It's kind of scaring me that we're well past the half way mark of the year. It has made me consider all that has happened in 2016. And when a friend talked about New Year's resolutions and asked who is still on track I thought, damn, I'm glad I didn't make any.
I used to be reasonably big on New Year's resolutions. And New Years Eve. But to be honest, with two kids this year has passed in a blink.
It has been an enormous year so far: Adjusting to life as four has been wild and amazing.
In 2015 I did all these little things and big things (like, uh, having a damn baby). And so far 2016 has been pretty intense (see: this exciting thing) despite none of these things being goals or resolutions. I mean, having a baby is kind of a goal but you know what I mean...
So I went into this year teeth bared and strong-willed as if heading into a storm, because frankly sometimes that's what parenting feels like. And on the days where it's mostly sunshine I've been ready for the sun to rejuvenate me so I'm prepared for those days when it's darker.
And throughout the year I've kept thinking about my quiet aims as a parent. They're not big and lit up in lights. They're changeable. I have learned so much as a parent and I am going to continue to learn. I reserve the right to change the views I have and adjust my course to better suit my whānau.
There are little aims like: Don't rush in to "help". Have faith that my sons are learning and they need space to learn. Stop rushing them so much, let them do things in their own time (I mean, they don't need to take 45 fluffing minutes to put on one shoe but you know... the rest... )
Stop worrying before I need to: I need to remind myself that sometimes things work without me doing anything at all, so there's no need to stress. These little goals and aims change all the time. Even day to day. They're refined as I learn more - from the children, from other parents...
But the main bits, the bits that count, are the bits that I will ponder as I switch off the light each night. Even when I'm foggy and the edges are dulled from a day with too much "MUM MUM MUM" and wailing and bumped heads and fat tears (theirs and mine) I can usually pull these little hopes into the forefront and say each one quietly to firm them up and keep them real.
I made promises to my babies as I carried them and then as those first pains of labour started I promised again. And then when I held them in my arms I cried as I swore to them that I'd keep these promises.
I will love you always.
I will keep you safe.
I will always try.
They're simple and they're the same breathless teary promises mothers the world over make when they hold their babies for the first time.
Or that rush they feel as they see the plus sign on a pregnancy test. Before the fear and the doubt there is a moment where those promises tumble out before you can really articulate them. And they form the basis of all parenting:
• I will love you even when you're screaming all night or pushing boundaries or buttons.
• When you're grown I'll still love you even when you make choices I don't agree with or find hard to understand. I'll still love you even when your actions hurt me or you hurt yourself.
• I will keep you safe emotionally. I will honour your feelings and protect your heart.
• I'll try my best to guide you so that you feel strong and can talk about what you need to feel healthy and whole.
• I will keep you safe physically. I'll never hit you. I'll make those hard decisions about your health until you are old enough to.
• I'll make sure I advocate for you and I'll protect you from people who hurt others. I'll teach you to be gentle with yourself and others. Both hearts and bodies.
• I'll always try. I can't be perfect. But I can commit to always trying to be the best parent I can be. I won't always be that parent. But I hope that when you look back at your childhood you see a mum who tried her hardest. I hope if you see the days I yelled or felt overwhelmed you'll also see the deep breath I took and you'll hear me apologise to you and you'll see that I was accountable and I tried. I hope you'll see that it's OK to fail but that we always try to do better.
And as an adult I hope I'm still the person you need, though your needs will of course be different, I hope you feel you can turn to me and I will respect your boundaries and the life you've created for yourself.
These are promises to my children but they're also promises to me. They remind me that I'm lucky to have these special kids in my life. And when it's 4am and I'm thinking I can't possibly do this because I'm TOO TIRED and NOTHING IS WORKING - I'm reminded of these promises.
And they're something of a guiding star for me. Almost useless if it's too cloudy but most nights, a light peaking through. If I'm lost I'll find my way. And I'll get there in the end. Taken back to that moment when I held my baby in my arms and said, I promise ...