I have two amazing little boys who teach me so much about the world. I am learning that they are also excellent mirrors for me and sort of a litmus test for my own inadequacies.
You see, if you don't already know, parenting is a humbling experience. Imagine with me...
- Realizing you've left the house with no makeup or appreciable hairstyle, but plenty of drool and/or snot on your collar.
- Talking down a child who is insisting on a balloon from the party store, when you only wanted to run in and return a $2.99 item. He plunks his bottom on the sidewalk and refuses to walk to the car.
- Having your nursing babe grab at your shirt in front of complete strangers, only to have them return a smirky smile.
- Holding out your hands, imploring your child to just, "throw up here" so he doesn't get it all over the carpet at the library during storytime.
I've long said that if my boys have the basics--enough rest, food and opportunity to eliminate--life is swell. However, after some recent experimentation and contemplation, I have two more items to add to the list:
When I was growing up, my Mom (a cat fanatic) explained to me that if you want to bond with a cat, you should look it in the eyes and slowly blink at it. I'm still of the opinion that cats tend to choose one favorite person in the house, but it's commonly agreed that emotionally healthy people like eye contact.
I realized how often I was expecting my kids to "just play quietly for a minute" so I could tidy the kitchen, put away groceries, or pack the diaper bag to go somewhere. They were supposed to be happy on the floor while I was quickly walking back and forth. So when I read part of this book and realized that I wasn't giving much focused eye contact, I tried it out on my kids. So far, it really seems to be making a difference, not only in them, but in me. I find some very maternal feelings welling up when I take just a few seconds to gaze into their precious blue eyes.
I really do think that my kids would be happiest if I just laid on the floor with them all day long while they played next to, or on top, of me.
That idea just about bores me to death. I thrive on accomplishing things.
These kiddos, they are smart. They know when Mommy is rammy* and can't just BE. This is something I'm really trying to work on, mostly for their sakes. Being present in the moment and lingering a little too long on the couch is not a bad thing.
The bad Mommy police will not come after me if we are a few minutes late to storytime, but the kids will remember if there was yelling and a battle to get dressed. The more exasperated I become, the more irritated they become, and the spiral begins. I'm the parent and I need to choose to go more slowly.
It's also really important not to overschedule their day. They want to wrestle and play trains and rearrange every.single.toy. in the house. And slowly, gradually, I am able to fold laundry or knit or even clean nearby while they do their "work."
What are you learning about the needs of others in your life?
*Sorry if you aren't PA Dutch. This means agitated, wiggly, a little anxious and eager to get a move on.