My mind has been cluttered lately and I’ve found it difficult to be present with my kids. I don’t want to just tick off the minutes to get through till Dave gets home; I want to hear their stories, see their eyes sparkle and line up a few more (dozen) Hot Wheels.
One small thing I’ve done this past week to help bring my mind into the present is conscientiously touch my kiddos when I’m near them. With Chloe Baby it is easy because I hold her a lot but I realised often my holding is more functional than intentional. So with her, I try to open my hand and have my whole palm hold her instead of just leaning her weight on my wrist. This has especially helped me be present as I nurse her. But my favorite thing is to pat and kiss her soft baby skin- her baby legs, baby belly and baby cheeks.
Jack, our little two and a half-year old, often looks at me and says, “play vroom vrooms with me,” or “sit with me” in his cute, halting, insistent toddler way. The challenge here is to say “yes” and stop what I’m doing to get close with him. When I’m laying next to him playing cars he’ll giggle at the littlest things. It is a deep breath to my hurried soul and distracted mind. Tucking Jack into bed is also an easy connect time. He sleeps on the bottom bunk of the toddler bunk beds we have, so I can snuggle next to him as I sing to him. One night this week as I laid next to him, he piled all his stuffed animals on top of me. I think it was his way of saying he was happy to snuggle with me. : )
My big girl is my child that I have to be most intentionally present with because she’s content playing on her own or entertaining her little brother, and touch isn’t her top love language. In fact, yesterday as I was praying for lunch she said, “Mama stop. Mama stop; mama stop…” it wasn’t until the third time she asked me stop that I realised she wasn’t asking me to stop praying but rather asking me to stop stroking her hair! That was funny. Little ways that I’ve found to be more present with her are: doing her hair in the morning, putting my hand on her back as she tells me a story and rubbing her back as she goes to bed. But, two of the most unexpected things happened this week with her…
The first was as I walked her to school earlier in the week she asked me to carry her. At first I said, “no” rather quickly. (My shoulder hurt. I don’t want this to be a pattern. She’s big enough to walk. Blah. Blah. Blah.) Then I thought, this age won’t last forever and she is moving closer to me. So I picked up my big four-year old and carried her for a bit. I loved having her little giggling, smiling face millimetres from mine. Her love tank was instantly overflowing. “Oh mama, I love you… I like you so much mama. Oh you were teasing me mama, saying you wouldn’t carry but now you are.” We rubbed cheeks and noses and I smooched her cheeks. It was lovely.
The second unexpected gift happened last night while I tucked her in. She threw her arms around me and said something like, “I’m going to snuggle you mom.” And she did. We held each other a long time. She chattered away a bit but mostly just hung on to her mama. Oh how I’ve missed that. I’ve missed the gentleness and simplicity of holding her in the quiet moments before she goes to sleep. Bedtime has become hurried and I have become quite no-nonsense about it. But really, I want to hold my babies and let the troubles and tension of our days melt away. These little ones are precious to me and so very precious to God. In holding them intentionally this past week I’ve remembered with my heart and soul how good it is to be present with them.