Hey Mumma, You’re Doing Fine

 

I hope you had a great day today. One of those days where you’re woken with a kiss and your coffee tastes just right. One of those days where the sun is particularly warming and your kids make you laugh over breakfast. An easy day. A day where you walk down the street and people see you. The relaxed you, the real you, the you that radiates all the good stuff and makes everyone smile back.

I hope it was one of those days where strangers took a moment to tell you what a good job you’re doing with your beautiful kids, or where family gave you an extra hug and told you how valued you are.

But days can be fickle sometimes, just like people.

Maybe you didn’t get your dose of wonderful today, so let me share some with you now.

Mumma, you’re doing great. Amazing. Freakin’ fantastic. And no tantrum in the supermarket or homework disaster can change that. The messy kitchen, unfolded laundry or weeds in the garden? They don’t matter. Trust me. They don’t. You’ll get to them, you always do. But you rocked at today Mumma, because you loved fiercely today. Not perfectly, but that’s ok, we don’t aim for that, perfect’s too stiff, real is better. You loved your family today in that real fierce Mumma love where you saw the good stuff in them even if they were hiding it.

You took time to explain kindly, even if you wanted to yell. You were patient, even if you felt rushed.  You found time for a game, even if you were busy. You made them smile even if they were making you frown. And you also probably stuffed up Mumma and that was the best bit of all, because NO ONE gets it right all the time, not you or your kids and when you picked yourself back up again and owned it you taught them courage, and humility and that it’s ok for them to be human too.

Some days you’re going to be adventures and crafts and freshly baked muffins and other days you’re going to be pajama pants and baked beans. It doesn’t matter. Life has its rhythms and you’re allowed to as well. But you laughed with them today, didn’t you? And you probably danced, or sang or made an animal noise at least once. You found something that was impossibly lost forever in their room or turned balled up socks into a football.

You gave them something good today. You. And they love you to the moon and back for it.

Yep, even during the tantrum in the supermarket.

So sleep sweetly Mumma, because if life didn’t show you how beautiful you are today it will tomorrow.

You’re doing fine.

 

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Father’s Day

To my Husband,

Today is father’s day, and in a lot of ways it will be a day just like any other. You will be woken too early by the wild enthusiasm of a toddler, you will be asked to find Lego pieces as though life depends on it and your baby girl will coo at you in the voice she’s just beginning to find.

This day may not feel different, but I want to tell you why this day, and all the others that you’re in our lives, is exceptional.

Our boys watch you, more than you know. They watch your dedication to your work, they watch you do the dishes and see you dance with me in the kitchen. They see you choose kindness even when you’re angry, and patience even when you feel frayed. Those moments when you make them the centre of your world? That builds them up. The games when they laugh so much they need to catch their breath? That’s more precious than any toy they could own. They’re learning how to be men from every day they spend with you.

Your actions teach them in ways words never could.

Sometimes they act up for you. They shout too loud, they dig their heels in, they argue just because. I know that feels heavy at times, so I want to remind you something. To those two little boys the world seems enormous. There is so much they don’t understand, so much they can’t control. They’re strong boys, your sons, just like their Dad, and they can’t always find a place for their strength in that big world just yet. So they turn to you and they let it out like a breath they’ve been holding. Because you’re their safe place, Daddy, and knowing that you’ll love them no matter what gives them wings.

A lot of things might feel unremarkable now, but those moments are making something. The back scratches before bed, the games of monster trucks on the living room floor and the cuddles that scare away bad dreams. You’re weaving them a childhood from those moments, and that’s remarkable indeed.

They’ll grow up to be men one day and pass on traditions you didn’t even know you shared with them. They’ll tell their children jokes you told them in passing, and remember stories you made up that made them laugh. They’ll remember how comforting your hugs felt, and be determined to give their children the same.

They’re learning family from you.

Your daughter is little now, only eight weeks old. She knows you as warm arms, the gentle smell of cologne and a prickly beard. She knows your smile and funny faces and is just beginning to realize what “Daddy” means. Before you know it her head wont fit in your palm quite so easily and her hand wont wrap so neatly around one finger. Her laugh will be louder, her smile toothy and she’ll run at you like a cyclone when you get home of an afternoon, just like her brothers, her face lighting up just like theirs do.

Yes, in a lot of ways today will feel normal, but I want you to know that fatherhood is anything but. Thank you for giving our kids ‘Daddy’.

You are loved.

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Outtakes

We all have nutty days, and I like to photograph them.

I’ve always taken more photos on the days that feel like chaos – in the quiet moments, in the laughing moments, the moments in between the utterly normal madness of family life.

In the evening I can sit down and look back on the day that just exhausted me, and I don’t see the tantrum over the broken stick or the kids arguing in the car, I don’t hear “he LOOKED at me!!” or two boys in mad debate about who got into the garage first… I see the joy. It’s always there. There’s always so much happiness in between the moments that drive us mad on those days. There’s always giggles between the whinging, always delight between the cranky faces. There are adventures of huge dogs or lizards eating apple by the beach, there are sand castles and hermit crabs to find and sunshine that could melt winter.

Those are the highlights and they look so good in photographs.

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Then again… what about the rest?

We always laugh at outtakes don’t we? But we often forget to laugh at our own outtake moments, the ones that don’t quite make the cut. Admittedly it’s not always funny at the time when you’re asking your toddler not to lick his shoe, or being given an extensive booger collection. It doesn’t always make you smile when your child can’t possibly poo in a public toilet because it’s not sparkly enough, or when your shopping trolley keeps going missing when you turn around, but later… I think I’m going to start capturing some of those moments too.

You see I didn’t really appreciate our outtakes today. I was tired, and they didn’t feel funny then. But tonight I went through photos and I found this one…

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It summed up today perfectly.

I think I’ve been missing a lot on these nutty days. I’ve wanted to capture the good bits to make memories, forgetting that the best memories are loud and colourful and feel a bit like madness at the time. The chaos of these days is as fleeting as the cuteness, and maybe I’ll appreciate it a little more if I mix up my highlights with the outtakes.

Because honestly, you can’t help but laugh can you?

Your Book

I love you and I’m proud of you.          

I try to show you how special you are to me whenever I can and slip little I love you’s into everything. But some days the other stuff is louder. The “come here”, “listen”, “we have to”, “stop” or “just a minute”.  It’s part of growing up, along with climbing trees and silly jokes and those times when you’re scared of the dark… but the I love you’s should always feel bigger. Bigger than the reminders, the trips and falls, and far bigger than the meltdowns or tears that sometimes find you along the way.

So this is your book, little one. And every night, once your eyes finally close, Daddy and I will write in it for you. We’ll write a different thing each night that we have loved about you that day, a different thing that we’re proud of. There are so many, I doubt we’ll ever run out. When we fall asleep we’ll have that memory on the tips of our minds, ready to dream about.

In the morning when you wake you’ll find this book beside your bed and every day the story of you will slowly fill these lucky pages.

Growing up is one of the most amazing adventures you will ever have. There are twists and turns and ups and downs and moments of laughter and tears. But this is your adventure, and it’s you that makes it special. I hope that opening this book every morning reminds you just how special you are and that nothing is more important than the good bits.

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Thoughts on child safety from a ‘Helicopter Mum’

I hate that term, but I’m going to use it here anyway. I’m going to use it because it’s become the supposed antitheses of everything we want to be as parents. The idea of sheltering our kids is frowned on, as if this shelter – which is our very job as parents to provide for this short time – is automatically synonymous with suffocating them. I call bullshit. Our parenting styles – just like our children’s development – is a spectrum of possibilities. A good parent worries less about the labels and more about reading their child and their needs at that time.

This isn’t about not hovering, or even hovering at all, it’s about responding to your child and the situation.

First of all let’s deal with the negative associations with being protective. You’re meant to be. That’s kind of the point of this parenting gig. Your child is, and should be, innocent and vulnerable (to a degree) when they’re young. It’s the age of rose coloured glasses and seeing the adventure in everything. It isn’t, and shouldn’t be, about seeing the danger in every situation, the monster in every stranger.

A lot of growing up is about becoming responsible, and as children grow it makes sense to make them aware of their own safety. From spatial awareness to observing their surroundings, to following their feelings about new people they meet (or those they’ve known for years), but we need to be careful not to put that full responsibility on shoulders too young to carry it.

Your three year old, six year old, nine year old or twelve year old is not an adult, and nor should they be taking on the world of adult dangers alone.  Watch them, listen to them, be there – even if you’re watching from a distance. The time when you’re needed like this will be so brief, but the more you support their freedom by protecting their innocent adventures will give them wings as they grow rather than baggage that might take a lifetime trying to unpack.

One of the most important things we can do for our child’s safety is to encourage them to listen to their feelings – and to do the same. You don’t want to give Mummy a kiss before bed? That’s ok. You don’t want to go out and play with the neighbour’s kids? That’s alright. The man chatting to us in the park makes you feel uneasy? We’ll move away. You don’t want daddy to tickle you today? He won’t. Encourage your kids to stay in touch with their gut and teach them how to listen to it by listening to them. Even if it’s not logical to you, even if it’s inconvenient, even if it doesn’t make sense a thousand times over. The more you trust them, the more they’ll trust themselves.

More often than not the monsters we’re protecting our kids from aren’t the men asking them to get into cars by the side of the road or lurking in shadows. They’re the ones at BBQ’s that we never would have suspected. They’re the friends of the family that push the boundaries but are oh so likeable.

What bothers me most about cases of child abuse is that often the child said something early on. They talked about having a feeling about the person, they told someone that they’d been touched or hurt and their protectors didn’t listen.

The more we respect “I don’t want to be tickled” etc the more our children will feel strong to tell us what makes them worried or scared, and the more familiar we’ll be with listening and responding.

That’s the responsibility we should be giving our kids – far more than the ‘don’t talk to strangers’ speech. Strangers, more often than not, are friends we haven’t met yet, and they piece together the social world for our kids.

I’m a protective mother, but I also respond to my kids. I stand back if they’re climbing the ladder safely – but I step in if it’s not safe for them. I love the chats my kids have with the neighbours or people at the shops – but I’m never far away either.

Maybe you’re fiercely independent. Maybe your child is too. That’s great. But still keep an eye on them Mumma. Listen to your gut as you listen to your kids, and make sure you’re responding to them rather than the people around or the media you who tell you what you should be doing.

You might be accused of sheltering them – don’t worry, there’s plenty of storms to deal with in life, this will just help keep the rain outside them. You might get accused of being over protective – don’t worry, you can find your balance in this and your kids will naturally reach for space when they don’t need your safety quite so much.

I’m going to give my kids a childhood rich with experience, adventure, and inadvertently a little scattering of life’s stresses too. But in doing so I will respect that they are children, and let them keep their impulsiveness and innocence as long as they can. I am determined that they will go into adolescence and adulthood with no more angst than necessary. And if that means I’m the crazy Mumma who’s keeping an eye on her kids while everyone else is enjoying a latte so be it. They deserve that, and their strength will come from not having to carry any burdens that shouldn’t be theirs.

thoughts onCopyright Nirvana Dawson 2014

Drawers full of stories

I never planned on hand me downs. I felt certain, in that over confident new parent kind of way, that I wanted my children to have things chosen just for them. Things that would express the individuality of who they were, rather than fitting into someone else’s. We would be rich enough, I reasoned.

I can’t quite recall how long that idea lasted, but it did involve passing on piles of toys and clothes. Somewhere along the way I began keeping things, and packed them away, unsure of their value. Still certain that my next little person would be so very much themselves that they would need clothes and toys to match.

How I ever thought my little ones individuality could be lessened by anything is beyond me.

Sebastian is almost two now. He has new clothes, bought fresh and just for him – he also has hand me downs.

Not just drawers of clothes but drawers of stories. They’re not just the shorts he’s wearing to the beach this morning, they’re the shorts we picked out in Zurich on a hot summers day, that his brother wore when his hair was still blond and his voice still small. The Viking t-shirt isn’t just cute, it’s days at the park filled with giggles before he was born, and hide and seek when his brother always used to hide in the same place. The red pajamas are him, but they’re also his brother making cubby houses under the sheets, they’re nursery rhymes sung back the front by a little boy who came before him who fiercely wished for a brother of his own (and had christened him “Mashtoe”). Sebastian isn’t any less himself when he wears his hand me downs, but he is a little more “them”. And in my naivety I couldn’t have comprehended the beauty of that.

Bodhi loved diggers when he was two. Unlike cars, which were a momentary curiosity, diggers enthralled him. Every day for almost a year he made us read his favourite book that talked about all kinds of heavy machinery in great detail. He would sit, fascinated, listening to the same facts and figures as he cradled his toys. He loved his digger toys. Some came from Switzerland, some Italy, some the shop down the road; little model diggers and graders, loaders and forklifts. He would carry them everywhere, even fall asleep with them clutched tightly in his hand.

He didn’t dug with them once.

They were held, admired, sometimes tentatively moved back and forth but never ever really played with. That was him. The idea of dirtying toys meant for dirt appalled him, so they sat in a box, paint only faded from endless caresses by sweaty toddler hands. Along with the cars he had barely registered he owned.

Sebastian ran around the house today, as he so often does, driving Bodhi’s old cars and trucks and diggers along tables, floors and shelves. He humms like an engine, crashes them, races them and makes tunnels from books. The diggers dig, the graders grade. The cars are parked in their freshly made garages. Those toys, the dusty forgotten vehicles are alive again. Alive for the first time really, because this is different in a way I was a fool to think it wouldn’t be. “Mine.” Sebastian says, hugging them, and they are. They are his, just as they were his brothers.

Those toys, those clothes, those things that make memories are both of them. They are their stories, waiting to be remembered.

Years ago I figured we would be rich enough not to use hand me downs. How wrong I was. The richness in this has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with memories best worn and played with. It has to do with sharing; laughs, cuddles and moments made together, played out years apart.

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

Toddler Tips to keep your parents on their toes

 (Inspired by my beloved almost two year old)

  • Any reason is a valid reason to be picked up. If you don’t feel like walking any more burst into tears and scream “Can’t walk!!! TOO LAZZZYYYY!!!!”
  • Parents can become complacent while driving if silence prevails for more than thirty seconds. Use a mixture of techniques to keep them on their toes. This week mine are:
  1. “Watch out!!! On the road!!!!!” “What’s on the road?” “HUGE CROCODILE!!! QUICK!!! BIG SHARP TEETH COMING TO EAT YOUR HEAD!!!” *pause for thirty seconds then repeat with another fierce beast of your choice*
  2. “Happy!” *insert maniacal laugh with head thrown back and mad flailing of arms then return to complete neutral* “Sad!!!” *drop lip and say, not cry “Wahhhh!” a few dozen times before reverting to happy*
  3. If anyone in the car looks too relaxed try accusing them of something. It doesn’t have to make sense. “No cows in there!! Just a man and pretty grass BODHI!” *glare fiercely at brother and shake head while jabbing a finger in his direction* Bodhi – “I’m not exactly sure what I did…”
  •  Singing is fun, but songs can get boring. To make them more interesting try replacing random words with “Poo”.
  • Your mother wants you to grow into a free spirited individual who thinks for himself. Remind her of this daily by ignoring her completely when she calls out to you.

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  • Diversion is the best form of defence. If you’re being naughty and your Mummy lovingly accuses you of being a troublemaker immediately accuse her of being a “chickenmaker”.  Her momentary pause will allow you to escape and wreak further havoc.
  • Parents love imagination. Show them that you have one by sharing stories with them. They also love adventure so make sure your stories feature volcanoes, lava raining from the sky, and fierce dinosaurs who like to eat Mummies and Daddies.
  • Love can be gentle and love can be fierce. Remind your Mummy of this while she’s putting you to bed by alternating between soft kisses and body slams to her face.
  • That is not breakfast, that is a physics experiment. Now see if you can make that sucker fly.Toddler 1
  • If your Mummy says anything you don’t like, such as come here, don’t touch that, listen etc just scream “Ow!!! Ow!!! Help!!” This is more effective if in public. Don’t let the fact that she hasn’t touched you put you off. For extra points smirk at her while you do it.
  • “Don’t do THAT!!!!” can, and should, be screamed at regular intervals regardless if anyone is doing anything or not.
  • That is not a Christmas tree, that’s a personal challenge. Aim for the glass baubles, the ones that bounce are boring.
  • Mummies like ladybugs so call everything you give her a ladybug, even if it’s actually a live roach. Her scream just means she’s excited.
  • Honesty is the best policy. If Mummy says “You’ve been a bit naughty this morning, are you going to be a good boy now?” say “No, but will be very cute.”
  • In tender moments stroke Mummy’s face gently and murmur “Aw, so old.” 
  • Ask for Daddy, then scream for Mummy when you get to him… then scream for Daddy when you get to her. It makes them both feel loved.
  • Everyone must be standing in your presence at all times. If Mummy offers you a hug while she’s sitting on the floor it is perfectly acceptable to throw back your head and wail in anguish while stamping your feet.Toddler 4
  • Flinging your arms around someone’s neck and saying “Love you SO MUCH!” makes them happy. Mix this in with the naughtiness to keep them on side.
  • If you’re feeling shy pretend you’re a statue. This works better if you’re in an odd posture at the time.
  • If Mummy tries to play peek a boo with you while you’re nude pretend that you heard poo instead and do one immediately. It will make the game memorable.
  • Snot is exciting and must be presented for inspection to everyone in the room.
  • Spontaneity is good. Having just done a pee in the potty is no reason not to pee on the floor 30 seconds later.
  • It’s good to appear in the know. If people are having an intelligent conversation interrupt frequently to say “Yeah of COURSE.”
  • Enthusiasm is everything. Soften the blow of waking Mummy up at 4am by leaping on her shouting “Hoorrrraaayyyy! Is morning!!!”
  • Last but not least, if you’re really cranky, just make this face….

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

The gift of misplaced words

To my Son,

You gave me a gift today, little one, and I almost didn’t notice.

We had been grocery shopping, a necessity despite you not being yourself due to a headcold… or the wind… or your teeth coming through… or maybe just getting up on the wrong side of the bed.

And I asked you to be good and to focus at a time when those ideas made as much sense to you as saving fish from drowning. So you tried, with your mind elsewhere and your hands all over your brother who was NOT in the mood to be your human stress ball. I asked you calmly to give him space, once, twice, probably five or six times before I announced the loss of a privilege for not listening. I’d handled all this pretty well so far, I was calm and in control and explained things peacefully enough for you to completely ignore.

Then you lost it, and so did I.

We all have challenges, and one of yours is magnifying life’s stresses when you’re not at your best. So this loss of privilege, which really wasn’t so bad, seemed ENORMOUS to you in that moment. You melted down, and as you did you said some really awful things.

I should be used to your use of words as weapons, and remember how quickly they fall when the moment passes. I should remember that your attempts to hurt with them just mean that you’re hurting and you need to get it outside of you as quickly as you can to lessen the burn.

But we all have challenges, and one of mine is taking what is said at face value. So I got hurt along with you. I got loud along with you. And as you fought to get all your anger out I fought right on back. Not in the same way, of course, and to an outsider I probably handled it just fine… but the truth was I lost myself in those words of yours, and that wasn’t fine at all.

We drove home with both of us fuming and not much talking going on. After a while calm returned and we talked about the reasons why what you said wasn’t ok. That was true, it wasn’t, but neither was my response.

Most of us go around as adults thinking we’re doing pretty alright. We learn to play to our strengths and push our weaknesses aside or justify them. We make beautiful masks to wear for the world and they hide a myriad of faults.

And you, little boy, are particularly skilled at making my mask slip.

Taking words at face value is fine, it’s not a fault as such, but it misses a LOT. A lot that you deserve and that I do too. It reaches to other relationships and to my marriage. Responding to someone losing their cool and over reacting by losing my cool and over reacting… well, that doesn’t work.

Your gift to me today was reminding me of something I could do better. Reminding me that sad doesn’t always have tears, and hurt doesn’t always shrink back. Reminding me that small things to me can be huge things to someone else, and that grown up concepts and instructions sometimes don’t fit little people whose minds are in the clouds that day. You showed me that anger is not always about the one who receives it, but sometimes about just getting something out before it hurts you more, and that a moment and a deep breath can change everything.

I snuggled you in bed shortly before you went to sleep tonight and we talked about today. I reminded you that just as Dad and I talk to you about things you could do better you have every right to do the same to us, because we’re all learning no matter how old we are. I acknowledged your feelings from earlier than you’d hidden behind your anger, and asked you how I could have handled it better. I reminded you that just as you owe others respect they absolutely owe it right back. Your lip trembled as you told me how I could have handled it better, and I promised you I would try my hardest next time.

Growing up isn’t easy, and the truth is we never really stop. We will get it right together so much of the time and we will get it wrong an awful lot too. It’s all part of pulling off the mask I guess. And each time we’ll get to know ourselves a little more, become more patient, more kind, more humbled by this huge life thing we’re doing together. It’s just about being honest, really, and the trust that goes with it.

So thank you for your gift of misplaced words today little one, they made my mask slip perfectly.

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

Spending Habits

Not long ago a friend of mine posted an image on Facebook. It was a screenshot of a spreadsheet her husband was working on to ensure that the way they were spending their time was in alignment with their core values. It was late, I scrolled past it, my brain registering a quiet grumble of protest that that sounded way too structured for me.

But my mind keeps coming back to it.

We talk to our children a lot about the spending of money. About the value we place on things. As a society we focus on a lot on those numbers, those figures we associate with value and happiness, security, intelligence. There’s a huge focus on dollars, which is interesting, because you can earn more.

You can’t earn more time, you can’t even borrow it.

We enjoy the luxury of believing we have a certain amount of it, but the truth is we don’t know. No one does. What we have with certainty is now – this day. The sad person, happy person, unfit person, healthy person, rich person and poor person, the bored person and busy person – they all have this. Their experience of it differs greatly, but we all build what we have from these moments.

We get caught up in the idea that we are what we think, that we’re our ideas, concepts and wants. It’s true, in part, but in a bigger part: we are this day. 

We’re what we do with the time we have.

How we spend it is our truth. The rest is words, assurances or excuses we use to build ourselves up or tear our dreams down. I’m talking about you, about me, about all of us.

Our time doesn’t lie, what we do with it is the most honest reflection of what matters to us.

When I was growing up my mother used to say “Whatever you’re doing, do it well. If you’re working, work hard, if you’re relaxing, relax fully.” I’m still getting the hang of this, most of us are.

I’ve admitted to myself in the past couple of weeks that I need to work on my spending habits, and not the wallet kind. I spend the most part of my days joyfully focused on my children, and I wouldn’t change that for the world, but there are still wonderful little pockets of time that I don’t use to lift myself up – and I can. There will always been housework, study or work, but in every day time exists that’s yours. How are you spending it?

That spreadsheet doesn’t seem like a bad idea after all….

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

To the Dads

To the Dads,

Let me take a moment to remind you how important you are.

I’m sure you’ve had flashes of it, the practical importance of the hands on help, the cuddles, the giggles and secret jokes between you and your kids… but sometimes in amongst all the busyness you might miss the enormity of those moments.

You likely grew up in a time where ‘boys don’t cry’ and we should ‘toughen them up’. You likely were told to quit it or cut it out when your heart ached, or to pull it together when you needed to be held. Maybe over time your walls went up. Maybe it changed you, even if you were loved beyond measure, to grow up  when ‘good’ meant quiet or stoic, not sad, not vulnerable, not needing more.

And maybe your walls get in the way sometimes, when you try to connect to those close to you. Maybe they divide you and your wife, or even the parts of who you are. Maybe they’ve been there so long that you fail to notice them, until someone breaks them down just enough for you realize that it’s ok to feel what you’re feeling. That you’re worth it just as much in your angst as your joy.

Your kids are building right now, Dads, they’re building themselves. Allow them to chip away at your walls with you, so they don’t feel the need to build their own. Every hug, every ounce of compassion and connection, every ‘are you ok?’ ‘it’s ok to feel like that’, every ‘I love you’ helps shape them. Every time they feel like you’re their safe place, where it’s ok to be soft even if the world feels hard, moulds them into someone to be proud of.

You see they learn a lot from you, and most of it happens when you don’t think they’re watching.

Your sons are watching you and learning what it means to be a man. Over the years the world and their peers will bombard them with images, ideas and falsehoods, but right now, when they look at you, you’re it. You’re their first example of the richness of growing up. In you they see strength, love, commitment, hard work, laughter, and romance. Let them see the hand holding and the arms around your wife or partner. Let them see the thoughtful gestures between you and the dancing in the kitchen or snuggles on the couch.

Every time you help in the home your sons learn a little about responsibility, every time you treat someone with respect they learn a little about integrity, every time you show them how precious they are, even if they might be driving you mad in that moment, you show them the fierceness and beauty of love.

Your daughters are learning about men from you. Before the friends and the boyfriends, TV shows and romance novels they see you. They see how you live your life, treat their mother (or your partner), and value yourself and them. They learn about body image from remarks you make, about true compliments when you see the wonders in them, and from hugs that ask for nothing. Because as they grow up they will be flattered, and the authenticity of your interactions with them will ground them. They will hurt, as we all do, and they will remember the strength and love you showed them and accept nothing less from those around them.

Life is busy, especially with work, and sometimes the conversations, connections, board games and adventures feel like they may take the last out of you at the end of a long day. But remember that these aren’t small things for your little ones. These are their memories. Those bedtime stories, lego building, bush walks, sword fights, star gazing or cubby houses will feel all the more rich to both of you as time passes, and it does pass oh so quickly. One day, all too soon, they’ll be too busy for silly games or adventure stories read by lamp light. One day they wont want to hold your hands as you jump on the trampoline, and they wont need that push on the swing.

And now, the time that they do? That matters. You matter. So much more than you realize.

They’re building themselves right now out of moments Dads, and your moments with them hold it all together.

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Copyright 2013 Nirvana Dawson