why i let her stop and blow the dandelions

She’s still just a baby, after all.

True, she is Three. Years. Old. And she works oh so hard at holding up all three fingers at the same time.

But really, she is still just my tiny little girl.

enjoying the toddler years

It seems like she is so big and should have so much figured out and I hold her to such high expectations {too high of expectations, really} because compared to her 1-year-old sister, she seems so big.

But really, she is still just learning. Really, she is still just finding her place in this world.

And she will be for a long time.

And so I make a very intentional effort to let her be a kid.

letting her stop to blow the dandelions

Sometimes, we build a fort in our dining room just for the sake of reading a book underneath by the light of the flashlight.

Sometimes for breakfast, rather than strapped in and sanitized at the breakfast nook, I lay a blanket out on the living room floor and we have a Pancake Picnic. Yes, with syrup, and yes, with fingers. The blanket can be washed, the hands can be wiped down.

The memories… these memories are what last forever.

Do I want her to remember a childhood where mama was always chasing after her, picking up the crumbs? Where shoes had to be off, lest mud be tracked onto the freshly mopped floors? Where I never got down to her level and showed her how to twirl?

But really…

Look at how much fun we had making those muffins together, and witnessing her joy at eating them right out of the pan, even though some of those muffins spilled onto the floor.

The mud on those shoes? What if instead I saw those as a sign of a childhood well lived; the mud delivered after splashing in the fresh rain puddles and then running in to tell me about the roly poly she discovered.

And see how much she loves to twirl? See how those little blond curls hit her nose after each rotation? Watch, and really see, how her eyes crinkle as she laughs and as she spins. Listen, and really hear, her joy as she falls to the ground. What if you would have missed that for the sake of putting away those breakfast dishes?

Yes, there needs to be discipline and yes, there needs to be attention on the chores and the clean and the kids and the food.

But what if I actually let my kids live in our home?

Rather than always “trying to stay on top of things” and fold the laundry and wipe down the counters and wash the dishes and make the beds and make the food and keep them spot-free and put together… what if I got down on their level and played with them?

Because that is where the memories lie. They are not going to remember whether you wiped down the counters that day, they are not going to remember if you got all of your errands done, they are not going to remember if the pillows were perfectly fluffed on the couch.

But they are going to remember a mama who was willing to lay on the floor with them and build a tower. They are going to remember a mama who, when reading books developed voices for each and every character. They are going to remember a mama who saw a blizzard and rallied the troops to head outside and create an ice cave.

I want my kids to know that they are free to be kids. I want them to know the empty space in a day where creativity lies. I want them to know what it feels like to hold handful of dirt as it spills through their fingers.

playing in the outdoors

Because these memories, these building blocks, these will form those oh-so-important cornerstones of our relationship. These memories, these moments, will teach my babies the imagination it requires to build a spaceship out of cardboard moving boxes, the feel of belly-laughter from jumping onto a tower of pillows, and the love of a mama who celebrates with them.

She is only my little baby girl for so long, after all. This too shall pass, after all.

And so when we go on our family walks around the neighborhood, I remind myself to let go of my plans, my timetable, myself. Because she stops to twirl. She stops to kneel and examine the ants. She stops to gather up the dandelions. She rejoices at finding the perfect one to toss into the wind, takes a deep breath with her whole entire body, and blows the dandelion.

enjoying the moments with my toddler

And when I look at my watch and see that we’ve been out too long and she’s walking too slowly and it’s almost dinnertime and I still have laundry to fold and emails to answer and letters to write and child you walk so slowly, I silence those demands.

I remind myself that this moment, this moment, will become a memory. And I stoop down and examine the ants with her. I look over and memorize her tiny little fingers pressed up against the sidewalk, smudged with dirt. I scan her face and remind myself memorize this…memorize this… all too soon it will just be a memory.

Make it a memory worth remembering.

Because she is just my little girl, and I want her to know that I enjoy her, that she is free to be herself in our home, that she can play and get messy and make memories; that we are in this together.

And so I get down and build a fort.

I sit on the carpet and hold her just for the sake of holding her.

And I let her stop and blow the dandelions.

xoxoxo
~Sarah

Comments

  1. says

    Many children are robbed of childhood today. One of the best things we can do is let them be children. I’ve spent many summers at Young Life camp and I love it because we create surprise and wonder for high school students and let many of them be kids for the first time in a long time.

    • says

      Oh, Ali- you’re speaking to my heart here~! Did you notice that my girl is wearing a YL t-shirt in those pictures?! My husband was on YL staff for these last 5 years- a mission that is very near and dear to our hearts. I totally agree with you- kids have to “grow up quick” so often these days whether because of expectations placed on them or because life requires them to… I love how YL does such a good job of stepping in to that through relationships and humor. xoxoxo