Thursday, August 28, 2008

I don't want to miss it...

I was at Target with some returns a few weeks ago when the cashier decided to engage me in casual conversation. My girls were with me per usual, and while they weren't being disobedient or rambunctious, their behavior was....childish! (They are after all, children!) If I recall, Lauren was probably doing her best to convince me to unbuckle her from the cart and hold her and Lydia was likely dancing around talking to me non-stop about basically anything and everything. Our conversation went something like this:

Her: "Cute girls."

Me: "Thank you."

Her: "How old are they?"

Me: "Three and one."

Her: Do you stay home with them?

Me: Yes, I do. They certainly keep me busy, but I love being home with them.

Her: I have one kid. He's in daycare. (Lauging) That way someone else gets to chase him around all day!

I hope I didn't appear as bothered as I felt my her glib remark. I walked away wondering why a person who feels that way about her child even has children... This is not meant to be a diatribe against mothers who work outside the home. Her comment just caused me to think...."Do strangers (or even friends) see how I interact and react to my children and wonder if I am happy with my life?"
I can get too focused on "my agenda" and what I need or want to get done in a day. I've realized it's not enough for the kids just to be happy or entertained during a day while I check things off my list. I want to engage them more and spark creative thoughts and ideas, even while they are very young. Sometimes I stop and really think about all that my three-year-old is learning and absorbing and I realize that I have an opportunity, a choice really, to influence her to teach her in so many ways. Of course this means managing my time better, spreading out my daily tasks and maybe even letting go of "me time." ("Me time" could warrant a whole other post!!)

Well, this week I have endeavored to do better, and I can see a difference in the girls, especially Lydia. I have made a concerted effort just to get down on the floor and play with them more. Not that I haven't done that previously, but this week, instead of watching and waiting for them to "need" me, I took a more active role. We have built forts and tents in their rooms everyday.(A huge hit with both girls.) We have played hide-and-seek (usually under Lauren's crib - her fav. little "spot"). I have had every non-deadly bodily injury I can think of to keep my little doctor busy. We have cooked many, many meals in the play kitchen including detailed discussions of what foods are most healthy, what foods are most yummy, and what foods should only be treats. We have worked on counting and addition and subtraction, using our stash of beaded necklaces! We have built castles and towers with the blocks. The Little People family and farmers have been introduced to a whole world on the floor, under the desk and in the cubbies of the girls' rooms.

I have also begun putting Lauren in her crib for a mid-morning "rest." She has become unusually fussy around this time and I finally just decided this is how I would deal with it. Amazingly, it seems to calm her down and in a way, adjust her attitude. Regardless of how fussy she might have been while we were all playing, she never cries when I put her in the crib. She seems fairly content with her newfound "alone" time. I have used this opportunity to do "schooling" (this is Lydia's term for it) more regularly with Lydia. She LOVES learning to write her letters, which is the bulk of what we do. Sometimes we do a little craft too. I have made it a priority to sit there with her to do the crafts along with her. She has enjoyed it, and so have I.

Like my cousin, I too occasionally read the blogs of people I do not know. Some posts are so insightful, some quite crafty and creative and others are just so eloquently and succinctly written that I can't help but enjoy reading! I realize that my blog doesn't really fall into any of those categories, (sometimes to my chagrin!)but today, I just thought I'd share something that has really made a difference in our day to day life. I guess when you boil it down, it is most simply, a different perspective and a change of attitude for me!


Kelley said...

Jen, I agree wholeheartedly with everything in your post. I was pondering the other day how much of a joy children are and how we, stay at home moms especially, have the opportunity and joy to live life with them. Not just getting through the day with a little one but enjoying the moments with them. I have been making the same efforts with Greta this week. One of her favorite activities is to be chased around with me on my hands and knees and then she chases me around. This so simple activity brings her endless joy. I also try to talk more to her when we are out and about just commenting on what I see. Since she really doesn't talk back sometimes I fall into the trap of not talking to her assuming she's not listening.

To the girl at target - I feel privileged to be the one who chases Greta around all day.

Elizabeth said...

Great post! I feel this, too! I am so grateful that Kate's time in "daycare" with her Aunt Jenny gives her so much one on one time, that it might be a struggle for me to put everything aside and color, play "tabow" (playdoh), or sing & dance like a crazy woman! I try to reserve some special time before she goes to bed for one on one reading, singing, and just following her lead. Thanks for this great reminder! I love the images you gave us of forts & hide & seek under Laurie's bed. And, I especially love the image of Greta & Kelley playing cat & mouse.

Beth said...

Ditto here, Jen. While I obviously work outside the home, I do enjoy every moment I get with my children. A girl at work asked me if I had Bryan in an after-school program. When I said 'no' -- she was surprised. She didn't understand why I'd want him home as soon as school was out!!! I could hardly believe it. The only response I could give was, "I really enjoy my children and want them with me as much as possible."
Lately, here with Emily -- we've been printing "My Little Pony" coloring sheets off the internet and having fun with the crayons!

K. Humby said...

Thanks again, Jen for sharing. I know how easy it can be with little ones to assume that because they can't talk or ... talk too much :) that "mommy" can just take more time for herself. However, God certainly didn't intend for us to pursue other things to the neglect of His most precious little ones. After all, we are only the caretakers and overseers. It is such a struggle,and I will be the first to state my own areas of discontent that like to surface when "stuck" at home at times. It is such an encouragement to hear your ideas and read your day to day activities. I am always looking for new things to do or new ways to approach a situation.

Beth said...

Jen, It's been a while since I've dropped by and so I had lots to catch up on when I got here. I have to say that I loved the slide show of Lauren's birthday...the picture of her in the sink with her leg extended made me chuckle. The video of Lydia feeding Lauren just made me laugh. Too, too funny and it's great that you caught it all on video.

Elizabeth said...

I just caught a quick re-read of this Jen. Such a great post! Again.