It’s official. I now have a four-year-old. I’m not sure if that means life’s about to get easier or it’s about to get much harder. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this age. One thing’s for sure – a 4-year-old is not hard to please when it comes to birthday parties. The shape I cut her sandwich into? Yes. But birthday parties? Nope. Super low maintenance.
My daughter’s party with her little friends was this past Sunday. Two mothers told me recently that a good rule of thumb is to invite the number of kids as the age they’re turning. Which was perfect because that was exactly what I had already done in order to keep things simple.
Throw in some pizza, some cupcakes, a little dress-up time, some art, and a bit of jewelry making and you have a recipe for one happy birthday girl. The afternoon was all about eating, playing and lots of laughter. A pumpkin cocktail added to the mix for the moms didn’t hurt either, let’s be honest.
That night as my daughter and I laid in her bed talking before I tucked her in, she asked “Mom, do you ever wish you were a little girl?” Those questions – sometimes it’s like she just knows. It feels like we’re on the same wavelength so often, which I can only attribute to God speaking to me through my children.
I had just been thinking that I sometimes wish I was little or I could revisit parts of my childhood. Thoughts I don’t think hardly ever.
I responded to her, “Yes…sometimes I do wish I could be a little girl like you again.” When she asked why, I said that it would be nice to play all day and I love watching her brother and her learn about the world together. I miss that childlike wonder of life and seeing things for the first time. I can get so wrapped up in bills, doctor appointments, and the house that I don’t often take time to just ‘play.’
Lately I’ve been having dreams that let me know I’m neglecting my inner child. So my dreams coupled with my daughter’s pondering confirmed that I needed to revisit that ‘little girl’ inside of me. What this typically means is being a little more carefree and not so adult-like at times. It might be taking my daughter to the park and swinging with her side by side. There is something so freeing about the act of swinging. When do adults get to just let go and feel free like this? Kids love to play. They love to swing. I think this is my number one way to check in and love on my little girl inside.
Nurturing my inner child also might mean playing in the sand with my little ones without making mental lists or picking up my phone. Not just engaging with my children, but also with myself and my little girl on the inside. Feeling the sand between my fingers, molding it into whatever shape I feel like making. The release of knocking it down and rebuilding. It’s in this place where I can reclaim that childlike wonder and just enjoy simple moments that might have become mundane to me as an adult.
As parents, it can feel like a double-edged sword because in some senses, it’s not always that ‘fun’ to sit and play with our children. But to really get into the moment and on their level and enjoy it maybe even more than your little ones – that’s when you know you’re caring for your little child inside.
There are certain smells from childhood that can also take me back – cookies baking at holiday time, the smell of chlorine and sun-kissed skin and the feeling of air condition in the summer. A certain sandwich I enjoyed as a kid. When these moments come, I feel a wave of nostalgia wash over me and a certain lightness in the air. Those freeing, fleeting days – how I miss them.
So I’ll make the sandwich, eat the freshly baked cookie, and read a book next to the A/C. When I soak in those moments, taste the comforting morsels that take me back – I know it does my heart and soul good. Nurturing the child I once was has become a powerful tool to be more present in my days and to take care of ‘adult’ me too. After all, we are one in the same, right?
Eat, play, love, little girl.