Moms are masters at multitasking. We can kiss a boo boo, wipe a snotty nose and toast up some Pop Tarts all while rocking a baby in our arms. We take pride in this ability to be interacting with one person while always having one “mom ear” listening for a child in another room. We try to be everywhere and do everything and, if we are honest, we think we are good at it.
That is until, one morning, you sprinkle cumin instead of cinnamon on your children’s toast. Maybe, your children say that the toast tastes funny and you tell them to quit complaining because, in your mind, you’ve already checked breakfast off of your to-do list and have mentally moved on to the next thing. Then, maybe your children ask for some milk because, apparently, cumin can really stick in a kid’s throat. So, you pull some cups out of the cupboard and begin to pour and one of the kids objects to the blue cup you have chosen for her. You tell her that the milk tastes the same in every cup and continue with pouring only to find milk running onto the floor. It turns out that she wasn’t objecting to the color of the cup. She just didn’t want the cup with the crack in it. That’s when you realize you may be living a little here, little there, never fully anywhere kind of life.
Or, at least, that’s how it happened for me.
I knew something had to change. I realized that, while there was much work to do, it did not all have to be done at the same time. There were some things that needed and were worth my undivided attention. For me, those things just happened to be 9, 6, 3 and 1 and preferred not to have cumin sprinkled on their toast for breakfast.
This week, I want to share three very simple changes I made in an attempt to be “fully present” for my children.
- I began to “listen with my face.” For years, I have used this phrase with my children. When I was speaking, but didn’t feel like they were hearing me, I would ask them to listen with their face. I wanted more than their ears. I wanted their attention.
So, when my children come to speak to me, I turn and face them. I don’t continue cooking or folding towels or whatever. I don’t keep my back turned to them. I turn. I kneel if necessary to be on their level. And I listen with my face.
- I let them speak. I don’t rush them, interrupt them or try to finish their sentence for them. For me, this was (and still is) a challenge. Sometimes, by the time a three year old gets halfway through their question, they forget what they were going to ask. Or, at times, you have a child who loves to tell a story. And those stories seem to be never ending! Someone knows exactly what I’m talking about.
But I don’t hurry it along. I don’t ask if there’s an intermission. I listen. I laugh when the story is supposed to be funny and I am appropriately shocked at the surprise ending I saw coming five minutes before.
- I became a “yes mom.” I am a fun, play dough making, jumping in the leaves kind of mom – as long as that is what I had planned for that day. Otherwise, I’m embarrassed to admit, “no” tends to be my default response.
Can we play in the rain? No.
Can we bake cookies? No.
If it wasn’t on my pre-planned, checklist o’ fun, their request usually got vetoed. But I am working on that. When we were walking through the parking lot the other day and my daughter asked if she could jump in puddles, I said, “yes.” (Okay, actually, I said, “No. I mean, yes.” I’m a work in progress, y’all.)
Have a wonderful week, sweet friends.
Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets. – Matthew 7:12