I remember the first time my older son "helped" me cook. He may have been around 18 months. Old enough to say a few words and independently mobile. He would cling to my legs and beg to be picked up every time I was at the stove or kitchen island. Since I try to cook most of our meals at home, this was happening really regularly. So one day, I picked him up. I gave him the spoon I was stirring the food with. He grabbed it, started stirring, and yelled over his shoulder "I BUSY!"
I busy. That was cute. But I knew he wasn't bragging about his newly found privilege. He was acting out what he had seen me do so many times in his short life. Go to the kitchen, start working on the food, and yell "I'm busy," to everyone else who tried to capture my attention. Just like that my 18 month old gave me a proverbial punch in the gut. I started to wonder how I could make that time less busy. Could I cook enough in one meal to have leftovers for another? Could we have a few more sandwiches instead of hot lunches in an effort to be less busy and more present? Could I get my partner to take some of this burden so I could have some time letting go of busy? Slow cooker? All of this created a major shift.
That's not the only shift that has happened since our kids were born. In fact, I sometimes wonder who is parenting whom. I start to think I'm showing them how the world works, but they often show me how it really works. I try to show them who is in charge and they show me that we're actually in this together. I try to figure out the perfect response to every question and situation and then I remember that I'm one person with one way of looking at the world. I don't know what I don't know. I might be trying to decide between a parenting zig or a parenting zag and my kid wants a parenting poof instead. I may find out too late. Or I may never know.
So I take some deep breaths. I remember that showing up, being in the game, and open to changing course when needed is the "perfect" response. I ask lots of questions. I get help. I reflect back on my life. I remember that even the most talented parents have limitations. I remember that the only person who knows what I wanted growing up is me. So I take some time to go back and parent myself. I let go of being "busy" for my kids, but first of all, for myself.
Happy Father's Day!