More Than Enough

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 01-05-2012

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Since last week, I’ve started to write this blog 182 times (maybe more). Each time I begin, I’m derailed by the temptation to instead write about tantrums, as they’ve been ruling our life these days. But, the truth is, for my own well being, I cannot give the tantrums any more energy than they already sap me of. As difficult as it may be, I have to alter my parenting perspective. I must think about, and focus on, constructive things – which might in fact, be at the heart of the tantrums anyhow.

Speaking of heart – mine has both expanded, and been torn, since having Z almost 7 weeks ago. DJ has had a harder time adjusting than we expected, but I think that’s more a result of our naivety than a testament to her ability to accept change. As much as we prepared DJ, it’s like labor itself, there’s just no way to predict exactly how it will go. It’s been painful, at times, to see DJ floundering to express her complex and jumbled emotions.

In an attempt to ensure she remains certain of my love for her, I’ve been making a point of carving out time for just she and me.  Whether it’s reading a few books together behind closed doors, digging in the sandbox, snuggling at night before bed, or a special date outside the house – I’m trying to do this a few times a week. It’s good for us both.

Last week, we took the dogs for a walk before dinner while the hubs and Z stayed behind. I had an agenda. I planned to get into DJ’s head by asking her questions about her feelings. I planned to validate her feelings, to load her up with praise, and to tell her how much I love her. I figured we’d come home feeling cleansed, and lighter from having cleared the weight of doubt, jealousy and insecurity.

Unfortunately, my agenda was trumped for random questions about barking dogs, and an impromptu lesson on what “territorial” means. My deep thoughts were interrupted for observations about ants, falling leaves and blooming flowers. We giggled while our dogs’ leashes tangled and tripped us up, and we guessed at what kind of birds made the loud chirping sounds we heard as we strolled along. No matter how many times I tried to push my Cliff Notes onto my little girl, she steered me right back to her 2 1/2 year old world.

DJ lives in the moment, and she desperately wants me to exist in that same space with her.  Don’t all of our children want that from us? Isn’t that all they’re longing for? For us to be present. Totally present.

I fall short of that so often.  And while laundry must get done, and the house has to be vacuumed and dinner has to be made, and Z must be fed – I also must remember to stop, often, and check in with DJ. On her level, about her world. About what’s important and interesting to her at any given moment.

On Sunday, I took her for her first manicure and pedicure – which really just meant she got her nails painted.  I made a really big deal out of how this was a special mommy/daughter date, and then I let her lead, no agenda.  This meant that I bit my tongue as she chose the sparkly purple polish color, and chatted about things like hot chocolate, bubbles and bears. I refrained from overcompensating for my guilt over my split attention since having Z. Rather than bolstering DJ up with fluffy words regarding my love for her, I was just present instead.  It felt really good.  She was beaming, and I was free from the pressure to make an impact of some sort – that part happened organically.

I keep thinking about a song that we sing in church, called “More Than Enough.” While of course it wasn’t written from the perspective of a toddler to her parents, I can’t help but relate the lyrics to my relationship with my daughter.  I can’t help but hear her sweet voice singing these words to me:

“All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough”

In my busiest, most frustrating moments – I’m going to try to remember that for my daughter, I’m more than enough, so I must stop and be there.  Really be there.

Dating our children!

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Posted by MissyHall | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 21-03-2012

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While we are waiting…we will date our children.

I’m starting a new series about the things that fill our minds and our moments as we prepare to open our hearts and home to our future child. Each day I think about him/ her and wonder if he/she has even been born yet, or is healthy, or is safe… I wonder and I wait and wait and wait.

We are at the point where there is nothing left to do, but to wait for a phone call. Days…Weeks…Months…

Each holiday that passes – even the silly little ones like St. Patty’s Day – leave me wondering if next year I’ll be buying some little green socks for some little person who calls this place home.

So, while we are waiting, we will cultivate the relationships that we have.  We will enjoy the extra time that we have with Brother Bear and Sister Bear and we will take the time to “deposit” into those relationships.  Some days are very trying and full of constant push-back.  It seems like most of the words that come of mouth are corrections (Don’t run in the house! How many times have I asked you to put on your shoes? No, you may not eat that now! Please don’t “swim” in that mud puddle…do you do the wash?…for real, that exact phrase came out of my mouth last week!)  I know that discipline and gentle correction are an inevitable part of parenting, but some days  weeks feel so off balance!  Those “withdrawals” can really start to wear on our relationship and that’s when I know it is time to schedule a date with my child.

When your family grows, (whether though adoption or childbirth…or to make it even broader, through a grandparent having to move in)   there are certain “withdrawals” that happen in the existing family relationships.  Maybe the normal bedtime routine is altered while mommy is feeding baby, maybe dad misses a baseball game while he takes that child for an appointment.

There will be adjustments all around, so as we prepare for our family dynamics to change, we want to make sure that we have regular set-aside time just to “date” our children and check in on them.  I want to be able to sit across from my son while we eat ice cream and draw out the entire story about the girl who lied to him at recess. I want to encourage him, let him know I am listening with both ears (you know?!), and intentionally use my words to build him up.  I want to sit next to my girl while we get our toes painted, listen intently and laugh with her as she tells made up jokes (like: “Why do zebras cross the road? …Chicken Noodle!…in her mind it must make sense :)) I want to purposely point out how I see and appreciate her creativity and joy.

It will be important for us to have one-on-one time with our future child, as well, so that we can even continue to dialogue about his/her feelings about being in a new home, having new siblings, and growing up with whatever story brought him/her to us.  But, for now, I can only dream of those moments and what that future child will want to do on his/her special date days!

Here are the Date Wheels I made with my little muffins earlier this year.

I picked three things that I love to enjoy with them and they each picked three of their own.  (I was quite surprised by Sister’s plan to “play football at a park” with me!) We always say that these dates are not about getting something, but rather they are about time building up the most important relationships!  (Daddy does his own special traditions with each of the kids and it usually involves sweets, starbucks or shoe shopping! He also has a bit of an “agenda” to show our daughter how a man should treat a “woman”…opening doors and what not.  And his “agenda” with our boy is to teach him ways to grow in virtues of courage and conviction. I fall in love with Hunnie each time he takes our kids out!)

Sometimes we don’t even need to go out…you know you can have a perfectly good snuggle date! Sometimes we set aside some major snuggle time in the morning (or afternoon) with time to chill in bed and chat and play.  We first play the rhyme game (I start with a word like “chip” and then you go back in forth with “dip”, “slip”, etc until one person cannot think of a new one) Then,  the i- love- you- more- game (you know this one…you think of crazy things like: i love you more than all the little pieces of sand in your dirty lizards’ cage). And then, the plant- a- tree game (where you tell a story as you scratch it out on your kid’s back like this: first, farmer Missy planted a tiny green seed, and every day she watered it…) Starting the day like that instead of “Hurry, Hurry, Hurry” sure feels better! (Can’t wait to teach these things to our future child, too…But, today, I’ll wait.

What are some things you do to spend sweet one-on-one time really listening and intentionally building up the ones you love…especially if you are in a season of waiting for…whatever it may be?

Here’s to some Happy Dating!

~Missy