I am tired a lot of the time.
Tiredness makes the edges of life seem fuzzy and throws off your focus.
I usually consider tiredness a price worth paying if it means I can squeeze into already overcrowded days time alone. So I steal time away from my pillow and give it to my greedy fingertips instead. To allow them to purge the thoughts crammed in back of my head behind Barney the Dinosaur, Dora the Explorer and assorted work deadlines. Given alone time my thoughts come tearing out my fingertips, through my keyboard and onto the page.
I exhale myself onto the paper and it invigorates me.
Even at 1am when I know the alarm will go off five hours later. I am invigorated by transcribing what I live and re-reading it to discover what I have learned.
But kids require focus. Eye-to-eye focus. Tired eyes do not make for good focus.
That challenge drifted to me from across the ocean this weekend. The wonders of the podcast had me listening in on my South African (closer-than-a) cousin sharing testimony alongside her husband about the effects of a family trauma on their kids.
They should patent the toolkit they described.
Because it begins to help us way before we need it. The habit patterns for a family that they worked through are still rolling around in my head. But one, one is now breathing deep in the toddler bed down the hall.
Eye-to-eye contact and appropriate physical touch. This, they shared, is the love language of children.
My first born snoring down the hall is beginning to up the ante and show this mama new arcs to his development curve than I have seen before. It has us bumping heads a lot. Especially when I am tired.
So, I went to bed early and woke up to explore the yard with him. We held hands a lot.
I got down on my knees when we talked and listened with my whole face to his dreams about soccer and urgent desire for a batman suit. I watched his first soccer practice unobscured by a camera lens. We didn’t just say our “I love you’s” we wrestled them. We made lists of all the ways to fill a boy’s love tank:
- Licking wars
- Singing the good morning song
- Kicking balls
- Making crazy eyes at each other
- Drinking chocolate milk
- Kissing (or “smooch-pooching” as we call it in our house)
Not that we didn’t do these things before. The difference was my level of deliberateness. And the directly proportional response I saw in my son.
I watched Jackson eat and metabolize love this weekend.
In sharp focus.
I am writing it down to remember the settings I need to get that kind of outcome again.
I was JUST thinking about this recently because – in having our 4th baby last year, we seemed to get too busy and lose some focus on our kids. It’s THIS…what you are describing right here…deliberately being such a part of your kids’ lives that it makes a real difference in who they are. I grew up in a family where NONE of us kids [there were only 3 of us] were ever, ever treated like this from our parents. They were always too busy, I guess…and maybe it never occurred to them to be that way with us because no one was ever that way with them when they were growing up? I think that it can be a vicious cycle like that…
And with me and my hubby, it’s not something that we did intentionally, it’s just something that naturally happened when we got too busy, too tired, too emotionally spent, etc. We are changing to get back to that! Our children are more important than anything else!
I love how you put this: “I am invigorated by transcribing what I live and re-reading it to discover what I have learned.”
That said, I’m inspired to see that you gave up some of that precious time up to get some rest and to give more of yourself to your son. It really does make a huge difference when we give our little ones our fullest attention. And there is such power in that love–in that simple gift of quality time.
Oh thank you for writing this! It has brought tears to my eyes because my 3 year old son and I are having such a hard time right now and I am not doing nearly enough of this with him. I know that he needs it, but to do it (with a 17 month old wanting in on the action ALL of the time) is hard. This is my first time with boys and I am learning how different they are than my daughter. Sometimes I just don’t know how to handle them. Thanks for some insight.
holding hands! My 7yr old loves to hold hands – he loves pajama pj night where we all get into our jammies early and watch a movie together. And he loves to make brownies or cakes together – and lick the bowl!! =) (okay, so I do too)
What a well-stated reminder!!! As a homeschooler, I am ALWAYS with my kids and serving them, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m paying true attention to them.
“I exhale myself onto the paper and it invigorates me.”
that is such a beautiful way to describe writing…
“listened with my whole face”
it’s like when the child grabs the side of your cheeks and says “pay attention” until we listen with our whole face/ our whole attention.
sometimes as an adult, i want to grab other adult faces and help them to “listen with their whole face” too :)
Last week, my 3 year old was quite demanding on time with me. I listened, played games, wrestled, cuddled. I felt closer to him this past week than I ever have – and he’s a major mama’s boy!
Yes, our children need our focus, our touch. It’s good for them, it’s good for us.
How crucial it is for these little hearts to feel the love of a mama drinking in as they pour out. Our human hearts long for this kind of reception… all of us. As a mama, this is a gift I can offer my boys… not just now… but throughout their lives… and my children’s children’s lives! Oh, how this gift has dividends for the giver! Ok, I’m gonna go look at the worms found on the sidewalk… up close and personal-like! :)
What a great reminder! I definitely need to spend more time talking to my children in their language instead of talking at them.
On a side note, I, too, was up way too late again writing my blog. Like you, I NEED to do it, and unfortunately, midnight tends to be my alone time!
Writing will always help you remember! i love going back and reading what I have written, it’s healing!!
Motherhood will definitely be challenging, but looking so forward to it!
We are doing the 5 Love Languages of Children in my moms bible study and I plan to share this. Please let me know if you would rather I not share it. Its great. Thanks!
Oh, Lisa-Jo! This may just be my favorite gypsy post to date!
This is a perfect guide for how to purposefully and deliberately love on (and parent!) my children. I think I will be making a list with my babies, too!
So grateful for this…and for YOU! :)
Why is it so hard to do this, to be intentional about our attention towards them? It is something I know I lack, know I need to do, and yet… fail to do, every single day. It’s too easy to get caught up in the reasons and things that keep us from what matters most. Them.
Lovely words. You write beautifully. Thanks for your inspirational mothering example.
This post is so good. I spend a lot of time with my 4 yo, but I have to remind myself some days to make it quality time. I need to get down to her level. I think I need to go to bed earlier tonight so I can really be awake for her tomorrow.
So much on my heart lately. I have such a hard time being intentional with them!!! Had a conversation with a friend the other day about why we don’t enjoy our own children as much as other people do. Yes, they frustrate us and we’re around them all the time, but if we’re really WITH them it should be enjoyable – for all of us! Think I need to bookmark this post :) Thanks sweetie!
Oh what truth you speak!!! To listen with our whole faces!!!! My days are spent with doctors appointments – what they need to know, what referral needs to be done, when it needs to be done and for which child. I spend my days making sure my children are physically taken care of and it is exhausting! I need to spend more time making sure their hearts are taken care of! Thanks for the insight.
What a great mom you are!
Fantastic! I have a little boy (and a 20 year old man-child) and this post was just wonderful.