There are certain moments in life that you will never forget. More than that, you will remember them vividly for the rest of your life. It’s like watching a movie every time you think of that time.
Meeting my boyfriend’s kids was one of those moments in my life.
I was 23-years-old and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Not at all.
Just five days before the big meeting, I had packed up and moved 5,000 miles to live with him. The days since landing in the UK had been filled with trips to Ikea; the ensuing arguments over how to construct Ikea furniture and why on earth they would drill the holes in the wrong places; and some sleepless nights where I began to realize that I had taken a pretty crazy step in my life.
Normally we would only get the children every other weekend but because I made the excellent decision to move in August, they were coming to stay for 10 days. This week was to be their summer holiday with their dad and me.
When he had left to get them, I couldn’t settle. It’s a three-hour round trip to the pick-up point and I can honestly say that I was in bits for the entire three hours. I didn’t know if I needed a calming cup of tea or a stiff drink to settle my nerves. The kitchen was spotless, the washing was done, all I could do was sit and wait. Not even the dramatic woes of reality TV stars could distract me.
Finally, after what felt like days and not hours, I heard the car. This was it, the moment of truth.
The week went as well as could be expected but the subsequent three years were a bit of a trial. I should have known there had been some slight misunderstandings when the kids came bounding in handed me a card, “Dear Aileen, we hope you enjoy your stay in Daddy’s flat.”
I hadn’t thought much about that first day or the struggles of the first few years until recently when I wrote an article about parenting other people’s children. As I was reflecting on my journey and shelling out advice I began to realize what a long way we’ve come.
Now, I am not a parent. I am a part-time, step-something to two amazing bunnies that came into my life completely by chance. I will say though, I didn’t always consider them to be so amazing!
However, I should also tell you that I’ve learned a lot from my time with these bunnies. It turns out that the reason children enter our lives as babies is because we need to grow up with them. We need time to start figuring them out before they become full-blown, walking, talking, tantrum machines.
For those of us who aren’t so lucky, they enter our lives aged 7 and 9 and the best we can do is just roll with the punches.
And that’s exactly what the bunnies taught me to do – roll with the punches!
Children are amazing creatures. They are sensitive and astute, they feel injustice intensely and yet they can move on so quickly. They also do not care about your plan…not at all.
So, three things to remember as a perfectionsit parent (if you want to stay sane!):
- Embrace every emotion
- If you’re angry, feel it. If you’re sad, feel it. If you’re happy, feel it. No doubt some other emotion will come along soon so honour and embrace the one you’re feeling now.
- Lose the plan
- Plans simply will not work with children. When they’re hungry, they need to eat. When they need the toilet, they can’t wait. When they’re car sick, you have to stop and just be late to where you’re going. Instead of stressing about the plan going wrong, just toss the thing altogether.
- Be gentle
- This took me the longest to learn but is undoubtedly the most valuable lesson. Whether you have your own children, you’re in a relationship with someone who does, or it’s just you taking on the world solo, be gentle. First and foremost be gentle with yourself but also be gentle with the world around you.
This is slight departure from the posts I usually write but after reflecting on my journey, it seemed an important one to get out.
To read the article that got me thinking about all these things, visit guyvorce.com.
Until next time,