“Just a minute, honey, let me finish this one thing…” And one thing becomes five things. Just let me check my email. Let me read this one more post. I just need to throw this load of laundry in the dryer.The kitchen table is still sticky.
This exchange happens in our house almost every day. Little people are asking me to do something for them or with them. To engage them in conversation, to get down to their level and enjoy them.
A lot of the time, I choose to get sucked in to the tasks at hand. Tasks that are (often) necessary and valuable. (But sometimes just a time suck, let’s be honest, facebook!) Like now, when I’m trying to write this post and Sydney keeps asking me questions. Hey, it’s supposed to be rest time, girl!
This week, I wanted to focus on pursuing relationship with my kids. It is not always easy to attend to all their physical needs. Four kids equal a lot of needs! But it is even harder to make sure their emotional, social, and spiritual tanks are being filled each day. It doesn’t seem as urgent as making sure dinner is on the table every night, but I know it’s just as important to spend time reading or talking with them each day.
This Tuesday, Audrey and Georgia had the day off because it was election day and people vote in their school. I set up some much-needed play dates for all three girls for the afternoon, and envisioned myself getting a lot of work done while Joel napped.
With Sydney at her friend’s house and Joel settling down to sleep, the big girls and I went outside to wait for their friends’ moms to pick them up. I was itching to look through a new magazine that had just come in the mail, but the girls wanted to practice jumping rope. It was a perfect fall day: sunny, warm, color everywhere. I looked at my magazine, cover enticing me with promises of quick recipes, Thanksgiving decor, and organization solutions.
I picked up the rope and started turning.
Over and over, the girls and I chanted:
Mabel, Mabel, set the table, just as quick as you are able! Don’t forget the silverware, napkins, plates, glasses, salt, and the red…hot…pepper!
Or maybe this one:
Brush your teeth and comb your hair, but don’t be late for school!
We laughed as they got hit by the rope or tried to jump in double time. We talked about things that happen on the recess yard at school. We howled when the end of the rope came untied from the mailbox post and went flying through the air. We spent a half an hour together, just having fun their way. I thought I was helping fill up their “mommy time” tanks with some quality time.
But when they each went off to their friends’ houses, I realized that they were not the only ones with smiles on their faces. I had a peaceful, satisfied feeling, too.
It’s not just that they need a relationship with me. It’s not me giving and them taking. A relationship is a two-way thing. (Hello, obvious, right?) Both the girls and I grow closer to each other in times like this.
And this is where I want to focus. Of course, things still need to get done. Sydney needs her rest time so she can learn to play independently (and I can write blog posts). But maybe a little less of the other stuff would be good for all of us.
Has anyone else been thinking about the kind of mommy you want to be? Tell me, or leave me a link if you’ve posted about it.
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