Babies can sleep in the car, but most would agree it’d be rather cruel to deny an older kid an after-school activity to preserve nap time. Families seem to walk more naturally to the rhythm of their eldest child, and ours is no exception. I became increasingly sensitive to this as our family grew, compounded by the fact that the eldest kids in our family are not mine by birth. Perpetually committed to finishing things well, I’ve actually gone a bit overboard trying to provide a home in which the big boys find joy.
I’ve followed the the three little pigs around with a wet rag, determined to erase all crumbs, trails, and evidence. I’ve done three o’clock clean-up scramble, chucking every toy into a closet just before the bus squeaks to a stop in front of our house. I’ve shushed the little ones incessantly, banishing them to play in their rooms when they’ve gotten loud or obnoxious. Heck, I was recently reprimanded at Ames’ well visit because the kid could barely hold a pencil. I hid all of the arts and crafts supplies, to keep stains out of the carpet and resources available for the big boys’ school projects.
I’ve done a pretty good job at proving my love and commitment to my stepsons, but I’ve also fallen short at enjoying my tiny ones right where they’re at. So I’m turning over a new leaf this year. My big boys know how I feel about them, and they know they belong. This is their family, too, and it’s my job to model how to treat the least of these. It’s okay to let the dirty toddler laundry fly a bit. Let’s get a little messy. Let’s get a little loud. It’s time to celebrate these tiny creatures a bit more.
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