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.
Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins, The Preschool Mommy | Posted on 10-01-2012
Well friends, yet another chapter closes in this adventurous book called “Life.” Last week I transitioned out of the part time position managing a Silicon Valley entrepreneur’s calendar, which I’ve had since April. It was a bittersweet time – though admittedly, aired on the sweeter side.
The job was a great fit for me. It’s an exciting start-up company, whose vision I truly believe in. I was surrounded by really talented, and down-to-earth people. Most importantly though, it served a great purpose in my life as it helped coach me through the identity crisis that I was having about becoming a stay-at-home mom. It gave me an outlet – a place to be someone other than a mother, a place to think about things other than snacks, discipline, and potty training. It gave me a place to be an adult.
However, it also helped me realize that my heart was at home. As much as I thought I needed a place that was just mine, after several months of trying to fit working hours into my already full day, I realized that my special place was, in fact, found in motherhood. I have often told people that when I decided to work part time, I hadn’t simultaneously decided to cut back on my hours of being a mom. So, there was a constant conflict of interest – and conflict of the heart. I never actually wanted to take time away from DJ, and slowly, I realized that my time with her was indeed slipping away. It was time to make a change. It was time to get back to the job I was really called to do.
On Thursday, after the final day of training my replacement, DJ and I went out for ice cream. It was such a sweet time of celebration. While she didn’t know what we were celebrating, I am certain that she felt my presence. I was there, really there with her for the first time in several months. I didn’t feel the need to pull out my iPhone and check my email as we were sitting there. I wasn’t preoccupied with thoughts about which meetings I still needed to confirm. I wasn’t in a hurry to get home to craft an email to someone before the end of the day. I was just there. Savoring every sticky bite, and hanging onto DJ’s every word. Man, she’s a cool kid.
It was really important to me that I planned for alone time with DJ before our second baby girl comes along. I always knew that I wanted at least one month of not working before my due date. But, as the end of 2011 approached, I realized that one month just wasn’t long enough for me. That’s when I pushed for a January transition. And now, I am so, so grateful that I worked in a supportive enough environment that this request was honored.
As my due date gets closer…..less than 3 months away, I am sitting in the midst of the most precious season. I am totally and completely committed to giving DJ 100% of my attention, while also earnestly awaiting the arrival of her sister. I am teetering between a love that I know intimately well, and a love that I can only imagine. I am realizing that this is an extraordinary and significant time of my life. In another 3 months, I will be a mom of two. I will be sharing my time, my heart, my patience, my strength, my dedication. I will be raising two lovely girls – and I will, inevitably, wonder where I’ve gone at some point. Sooner or later, I will dream about a part time job. I will dream about a place that belongs to just me.
And then, I will remember this week.
I will remember the freedom that I have felt in leaving a job that I appreciated. I will remember the look in DJ’s eyes as we sat and ate ice cream cones until her very last bite. I will remember the weight lifted off my shoulders as I closed my laptop and didn’t feel the need to reopen it after dinnertime. I will remember what it felt like this morning, to sit and watch the full 75 minutes of Milo and Otis with DJ without once checking email.
As I get more and more excited to meet this baby girl, I am also feeling more and more protective of my time with DJ. I am realizing that the sacrifices of parenting never cease….that even when you’re blessed to be a stay-at-home mom, you still struggle to create more time with your children. You still fight the distractions of every day life, the temptations that you’re somehow missing out on something, or that you could be happier if you were just doing more for yourself.
Last night, as I tucked DJ in and lied down next to her (yes, I still lay beside her every single night until she falls asleep despite all of the experts who tell me not to), she said “I want to go in your arms, mommy.” So, I took her tightly in my arms, and she said “Keep me safe, mommy.” I whispered back, “Always.” In that moment, I knew that keeping her safe simply meant being present with her. Whether holding her in my arms, or playing along with whatever her imagination conjures up, or listening – really, really listening when she talks….it is my job, and more importantly, my privilege to be present with her.
I am fortunate to get to be with her day in and day out. I know that not everyone has this opportunity, and I certainly don’t take it for granted. I am not claiming to be a better mom because I have more time with her. What does make me a better mom (for DJ, not in comparison to others), however, is the ability and courage to end one chapter because I can see that the beginning of the next is so much more beautiful.