Museums, Aquariums, Zoos, Trails, Beaches, Farms and Libraries. For the past 4 years, I’ve exposed my daughters to a plethora of stimulating experiences. They’ve seen more in their short years than many children have in their lifetime. And while that is great and something they will see in our family photos for years to come, deep down I know that is not what they will remember.
On any random day, my eldest Aurora will say, “Remember that time when I crawled in your bed and you pretended your hand was an alligator and mine was a crab?” Yes, I remember it but only because she reminds me of it all of the time. It was so insignificant; at least it was to me. But that is what she craves. That is what she treasures- an intimate moment, unplanned, unremarkable to anyone else’s standards but something just between the two of us.
I realized, recently, how much I have depended on using external stimuli to parent my child. This is hard to admit, but it is the truth. I used to marvel as I watched my Mother-in-Law capture Aurora’s attention by slipping pine straw through the cracks in our deck. Aurora was in complete awe and wonder for 30 minutes. No toys. No music. No playmates. Just whatever was around. I envied my Mother-in-Law and didn’t believe I could do the same so I looked everywhere else to replace the one thing my daughter wanted most: me.
You can find zoos, aquariums and parks anywhere in the world but you can’t find another Momma quite like your own. So for the past two weeks, I have stayed-put at home. We’ve colored, crafted, swam in kiddie pools, read books, and role-played. I’ve never felt so close to my children before and yet I’ve been “home” with them since they were born.
I’ve recognized, there is a difference between being physically present and actively engaged. I used to be around to supervise my children having fun at or with XYZ but now I’m having fun with them. And in such a short time you can feel the difference. The length of Harper’s hugs when I say goodnight and the meaning behind her “I love you mom.” She means it. She always has but recently, she’s really feeling it. And so am I.
I’ve listened to my elders warn me that this phase passes quickly, that one day I will yearn for these exhausting days to return. So I’m slowing it down. I’m soaking it in. I’m giving my girls what they’ve wanted all along- My love. My attention. My precious time. Me.