I am in one of those places right now where I am thinking and pondering often about how I can teach my kids the things they need to know, and get them to do what they need to do without being that mom who screams, nags, and hovers. Honestly, that is the mode that I most easily fall into. It comes very naturally, and I am pretty good at it. Does it produce the results I am looking for.... no, but I keep doing it.
Last week my 7 year old son had a meltdown over something that I would classify as not tantrum worthy. He just lost it. My default reaction for this type of behavior is to send him to his room to cry it out there because I don't want to hear it. But instead, I made a conscious decision to hug him and let him cry without me telling him how ridiculous it was to be upset over something that doesn't matter. It obviously mattered to him.
What a difference that singular moment had on my son's behavior and attitude for the remainder of the day.
My kids aren't getting hugged enough. Sure they get hugged. But, they aren't getting the touch of their mother as often as they need. They aren't getting the one on one face time they need with their parents. I let my son lay in my lap and cry for 20 minutes while I rubbed his back. When he was done crying I told him that I loved him (instead of what I was getting ready to say to him just before I would have sent him to his room).
That experience got me thinking about how many times during the day do I say "I love you", or give a hug that is more than just a pat on the back. How many times do I do these things hurriedly, or without making eye contact, or from the bedroom door as they are going down for the night? How often do I rush to discipline, often from a different room, when a display of love might be the remedy?
I may be a "stay at home mom", but am I a "with my kids" mom? That's a scary question. I have been home with them, but have I been with them?
It is good to be in the same room with my kids. It is better if I am next to them, doing what they are doing.
It is good to read with my kids. It is better if we are all reading the same book, together.
It is good to have lunch with the kids. It is better to be sitting down at the same table.
I am guilty, guilty, guilty.
Multi-tasking can be a virtue, but sometimes it is also a vice. I have a bad habit of trying to rush though everything, and trying to do everything at the same time. There is a lot to be done. Really, most of it is just busy work. What is another load of laundry waiting to be folded? What is a dishwasher that needs to be unloaded? What is a bed that needs to be made? What are any of these things compared to the very real emotional and physical needs of the people we love and who trust us to provide for them?
I have translated some of my new discovery to my relationship with my husband. At least one night a week I rush out of the house as soon as he gets home to take care of errands that are more pleasant without children in tow. Most nights I start working on the all the stuff I didn't want to do, or couldn't do, while the kids were awake. I have been guilty of treating his presence as a disturbance to my routine instead of making the most of the time we have.
My husband works hard, long hours. I am sure yours does too. At the end of the day, he wants to be with me - face to face. I can see the tension and exhaustion on his face when he walks in the door and I have two choices. I can give him the time that he needs, that we both need, or I can go about doing what it is that I think is so important. In the end, whatever I have left undone, can be left undone a little longer.
I hasn't been easy to just sit down and talk with my husband while a sink of dishes is staring at me from across the room, calling to me. Or ignoring my phone as it beeps. Or stopping whatever it is I am doing. It hasn't been easy to hold back the complaints about my day long enough to let him share something from his day. It hasn't always been my first instinct to reach out and hug my husband the moment he comes home, or just sit and rub his back without him asking.
The power of a touch to heal and soothe the mind isn't a myth. We instinctively know how to do it when a new baby comes into our arms (I love that feeling), but we forget that the big kids and adults in our life also benefit from the touch of someone they love. They need it.