Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Parenting Young Children

Life is Good: our toddler's in charge!

I’m a planner. I am the joyful list-making daughter of a make-a-list-and-mark-it-off mother. It is in my DNA. That is how I get things done. And today, while the big kid was at school, the wee one and I were going to read books and work on puzzles. That was the plan.


Well, the little one, whom has had a mind of his own and has not been shy about showing it SINCE THE WOMB, had other ideas. Every time I started to read a book this morning, he would close the book, shake his head, and put the book away. At first, I thought I had just been picking the wrong books. Remember the whole "mind of his own" comment. After numerous attempts, I conceded and pulled out the puzzles. It was part of my plan for the morning, after all.

Nope. Nuh uh. Not gonna happen. Puzzle pieces pushed away, head shaking emphatically, the little one jibber jabbered a long, run-on sentence with the enthusiasm and intensity of a drill sergeant and then climbed up into the rocking chair in his room. Not quite satisfied, he furrowed his brow, tugged on my sleeve and pulled with all his might—a forceful invitation to join him. I obliged, of course. We sat side by side and I began to rock the chair gently and slowly. I turned to him and asked what it was that he would like to do. Eyes bright and wide, he began to sing (in the sometimes clear, sometimes garbled way a 22-month old sings) the song, “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”. So I accompanied. And he smiled. And there we sat, rocking, singing, smiling together.

I don’t know which was sweeter, the sounds of a 22-month old “singing” the word, “hallelujah” or the closeness, the outpouring of love, the contentment that seemed to ooze around and all over us.

I tried to stay present and keep my thoughts specifically on the sweetness of the moment, but my mind did linger---to thoughts of gratitude…for getting to be a mama, for getting to be a mama to this extraordinarily sweet boy, for this precious, precious time in our lives. And thoughts of how fleeting this time really is. Gosh, why does life seem to be on fast forward?

But for a half hour or so this morning, life was on pause. Or rather, “replay”. Singing those simple words over and over. Blue eyes looking into blue eyes. Smile…giggle…smile again.

Books were not read. Puzzles were not solved. But time was savored. Love was shared.  My child asked for my time and my attention and I gave it over to him freely, in the way that he needed it. Which was what I needed, too. Today, I think I confirmed to my child that he can feel free to share his needs with me. And that I will be open and interested and help him navigate through it all. And my child showed me, once again, that in this journey of parenthood, sometimes I am the teacher and sometimes I am the student. And often, we are both at the same time.

I went ahead and marked “books and puzzles” off of my to-do list. And over it, I wrote, “relish the moment”.

 “The sweetest memories are right here, in the moments we create and share with one another.” –Katrina Kenison

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