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:

  • Tickling
  • Licking wars
  • Singing the good morning song
  • Kicking balls
  • Hugging/cuddling
  • Making crazy eyes at each other
  • Laughing
  • 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.