I really do believe that giving your children presence is truly something precious and what they want the most.
For me it’s one of the things that challenges me the most because I’ve structured my life in such a way that there is so much going on, it’s very hard for me not to be focussing
on the next thing, or what might be, or all the times we’ve been in this place before. Letting go of some of the structure is a good place to start (although pretty freaking scary for a control freak – sshhhh don’t tell anyone!) because I know my girls are different every moment, and I’ve found that as far as my daughters go, I describe them best, I remember them best, exactly as they are NOW, in this moment.
Somehow (unsurprisingly?) weekends are more relaxed, although the days are the same, the same physical needs of everyone have to be met, but the routine events aren’t there – school, day-care, dancing, gym, art class, play group work, work, work – so we all lay in bed together a bit longer, pyjama’s are still cool at lunch time, if we don’t leave the house or yard no-one misses us, and mostly we all get along. But by the end of two days my brain is eager to learn something new, I want to have some adult conversation with my friends, and if I never have to make another snack plate or negotiate an amicable outcome I won’t be sad!
I have been doing a lot of focussing lately on being present with my children. To do that though I really have to make it conscious for myself.
I have to notice when I’m not noticing the moment, and my head is off having a conversation with someone else about something completely un-related to watching the singing combo on the trampoline.
I’m working on it being less of an effort, just being, because that would be really zen, but I’m not quite there yet….When you’re just being in the moment and appreciating the funny stuff they do (like those dance moves in front of the wall of mirrors in my room (no I didn’t want a wall of mirrors in my room, but that’s how the house was built and all four of them spend an incredible amount of time in front of them!!)), the classic things they say (have you ever heard a three year old having a conversation with a friend on her fake mobile phone??) and generally enjoying them.
Last night I had a bath with baby girl, who at 8 months old and toothy smile, is especially adorable when the boogies and pumpkin mashed are wiped off, and she’s nudey and sitting on me in the bath. She surprised me, my number four daughter, because I actually didn’t know I was going to have her in my world, and every now and then I am just taken aback at how lucky I am to have four daughters and this happy, funny little one that 18 months ago I didn’t even imagine would exist. And while we bathed, she did her loud, fake laugh and clenched her bottom, which made me laugh, which clenched my stomach, which made her bounce, which made her giggle, which made her bum clench, which cracked me up, which…..well you get the picture, me, her, the bath, giggling.
But for all my zen, it was certainly a different meditation of motherhood than the night before, which was me, in the bathroom, combing the nits out of my number three daughter’s hair, whilst my first born’s sneakers boomed (crashed, belted) around in the clothes dryer, trying to get dry before school the following day. And every time the nit comb slipped out of the hair, I would get “OUCH MUMMY YOU HURT ME, YOU SCRATCHED ME, STOP, STOP” and I breathed (in time to the dryer/sneaker combo noise), and imagined I was somewhere else. Anywhere. Just quieter, perhaps a place that has a quiet shoe drying machine and no hair bugs, and a place you can hide when it all gets a bit much.
Maybe for just ten minutes.
Either that or I could just watch the Disney Channel with daughter number two, it’s a fairly long way from the bathroom, and when you stare through the TV, it’s very much like meditating, until someone asks “Mum, what are you thinking about??”……
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I vividly remember promising myself that when I had kids I would pay more attention to them than my parents did to me. This promise came after one of many whinges at my mother like the following “You weren’t even watching, you have to REALLY watch this time” And then repeated some feat of daring like a half arse handstand.
It is a promise I am unlikely to keep, (just like the promise to wear a copy of ‘Vicky the Vet’s’ wedding dress from a Country Practice – fortunately the pastel rossettes never made the cut on my big day) I think that is where the ‘promise’ comes from in ‘compromise’. I think if your mind didn’t wander a little whilst watching the trampoline antics you would indeed be super mum.
My parents did watch our backyard Olympics ‘properly’, maybe because of the inclusion of a real flame for the Olympic torch…………..note to children, make it worth watching!
Keep up the good work