I started thinking about how much my life has changed when I was out at a fortieth birthday party a month of two ago. We were at a fancy bar and we had all dressed up when I went to the bathroom to put on some lippy. As I rummaged through my bag, looking for my lippy, what I found instead was a huge length of Coles Sports for Schools vouchers. As I pulled at the vouchers, they just kept coming and coming, like one of those endless scarves a magician pulls out of his hat. When I eventually got to the bottom, I found a half opened baby rusk and one of the pink hair bands that belongs to my daughter, but there was no lippy to be found! I thought, ‘Wow, my life has really changed since having kids!”
One of the best things about sharing your life with kids is that it makes you do things you would otherwise never do.
Like the other day I took my eldest daughter and my niece ice skating. I can’t tell you how many years it’s been since I went iceskating and I was not at all sure that I was even going to be able to make it around the rink. But I had two little girls clinging on to me for dear life, so I had to figure it out pretty quick. There is no way that I would ever have decided to go iceskating if I didn’t have children. I have to admit I was sore for about a week afterwards but it was really fun!
The other thing that I have to do with my daughter is art and craft. I can honestly say that I do not have an artistic or crafty bone in my body.
I cannot draw, I cannot paint and I am really rubbish at making stuff. If I didn’t have a kid, I would not draw a single thing in my life, ever! But my daughter loves art, so I’ve had to get used to living in a house full of paint and paintbrushes. The other day, while my daughter was painting, she asked me to paint something too. This absolutely terrified me. My instinct in those moments is just to say, “No darling, Mummy doesn’t paint, wait until Dad gets home,” but I know that’s not sending her the right messages. What I should be teaching her is that it’s good to have a go, and that you don’t have to be Picasso to have fun. So I reluctantly agreed to paint something as long as I was allowed to copy it from a book. I painted The Very Hungry Caterpillar while Birdy gave me directions about colours and lines and helped me with the hard bits. It’s not something I would ever have chosen to do, but I really enjoyed the process of working together on it. (Now you can see why I don’t illustrate my own books!)
Last week we went to Canberra for two nights to visit friends. While we were there, we went to Floriade for the first time. Birdy is the sort of child who takes great delight in picking flowers on the way home from school, so I was pretty sure she would enjoy Floriade. I’m always happy to be outside in the sunshine, but hearing her squeals of delight was what really made the day for me. She kept saying things like “Oh, mum it’s so beautiful!” and “This has just been the best day ever!”
Having children not only forces you to do things that you would otherwise not bother to do, but you also get to experience it with the sense of wonder and awe that children bring to new experiences.
I enjoyed going iceskating, but for the girls everything about it was amazing and exciting because they were experiencing it for the first time – the sensation of slipping and sliding on the ice, the intense cold, the boppy disco music, the people spinning and twirling – they were totally spellbound by it.
When you’re a parent, there’s much a about the job that’s mundane. There’s the endless cooking and washing, the daily routine of school pick-ups and drop-offs, making lunches etc – but in the midst of all that, there are these magic moments where we not only do things we wouldn’t normally do, but we also get to share in the sense of awe and wonder that only a child can bring to the experience.