“Not Right Now”
“In A Minute”
I’ve kind of sucked at parenting lately I think. It’s a busy time in our lives right now. We have been doing a lot of ‘adulting’ and my relationship with my daughter is suffering.
It’s not without reason. We are about to move our family across an ocean. We are figuring out how to run our business from afar. We are dealing with family who is making the decision more stressful. It’s a time of big change and transition and even in just the logistics end of things our to-do list is huge.
with two small children in tow.
My nearly 5 year old has never been big on independent play. Ever since she was tiny she has preferred interaction with us (and more recently other kids) as a part of her play. My 16 month old is already very different. He will happily dig in the sandbox or play in a bin of water for endless periods of time. They are different kids with different needs, but in times where too much adulting has to happen my daughter suffers more.
I know every time I use one of the phrases above I am chipping away at my connection with her. I am not here to make any promises about never using them but something is out of balance at the moment and she’s suffering. She’s whining more, she’s clinging to us more and she is more anxious than normal. And I’m sad and frustrated because I work hard to be the good, gentle parent I want to be and sometimes I just fail miserably.
I don’t want her childhood memories to be filled with “go play” and “maybe later”, especially because later often never actually comes. How crummy is that for her.
So I need to fix it. I need to step back and make time each day for her in ways that are important to her. I can’t erase all of the things I actually need to do right now but I just also need to reprioritise my connection with her. Being a mother is more than just keeping her fed and brushing her teeth and snuggling at night. Well some days it’s just those things but it’s also so much more and the days just slip away so quickly. Before I know it she’s going to be 15 and not really interested in hanging out with me too much (although I secretly hope that’s not true).
And the funny thing is I know the payoff will be big for both of us. If we spend time every day focusing on the connection with our kids then it often pays us back in more time for all the other things we want and need to do. I know this and I still get caught up in trying to get my things done at the expense of her childhood.
Life is full of many difficult things that take up our time. In each day and in each season there will always be periods of time that are more difficult (the chaos) and easier (the calm). I am lucky enough to live a life that is ultimately filled with very little real struggle. The least I can do is slow down and breathe a little and be present for part of every day. The smile on her face when I just say ‘OK’ instead of ‘maybe later’ tells me I’m right.
So today I pledge to say
“Let’s do it now”
“We can take our time”…
just a little bit more often. Sometimes it’s just a little bit that makes all the difference.