Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins, The Preschool Mommy | Posted on 01-05-2012
Tags: dates with kids, Gina Perkins, investing, preschool, Preschool Mommy, present, tantrums, time
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.