Monday, 1 December 2014

Choosing to be a present parent

I wrote this one a little while back & forgot to hit 'publish'. I hope it inspires you to spend some more precious time with your child and be fully present....

"Mum, mum, look at me!" my daughter squeals from outside on the back deck.

"Mum!" she calls out again. "You're not looking." 

I look up briefly from my phone to see her attempt a hand stand which looks more like a frog hopping.

"That's great," I respond in my mono-tone, disinterested voice. I am busy. I am replying to a message on my phone. I am writing a grocery list. I am cooking my breakfast and I am trying to find the hair brush. 

I miss the moment. I've missed many moments. 

The other night I was putting my daughter Isabella to bed when I noticed myself rushing. I just wanted to get it over with so I could eat my dinner and relax. I was in the middle of telling her a bed-time story when my eyes locked with hers. Her deep ocean blue eyes, similar to my own, were peering out from her long, dark lashes. Her eyes were full of anticipation and enchantment at my little story.  My heart melted. She adores this time with me. As I looked at her, I felt a little voice within me say, that it won't be long before she grows up. It won't be long before she's a teenager and these times will just be a precious memory. I need to embrace these moments, not rush them. 

I looked at my daughter, her golden syrup coloured hair fanned out over her pink, checkered pillow. Her plump, pink cheeks and innocent smile. 

I stopped rushing and slowed down. I lay down beside her on my tummy, looked her in the eyes and continued my story. 

This time, I soaked it all in. I wanted to remember this moment. I wanted to remember the way we stayed "up late" having a little chat once the story was over. How she wanted me to be with her and share conversation with her.

After I said a little prayer for her and got up to leave she said, "Mum, can you just lay here with me for awhile?"

I hesitated. I didn't want her needing me right beside her as she falls asleep. Then, I figured, why not? I don't think she'll want me snuggling with her she's 14! 

I laid back down and draped by arm over her little body and snuggled in next to her.

"You know, when you were a baby I got to cuddle you all the time," I said softy.

"I wish I could be baby again," she replied in a whisper.

I laid there, cradling her in my arms, and thinking how she was still so young. She's only four years of age. In just four years she's had to go from a tiny, dependable baby to a little girl where much is expected of her. Sometimes I see that struggle within her, the fight for independence and yet a need for me to still be beside her.

I watched her little, round moon face as her eyes flickered up at mine. She was trying to hold my gaze but her eyelids were slowly becoming heavier. I could feel her body start to relax as her hands went limp next to mine and her breathing became steadier.

It didn't take long for her to fall asleep, perhaps five minutes. It was five minutes I was so happy to have spent right beside her and not rushing about the kitchen or replying to emails. Those things can wait. Time is ticking and my little girl is growing up more and more each day. I want to choose to stop racing through the day and embrace the moment, to be undistracted and present.