I went into my room the other day and met everything completely topsy-turvy. My jewelry was strewn all across the floor and, to my absolute horror, my make-up foundation bottle was broken. Argh! The pain still feels fresh, because I had hardly enjoyed this foundation I hacked out money agonizingly to purchase in the thick of the pandemic. The culprit, my beautiful 21-month-old daughter, sat right at the center of that tropical storm with her arms outstretched, grinning innocently. I quickly called my best friend to rant about how I could hardly wait for my daughter to clock age 5 so I could finally get a breather and start living my best life.
After the conversation, I felt really unsettled by the things I said. Various thoughts began to swim through my mind. I knew my response to the situation was normal, but the eagerness to catapult myself from that very moment to the next three years made me ask myself some important questions. What is this ‘best life’ I am looking forward to and who says I’m not already living that life? How will I enjoy that life when I finally attain it if I’m not really living through this life I have now?
These questions triggered memories of the innumerable times I had been in a scramble for the next phase of my life. I closed my eyes and went on a trip down memory lane, beginning from my teenage years. This was the period I became completely fixated with my older sister’s and cousin’s lives. To me, they were perfect examples of how I ought to have been – away from home and totally free from the parentals. I felt my life was such a drag doing monotonous secondary school things and couldn’t wait to get to the important stuff. I also looked at my mother and was bummed that she could choose to eat anything she wanted or go out when she needed, while mine had to be rationed to some degree. The thoughts that go through a child’s mind though. I concluded that being an adult was just more fun and couldn’t wait to grow up. As I grew up, I grumbled a great deal like teenagers typically do. My mantra at that time became “when I grow up, I will…”. Someone should have told me then that adulthood isn’t really worth the hype (can I get a witness?)
My journey down memory lane accelerated to my university and post-graduation days. With every achievement and milestone I’ve hit, my celebrations have consistently been fleeting. I can sincerely say that my life, up until this point, had been spent anticipating the next big thing or in some cases, analysing the things that I could have done differently. My present-day has never really been something I have given much thought to enjoying, particularly as regards to daily mundane tasks with my kids that always seemed to be in competition with tomorrow’s plans. The incident with my foundation was a good wake-up call because it made me mindful of how much I needed to improve, especially in my parenting journey.
This isn’t to say planning for the future is not great, but when it starts to overshadow the present, then you need to just pause and reevaluate. It’s odd to think that this very moment I have right now will, at some point, be referred to as ‘the good old days’. There will come a time when my kids will be all grown up and wouldn’t need me so much anymore, and it will feel like time flew past, as time always does. What are we going to remember of our time together?
My eyes are now wide open to see and find pleasures in the present. My new pledge is to simply enjoy every single moment of my kids barging into my room at odd hours, answering ten questions per minute from my inquisitive older son without getting exasperated, watching the same TV shows with them again and again because it makes them happy, playing hide-and-seek even when all I want to do is just lock myself up in the room, or to simply do what I can to keep them tickled whilst enjoying myself simultaneously.
At the end of the day, I want my kids to understand that mummy is present and available. I’m not going to sugarcoat it – it is a grueling task. As painful as it may be, I will replace my broken foundation bottle (sobs) and place it completely out of my daughter’s reach. Hopefully, she won’t find something else to spill. In the case that she does, I will take it in good stride, so help me God. This very moment we have right now has to count. It is all that is guaranteed, after all.