I was sat one morning in my own little dream world, as I often am, when my four year old asks ‘mammy when will you be happy when I spill something?’ I looked up to see an advert with a mother cleaning up the mess her kids had made with her 99.9% germ killing spray and a huge ‘only in the adverts’ smile on her face and I thought to myself about the false sense of reality it was painting in my child’s mind………or was it?
My heart sank as I realised the message I was really getting. Every time she makes a mistake; when she spills something or soaks the bathroom floor or covers herself from head to toe in sudocream, mud or paint and I get annoyed or shout, she hears the same thing I do ‘you’re not good enough’ and ‘it’s not ok to make a mistake’. The truth is, when she does these things she isn’t wrong or naughty, she hasn’t made a ‘mistake’, she’s a child. She’s learning and growing and my reaction to these things count, a lot. I’ve realised that my reaction to this kind of thing, which thankfully isn’t always the same, isn’t annoyance because of what she did or didn’t do but it’s because I’m tired, no exhausted and it’s my thoughts of having to clean it all up that causes me to feel annoyed. It’s because it’s another mess to clear before I wash up, start tea, put the clothes away, hover the floor, nip to the shops, you know the drill. But those eyes, those big blue eyes spoke to me that day, they said ‘I’m sorry I made a mistake’ and I went over and held her and told her that I was sorry I didn’t smile when she spilled things and I told her why. I told her that I make mistakes too and that it’s okay. It’s okay to make mistakes. When we teach our children we teach ourselves too.
We’ve all been brought up to think we have to get it right, it must be perfect, we can’t make a mistake and it’s wrong. In fact, when we make ‘mistakes’ is often when we learn the most about ourselves and the world, it’s how we grow and learn.
I’ve been working a lot lately on being more connected and less distracted and I’m becoming increasingly conscious of how my words and behaviour impact my children and form their belief systems and as always the perfect opportunity was presented to me to practice my new skills.
The girls were playing happily in the sitting room so I took the opportunity to get the kitchen cleaned up. I could hear squeals of delight so I thought all was well, we all know to beware the silence! Just as I was content that the kitchen was squeaky clean I opened the sitting room door to find two butt naked children rolling around in hundreds and hundreds of tiny white polystyrene balls; you know the kind that get everywhere, that cling to everything and are impossible to clear up! I took a gasp and just as my automatic ‘oh my god look at this mess’ was about to roll off my tongue, I paused. I looked at their faces, they were happy; they were absolutely beaming with delight! We’ve had no snow this year and Katy has been desperate for some, ‘look mammy it’s snowing’ she shouted throwing hands full of ‘snow’ in the air. My shoulders dropped and my smile widened ‘wow that looks like fun’ I said and I sat and watched them play. I left them for about an hour enjoying the snow, making snow angels on the sitting room floor with polystyrene balls in every orifice and it was amazing! It’s a memory I will treasure forever but it could have been so different. If I’d have chosen to get annoyed at the mess that day I would have been telling their developing, ever absorbing minds that it’s wrong to play, it’s wrong to make a mess, that everything must be perfect and I would have missed the chance to see my girls make perfect snow angels on the sitting room floor and pick little white balls out of their butt cracks!
Instead I made a choice. I let go of the need for order, I let go of the need to see my sitting room floor, I realised the mess was already made so they might as well enjoy it before I clear it up, which I’m still doing weeks later by the way!
Those two simple things have taught me so much. It’s ok to make mistakes, in fact I urge you too! We are so worried about getting it wrong that we hold back from the life that we truly deserve. The what ifs, buts and maybes stunt us from moving forward and taking action but don’t allow them too. What if you try something and it doesn’t work out? Then at least you’ll know that isn’t for you and you will be one step closer to finding what is.
Life with kids is messy, there is always something to clean up but it can keep, enjoy the moments, they are all you have. I’m quickly becoming aware that motherhood is so much easier when I’m in the moment instead of distracted out of it on my phone or in my head. I’ve set myself a goal, to be fully present as much as humanly possible with my girls; to stop and look them in the eye when they talk, not just nod an ‘aha aha’, to put the dishes down when my toddler pulls my trouser leg and gestures for my hand to show me something and to answer the 300 questions Katy asks about how the curtain got on the curtain pole! And you know what I’ve discovered? I’ve discovered that it’s these little things, that can so easily be missed, that make life so good. I always thought that was cheesy when I heard others say it, you know when they say things like ‘stop and smell the flowers’ ‘soak up the rainbow’ ‘feel the dewy grass between your toes’ bla bla bla……..but it’s not cheesy, it’s true. When it comes to those simple moments with your children, when you are fully present, they really are the best. When you give them your undivided attention you can see it in them, you can feel how happy they are. Now I’m not saying I do, can or will always be 100% present in every moment, it’s just not possible, I’ve let go of perfection, but I am consciously making myself fully present so much more and it feels great! I’m building so many more happy memories that I once would have missed.
The time has come to let go of perfection, to allow ourselves and our children to make mistakes, it’s time to roll around in the snow butt naked like you don’t have a care in the world! (Ok maybe not that last one but you know what I mean *wink*). It’s time to get connected and less distracted, it’s time to make ‘mistakes’ and to learn and grow from them. I’ve tried many things on my path to living my dream, none of them were mistakes, they all taught me valuable lessons and they all led me to where I am today, exactly where I am meant to be!
So this time I would like to say that I’m not sorry I made a mistake, I’m glad that I did.
With love and polystyrene balls,
If you would like to hear more from me please remember to follow my blog so you never miss a post and if you would like more inspiration on living a distraction free life I highly recommend you check out the Hands Free Mama blog, I rarely read one of Rachel’s posts without a tear in my eye; she is a true inspiration and has helped me greatly on living fully in the moment with my girls.