heard him beg
but the mother’s face grew angry,
as the child clung to her leg.
“Don’t hang on to me,” she shouted
as she pushed his hands away,
I wish I’d had the courage
to go up to her and say…
“The time will come too quickly
when those little arms that tug,
Won’t ask for you to hold them
or won’t freely give a hug.
“The day will sneak up subtly
just as it did with me,
When you can’t recall the last time
that your child sat on your knee.
“Like those sacred, pre-dawn feedings
when we cherished time alone
Our babies grow and leave behind
those special times we’ve known.
“So when your child comes to you
with a book that you can share,
Or asks that you would tuck him in
and help him say his prayer…
“When he comes to sit and chat
or would like to take a walk,
Before you answer that you can’t
`cause there’s no time to talk”
Remember what all parents learn
so many times too late,
That years go by too quickly
and that childhood doesn’t wait.
“Take every opportunity,
if one should slip away
Reach hard to get it back again,
don’t wait another day.”
I watched that mother walk away
her children followed near,
I hope she’ll pick them up
before her chances disappear.
Don’t read this poem and feel guilty for not meeting every need your child expresses. Parenting is tough and we all have days when we just can’t meet one more need. However, I love this poem because it offers us a chance to have a perspective shift from feeling burdened to wanting to find ways to be able to enjoy more of the precious moments with our kids.
I also think this poem applies whatever age our children are. When my kids were young I was battling depression, rage and serious marital issues. I know there were many days where I recognized the gift that my time with them represented. I wish that there weren’t as many days when I was the mother in the poem. However, when I focus on the times I didn’t parent the way I wish I had, my kids loose out again.
Hold the ideal of the poem in your mind, and strive for more moments when you are able to cherish your time with your kids. When you notice that you have been feeling burdened and not present and appreciative with your kids, see if there is something you can do to reduce your stress. Maybe that means asking your kids for help if they are older. Or see if your friends of family can pitch in. Maybe you need to ask your partner to take the kids while you take some time for yourself. Whatever you do though, don’t berate yourself for not cherishing every moment, which is unrealistic anyway. Just shift your perspective as soon as possible, and get back to enjoying your kids.