It is so easy to look at a photo and make an assumption about someone’s life based on that one image. I posted a photo over on my Instagram last week of a walk in the woods with my little girl and during the night, after reading some really lovely comments and direct messages I felt that perhaps people just think life here is tantrum free and all blissful walks in the woods…
Don’t get me wrong, what you see IS what you get with what I share on here and my Instagram, but I think it is important to give a little insight into an image in the interests of making people realise that life isn’t as ‘rose tinted’ as it appears in an image or a feed!
As I work through my family photobooks, I have been reminded of early days with my daughter; the days where I would bundle her up, pop her into the sling and take long walks with the dog… this continued well into her second and third year. The absolute joy of having so much free space and freedom to roam and explore, to natter to the people we met regularly along the footpaths and to really take in everything around us… then came the fourth year, and it was as if a little switch was flicked.
I have a little girl who still LOVES where she lives and being outdoors, but she now knows she has *duh, duh, duhhhhh!* OPTIONS.
Every single minute of every single day we enter tense negotiations.
The beautiful new routine of coming home and having a drink and a snack while her daddy has mug of tea in his workshop is so lovely, but it was born out of the fact that I am so busy working that by the time I have to go out and do the school run, I haven’t had time to walk the dogs. Once I have collected her, I often explain that the dogs haven’t been walked and how wonderful it would be to go for a walk, and can you guess what happens next?
Yup, you guessed it! I pull up to the house, her steely gaze meets mine and it’s deadlock, neither one of us is backing down! Me, as her mother KNOWS how much she needs to be out and shake off the day. She, as a strong character KNOWS how much she doesn’t want to go as she’s too tired.
So, the new routine of having tea with her Daddy was established and it is something that works really well; she gets some quality alone time with him talking about their days and as you can imagine, it is lovely for me to go out and have a walk alone in my thoughts, BUT… I miss my cheery sidekick.
Those days of carefully examining each chestnut we found, throwing leaves around and playing chase, well they are beginning to feel like distant memory.
On one hand it is comforting to know that she is becoming more independent from me and that she knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to say it, on the other, it makes me so sad that those days are seemingly behind us.
SO, what about that walk that I shared on my Instagram, the one that made me write this post?
Well, we got home and made some tea for the man of the house (so she could have her drink and snack with him) but as the kettle clicked off the boil, she took my hand, rested her head against my hip and said:
“You know what Mummy? I am going to give you a big surprise now.”
I bent down to face her, a HUGE grin on her beautiful face as she continued…
“I am going to come and walk the dogs with you!”
A moment that made me think, perhaps those days aren’t so far behind us; deep down I think even she knows how much she needs those walks to reconnect and shake off the day, she even said she missed going for walks with me, so I suppose I just have to put the deadlock moments, the tense negotiations down to being another “phase”.
That afternoon, we walked and talked as we did when she was little. We filled our pockets with a stash of chestnuts, kicked the leaves about, did some recall exercises with the ‘pup’ and giggled as she told me all about what her friend had told her school that day.
This post is being shared with you for two reasons:
- A lesson about social media and blogs: Never judge a book by it’s cover; behind each image you see on someone’s blog or social media feed, there is a bigger story, much like this one. For me personally on my Instagram, often during a ‘difficult phase’, whether parenting, health, work or just a period of self doubt, I will choose to focus on the small things that make me happy, like the moment I shared above when we got home from the first ‘non negotiated walk’ we’d been out on together for weeks.
- If you are a parent of a child and you feel like they are slipping away from reach both physically and emotionally, with the foundations of those early years hard as it is, give them their space and they will come back. Sometimes it will just be a look or a hug, other days the walls come down and you are able to connect in a way that you always did, as I did with my birdy on that walk.
Funnily enough, since that walk she has completely dropped snack time and tea with Daddy, favouring a walk with me and the dogs! It has been so lovely for us both and for me as a parent, a reminder that sometimes I just need to let her do her own thing for a little while then when she feels ready she will be back!
I’ll end this post with a simple reminder from Dalai Lama’s wise words, a reminder I use myself in those moments of anxiety as a parent, and a few images from our walk this afternoon.
“Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back, and reasons to stay.”