The Last Chore of the Day Isn’t – by Annita Woz

caelinpinkThe second kid’s baby book is as empty as a church parking lot on a Monday evening.

My second daughter came about 18 months after my first and there just didn’t seem to be enough time in my day to do her babybook justice.  My alternative to the babybook is what I am holding in my hand. It is a planner with a month-at-a-glance theme and I have pulled it off my shelf knowing that I had written tidbits of things that my second child had said when she first began to talk. 

Not being big on grabbing the video camera since I usually couldn’t find the thing, and then the battery was likely not charged, I had captured with my pen instead of  film,  the funny moments and little observations about my girl on this calendar.  I wrote them in as they happened with hopes that it would be an acceptable stand-in when someday she would flip through an obviously empty baby book and give me that look that said, “I bet Jaedyn’s book is all filled in with good handwriting and everything.”  

January had an entry almost every day. We won’t discuss here the rest of the calendar year.

Little things were scribbled in like the note where she says, “I do it, ” when she wants to put on her own socks and shoes. And scribbled underneath it says,  “she smiles big and is so proud of herself when she gets them on. ” I did not write down how long that process took or how hard it was for me to hold my temper when we were already late for the doctor’s appointment.

Mid January was another entry, this one from bedtime.  In our house we take turns putting the kids to sleep at night.  It gives each parent a half an hour of alone-time every other night and the one who gets to do the bedtime routine also gets some special time to hold tiny hands and see how much long legs are currently stretching out of pajama cuffs. 

On January 12th I noted that she seemed to be in a pattern of gesturing coupled with chattering, using her new words primarily when we were sitting by her bed at night.  In those few minutes, she often told us more than she had shared all day long.  I wrote, “She loves that we listen,” and had a little flashback of the content look in her eyes as she stared into mine while her head rested on her pink princess pillow as I read the entry.  She knew that I was not distracted by making dinner or some tv program and she took advantage of my quietness to fill her mommy bedtime time moments with her growing vocabulary.

I did not write down that every night I regretted not giving my children or my spouse more of my ears during the busy day.  And I didn’t write down that after those evening  bedside chats,  I would hear myself make a promise that I would be a better listener during the next day.  I certainly didn’t write down that I remembered making that same promise for weeks and couldn’t quite measure up to my own goal.

Late in January,  I had penciled in a note on the calendar that she was “having trouble adjusting to dad putting her to bed at night and she made him sit next to her by the bed”.  I did not write that it crushed Daddy to not be allowed to hold her on his lap and rock her to sleep on his chest as he had done since she was a newborn. 

I did not write down in her book, but I know it to be true, that my husband had taught me that bedtime is not the last chore of the day but instead it is the last chance to be with kids and hug them and hear their little stories about how they saw the world that day.

Thankfully, kids see and hear what parents do from their own perspective.  Mine do not know that bedtime is a time for grown ups to leave a hectic day and recharge for another responsible morning. 

Without jobs or bosses to please, kids focus on their most important decisions, like how long they can make the bedtime routine last- and these decisions are taken very seriously- as if they are choosing which career path to take on the road to growing up and they will or will not get the promotion to tooth fairy age unless they choose wisely.

My children see bedtime as stealing them away from time with their mom and dad and to them, perhaps to all children,  time is not measured by clocks or calendars but by how long the final hug  lasts when they are being tucked under blankets before the big light is turned off.

A. Woz

Child-grower

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One Response

  1. As a mom with grown kids, I applaud what you are doing. Keeping a journal or a baby book current is not as easy as it sounds, because daily chores absorb soooo much time.
    Things I wish I had done in retrospect:
    1. Writen a weekly note about my kids.
    2. Written more letters to them. Occasionally I would write them a letter and leave it on their pillow. Mostly the notes would be to tell them how proud I am of them or their accomplishments. They really did cherish the notes and I should have taken more time to do it.

    Things I did that I am very glad about:
    1. Take tons of photos and put them immediately to photo albums that are dated.
    2. Kept an art portfolio and laminated their works. I bought each child a portfolio and whenever a very special piece was created I would slip it in. Later I did the laminating. If works were too big or delicate, I took a photo of my child with it.
    3. Kept Christmas journals. I have a couple of these that I put on the coffee table at Christmas. One has our Christmas photo card that we send out and beside it is our Christmas news letter. It is so much fun to read the letters from years passed and to see at a glance how the family has grow from year to year.

    To be continued…. As I am writing this, I realize it might make a good post. Continue to read from my blogs.
    Thanks for the inspiration! haha

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