The best thing about having kids

Before I had children, I was an expert (weren’t we all?). One of the things that bothered me the most about people with young kids was how they complained all the time – about exhaustion and never having any time to themselves and all the stuff I complain about here… My thinking was: you chose to have kids! Suck it up.

Oh how times have changed.

But I do think there’s a tendency to focus on the difficult parts about parenting – possibly because they’re the loudest, and you can be guaranteed commiseration because we’re all in this together. All parents of small children are tired and desperate for some free time.

But all parents of small children are also doused in joy, and magic. Lately, I’ve been making a conscious effort when speaking to my mom friends, to bring up some of these moments of wonder. It’s my favourite thing about having kids: this sense of amazement in the everyday.

Arty tasted chocolate mousse for the first time yesterday and he was blown. away. “Oh my gosh!” he said after his first mouthful. “Chocolate mousse!” His face was transcendent.

Ella picked sun-warmed strawberries for the first time yesterday and the look on her face as she ate them was priceless. She couldn’t believe her luck!

These moments are scattered throughout our days – the slices of joy I talk about so often. But I feel like there’s a bigger picture here, too. Because much as it’s difficult to be woken before 6am every. single. day, it’s pretty wonderful to be playing and laughing before 7am every. single. day. My capacity for wonder is vastly expanded thanks to these small people.

And Christmas! Oh Christmas. We are all so excited. There were a few years there (maybe a decade or so) between growing up and becoming a mom that Christmas was just a nice meal and a few presents. But now it is chock-a-block full of magic again. The tree! The ornaments! The stockings! The treats! The presents! It’s a sparkling time of year, and that’s all thanks to Arty and Ella.

I also have a real appreciation for how lucky we are, right now. Everyone I love is healthy! No one is in crisis. We are all doing well. What more could we ask for? I’m reading a wonderful book (Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout) and I just read a line that encapsulates this feeling for me. Olive is reminiscing about when she and her husband were middle-aged, in their prime, and she thinks:

“Had they known at these moments to be quietly joyful?”

Here’s wishing us all a festive season where we know to be quietly joyful.

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