Wednesday, November 14, 2012

what i want vs. what they need

one of the hardest lessons for me to learn as a mother has been that you cannot. hurry. children.

and yet, no matter how many times i remind myself of this, i find myself trying to do it on an almost daily basis.

"what are you doing?  get your toothbrush out of the toilet and go put your sandals on!"

"let's go, please.  no, this way.  to the car.  to the car.  to the car."

"sweetie, i'm not going to go get your blanket; we're late for church.  now buckle your car seat or i will."

(at this point i would consider us "on time" for church if we arrived anytime within the first half hour of the meeting.)

now, sometimes you have to be in a hurry.  and i think that's okay.  but why, more often than not, do i find myself rushing around every day?

i think it's because i have this mental timetable in my head, a vision of how i think the day will/should go.  "i want to be home for lunch by 11:30 so I can get the boys down for naps before 1, and we have to go to the grocery store on our way home, which will probably take about an if we go on a 45 minute walk on the paved trail and stop at the playground for 30 minutes we can get some outside time in.  but we have to leave right now.  quick, where are the shoes?  are these leggings too tight to go out in public?  boys, sit down so i can brush your teeth!  where is the green water bottle?  stop pulling out all the wipes!"

finally, i'm on my way out the door and i realize suddenly that i smell two freshly dirtied diapers and the dog is whining to go potty.  and then someone accidentally shatters a jar of jelly on the floor.  cleaning up sticky, tiny shards of glass is quickly bumped up to priority #1.

i think sometimes i have to be willing to give up my schedule.  especially around naptime and bedtime...i'm just ready to clock out!  i don't often want to take the time to slow down, read some stories, and ease the boys into the transition.  but when i don't, it means i lock two still-wound up boys in a room for a few hours and they stay awake the whole time, giggling and jumping on their beds and breaking picture frames.  (okay, just one picture frame.)

lately i've been trying to be more mindful of the times when my children seem to just need some down time.  yesterday, after a naptime of not napping (and breaking the aforementioned picture frame), i went to get the boys out of their room.  they were, of course, tired, which manifested itself in tears and clinginess and a propensity to default to meltdown mode at even the slightest glance.

so basically, not fun for me.

what did i want to do?  i wanted to get them to the park, to a friend's house, to the store--anywhere to distract them, anywhere but alone in this apartment with two nearly hysterical boys.

what did i do?  thankfully, i listened to my instincts this time, which told me that what the boys needed was some close, quiet time.  so i gathered them onto the couch with a small stack of books.  they snuggled up to me (after the initial "MY SIT ON MOMMY'S LAP!" "NO, MY SIT ON MOMMY'S LAP!" struggle) and i began to read to them.

it was interesting to see the change in tesla (desmond had a small fever yesterday so he didn't "recover" as quickly as T did and needed some extended snuggle time).  at first, he needed to be right on my lap, making sure he was getting an equal share of attention.  he was on the verge of tears, know how it is.  but after a while, he began to smile a little at the stories.  then he sat up a little and pointed something out in the book.  he laughed.  and eventually, he was grinning and happy and got off my lap to play.

i know that if i had pushed them into doing something they weren't ready for yet because i didn't want to deal with their emotional moods, our afternoon would have gone much differently.  it was a good reminder for me to slow down sometimes.  when i have a whiny, clingy child at my feet, i need to remember that i can give him a few minutes of undivided attention, which most likely will "fill his tank" and allow me to finish what i was doing in peace.  or, i can keep doing what i was doing, trying to ignore him.  (hint:  definitely not the easiest or most fun option.  also, the child's mood could potentially get worse.)

our go-go-go culture isn't really conducive to peacefulness.  we have to seek it, to carve out that quiet time for ourselves. so tomorrow, look for some time for yourself or your children, if you have them, to slow down and decompress.

it will be worth it.


  1. The past couple of days it has been on my mind to slow down and take time to do....well.....nothing? I am SO not good at that and you are right, too many times we just fill our heads with noise and distractions when we need that peace now nd then. Such a good insightful post, like all your posts :)

    1. thanks mom. :) and thanks for being a nana who will slow down and snuggle two very wound-up boys when i leave them with you so i can go out. ;)

  2. I think I needed this today...(especially since Anilee's not feeling well, so she's of course clingier than usual).

    1. i hope she recovers soon! (and not just because i'm bored without you guys...)

  3. It is so true! thank you for the reminder especially today when I'm trying to clean up the house and get Coop to help and M is on the floor moaning "mamamama"... btw the first picture looks like boy standing (Des?) is holding crouching boy (Tesla's?) head :)

    1. ah, cleaning with of life's finer pleasures.

      how old is milo now? cooper's turning 4 in february, right??

    2. M is 7.5 months and yes Coop is almost 4! I can't believe Desmond is almost 2! Our boys are growing up way too fast :(