Cereal crunched into the carpet. Smudgy handprints on the walls. Tupperware containers tossed about the kitchen. Legos waiting perilously on the floor to cause intense pain to an unsuspecting victim. Any mother can relate to one or many of these occurrences, that can often happen daily. They are reminders of those little blessings that are living amongst us; and, while I absolutely believe we must faithfully teach our children responsibility and care and respect for our homes and possessions, these daily reminders of life with young ones can often cause us to respond in a way that doesn’t make our kids feel like such little blessings.
Being a person who is quite fond of organization, tidiness, and uncluttered living, becoming a momma has taught me quite a lot about the flexibility and grace I need in my everyday. I am continually learning to let her be little. For quite a while I struggled to say “okay” when she wanted to help me in the kitchen because all I thought about was the mess I would have to clean up afterwards. I didn’t often say “yes” when she would ask to get paints out because I was paranoid we would stain our rented apartment carpet. I would stress out if there were “too many” toys out at once. Notice my focus here: me. I was living with an attitude of what was convenient, preferable, and simpler for me. I wasn’t encouraging my Little to help. I wasn’t creating an atmosphere for her to learn and grow and imagine. I wasn’t letting her be a kid!
Now, hear me. Our home has never been a place where snacks must only ever be eaten in the kitchen, you must wear fully body coverings to use markers, or where our kid sat sadly in one spot because she was afraid to mess anything up. We have always lived in our home. However, I came to a point, by God’s grace, where I realized that my desire to keep a clean, organized, and always presentable home was becoming the reigning selfish desire over enjoying the fun of having a kid!
Shifting my mentality in this way, learning to practically love my Little more than myself, has not only served to deepen our mommy/daughter relationship, but it has given me the gift of experiencing more things with her firsthand and making even more treasured memories.
Now, one of my favorite things is when she is in the kitchen with me. We chat, we jam out to our favorite tunes, and it has taught her to be such a thoughtful, patient, and productive helper! I think she’s going to be quite the chef one day.
I love pulling out the paints and watching her creativity flow. I spread out a mat over the table, put an old shirt on her and let her inner Picasso go wild.
I don’t start putting toys away if she has several things out at once, but rather, I just enjoy sitting back and watching her imagination run for a while. My husband and I teach her responsibility, care, and consideration, but we also want to just let her be 3!
It’s so easy as a mom to sometimes get wrapped up in our to-do’s of the day or our desires for how we had planned something to go, that we miss sweet opportunities with our kiddos. We have the idea of how we want things to run, at what speed we desire them to run, and what result we want to see happen, that we shut down our kids creativity, our kids desire to help, or our kid just being a kid.
Please don’t hear me saying any of this as an allowance for our kids to run rampant in their disobedience and sinfulness, but rather, to cherish every stage with our kids, to encourage and foster an environment of learning, creativity, and adventure, to take the opportunity to show them how to do laundry or let them help you write the grocery list or let them rip up the lettuce for the salad. To soak up every bit of our kid’s growing-up. To smile when you crunch that 500th cheerio under your foot, thinking how one day they won’t be there anymore. To enjoy the jam session they put on with their make-shift tupperware drum set. To treasure these precious creations that God has given us to love.
Let them be little, my friends. And just invest in a lot of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers.