Monday, May 2, 2016

Mothering Monday: Being Present

It's twilight and the kids are jumping wildly on the trampoline, reveling in the warm weather and late sunshine. My husband and I are running around on the yard, throwing balls over the trampoline net as the kids shout and laugh. The moment is serene, relaxed, and, with the filtered light of the sun as it sets in the horizon, magical.

Until I ruin it. As the kids play, my mind goes to the green brier patch in the back I am fighting. If I start now, I could eradicate a few of the beasts before the sun fully sets. I run to the laundry room, changing into my heavy, protective clothing and attack my consuming foe. My phone rings and it is my husband, asking why I left the family as they play.

Sadly, this isn't a one time event. I get consumed by my personal projects, household responsibilities, and my interest in whatever is playing on my screen.

I'm not a natural at playing with kids. Heck, I wasn't even a natural at playing when I WAS a kid. I would lose patience with games my sisters and I played and I would invent very imaginative ways to get out of playing so I could go back to my solitary interests of reading or being alone. In many ways, I am an extrovert, but I also crave solitude and space to work on my own interests. I don't enjoy board games or sports. Playing with toys makes me want to poke my eyes out. And I totally loathe watching animated films. All of this conflicts vastly with today's parenting methods.

A recent conversation on a radio show about parents getting too consumed with their phones, email, and social media and how that impacts their relationship with their kids made me really stop and think.

I wasn't being present with my own children. I have a 16 year old son who will be leaving home in 2 1/2 years. My baby will go to school in 3 years. What am I missing about my kids?

(This is me, holding my daughter's hand as we walk around.)

That evening, I made dinner and brought a quiz game to play while we ate. We joked and laughed as we tried to guess the connection between three things. Instead of the colossal chaos and noise usually present at the table (and from which, I usually try to escape, because I feel utterly overwhelmed by the sound).

The next morning my daughter was buried in a game and I asked her to come and help me make muffins. She turned me down and I realized, I had caused that. She was used to me turning her down so I could do something else. I insisted that she come and help me. After a few tears, we spent the next 20 minutes making muffins.

That afternoon, I took one of my daughters and one of my sons to a music video shoot. As I watched them interact with the other performers and play with carefree abandon, I realized that I have actually been missing a lot.

It's embarrassing to admit this. I want to be a good parent. I want to nurture and raise my children so they grow to be happy and productive adults. The good thing is that I have time to correct this and I will.

Have you ever realized that you were making big mistakes as a parent? What did you do to fix the problem? What difference did it make for your family?

1 comment:

Handsfullmom said...

One of my goals this year is to be present more. It can be challenging. I am sure you are doing better than you realize.