It was around a year ago that I was anticipating February half term, and wondering how it was going to pan out. No-one could have been more surprised than me that my tired children and I had a great week together.
And since then, each holiday has been pretty good. I’m a little scared to say it out loud. My children are getting on better with each other, and we are able to make decisions together about what we would like to do. We seem to enjoy spending more time together.
Enjoying the holidays?
I’m not saying it was all awful before – it wasn’t. We just seemed to have more moments of difficulty. It was like navigating unchartered territory – I would think that a particular activity would be something they would enjoy, and one of them would kick off at the suggestion. It was hard to second-guess what would work.
A friend mentioned the other day that when her children have not been responding well to reasonable requests, someone has said to her, “and this, too, shall pass”. I think that we can recognise phases that other people are going through and acknowledge that we also found them difficult. It is reassuring to know that most people come out of the other side without too many battle scars!
The growing up of my children is bittersweet: we now function better as a family unit and are able to spend at least some of the time considering the needs of the others. I am aware that the time with them at these lovely ages is short. Each year seems to go past more quickly than the previous one, and it really won’t be long before we wave them off to university or working life.
I can now look back on some of the things that drove me to the brink when they were pre-schoolers with fondness. On my daughter’s second birthday we had 20 minutes outside Tesco when she refused to get into a trolley. During the stand-off, a number of people gave me a secret wink, or whispered to me that it would be worth it in the end. I no longer have to carry my son under one arm and his bike under the other as we leave the playground. It’s amusing to remember now we are not actually in the situation.
And my son has started asking me how my day was when I collect him from school BEFORE he asks what snack I have brought him. The first year and a half of awful pick-ups now seem a distant memory, but I found it hard not to get angry at the time. Hindsight is a great thing – if we knew a phase was going to pass soon, we would be able to cope with the moment much better.
It’s not just child-rearing situations in which we can take a deep breath and remember and this, too, shall pass. To the relative grieving in the early days of bereavement; to the teenager anxiously cramming for exams; to the person who has recently come out of a relationship: all of the emotions that are currently whirling around may not disappear, but they may get easier to cope with.
For more posts like this, follow Secrets of Heaven on Facebook