Thursday, 25 July 2013

A family of four


For the last two years we have been a family of four, and I thought it was time to reflect on that.
It is truly wonderful to see the bond our boys have, looking out for each other, affectionate, caring and sharing. Of course there are squabbles and arguments and tears, but the majority of the time they are loving towards each other.
Their different personalities are lovely to see, as they unfold and develop into their own little people. What one loved as a baby is undiscovered to the other, what one needs is not what the other needs, and this is a constant surprise, as I learn to parent them differently according to their own needs.
They will sit and chat now, or I'll be called to come look, and find them hugging on the floor, both smiling up at me. These guys both apologise if the other is crying, or if they need to get past each other, they giggle and fight, play characters and look out for each other. They really are best friends.

Parenting is tough at times, as anyone will tell you. At the most trying moments I remind myself they are just doing their best. When I look past the "bad" behaviour I always see a little boy who's acting out because he's afraid of something. So I address his fears, and find the behaviour improves right away. That's how I deal with it and it's working well.
We all have our roles to play in the family, but what's lovely is how those roles are fluid and ever-changing. The joker one minute may be the listener the next, the comforter can be the comforted, and so on, while our parent-child relationship remains just that. I am always aware my children are not my friends, and not here to help me out emotionally. I see my role as their guide, negotiating the path along with them until they can walk off alone.
I have learned so much about patience, acceptance and unconditional love from these boys, it blows my mind. I live my life on child-time now, balancing their needs with the practicalities of everyday life, and the phrase "people before things" helps me keep a balance. I still struggle with meeting my own needs, as I'm sure any full-time parent does, so I celebrate the little things for myself - the painted nails, the shower and blow-dried hair, the finished book, the coffee with a friend etc.

So, four is a great number, both kids can get cuddles at the same time, everyone has someone to snuggle in bed, two boobs means two kids can breastfeed at the same time. Out together you can have the luxury of only having to keep an eye on one child for a while. Two adults and two children is the set-up for a lot of holidays and services, tickets and passes. I can put one arm around each of them on the bus, hold their hands crossing the road, our car fits them comfortably in the back.

My life is full, my hands are full, my heart is full.

Niamh x

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