I took our girls to McDonald’s for breakfast for the very first time in their life the other day. They woke up at a decent time but to get to work and summer camp on time, we had to keep the train moving through the station, so to speak.
It wasn’t a rushed morning but we were all busy staying on track.
When we finally got to McDonald’s and the girls finally chose a seat that we could all agree on, and we finally had the pancakes all cut up and the bagel sandwich cut in pieces so that two nearly toothless girls could eat … well, I finally looked up.
Liana had braided Jadyn’s hair in a tiny strand along the side of her head. It was a subtle braid.
But I had missed it entirely. All morning. For like an hour.
Then, I looked at Liana.
She, too, had a given herself a braid along her bangs and tied it back with a barrette.
When did they grow up to do braids and each others’ hair?
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the details of everyday living that it’s just as easy to miss the simple details of a child growing up.
I pride myself on not missing a beat as a parent but even I — who writes a blog on intentional parenting — miss things.
Zen and the art of paying attention is a practice and if we’re not careful we’ll miss it all. Since this blog is about intentional parenting, let’s talk intentional parenting.
The concept of an intention on listening came to me last Saturday. I was at a silent retreat where all you could do was listen. For six hours, no talking. No talking!
During that retreat, we did a lot of meditation as well. Yet during our breaks my mind kept racing and what I came around and around to was this:
Man, we talk a lot as human beings.
So while we’re busy listening this week, here’s a few ways to really notice your child. By notice, I really mean appreciate. By appreciate, I mean fall in love with them all over again day after day after day.
- Stare at them. As our babies turn to toddlers who turn to big kids who can do it all by themselves, it’s so easy to stop looking at them with that same loving gaze we gave them when they were doing so many firsts — first sit up, first spit up, first crawl, first steps. Now that they have mastered many things, the firsts are fleeting. All the more to pay attention to them when they happen. Notice their beauty. First braids. First time doing each other’s hair. Noted.
- Listen to them. My daughters have never had to get my attention by saying Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy. But, that doesn’t mean I’m always the best listener. This week I have been hearing my children’s thoughts in a much deeper way. I’ve let their words roll through my mind. I’ve repeated what they’ve said back to me. I’ve been impressed with their use of words like literally, which was used incorrectly, and definitely and fantastic and apparently. My goodness, such big words for such little girls, I keep thinking. When did they get such a mature vocabulary? Noted.
- Go with their flow. At the silent retreat, our theme of the day was flowing water. Children are the river. We try to be those rocks and dams built up along the path of the river but the water just glides right over us. We cannot control the way it flows. We cannot control how it expands with the seasons. I like to watch my children’s seasons unfold. For instance, every summer at this time they start to get up early. I know this because every year right before the time falls back an hour, they are already early risers and I worry how the time change will affect our days. Every year at this time, one of my girls has trouble sleeping overnight and wakes us. These are consistent weather patterns with them. What patterns are you noticing in your child’s life?
- What do they love? In our house, we call it filling our buckets. We, as parents, often know what makes us happy … but what about our children? What brings those amazing smiles to their faces? If you pay enough attention, you will figure it out. Our more challenging daughter — the angry bird– loves smells and touch. I know that I can instantly calm her with a tempting new lotion or candle or the soft touch of my nails against her arm. I also know that she loves soft things like soft blankets and pillows. Our other daughter loves stuffed animals, anything magical like fairies and books and music. She’s mesmerized by any of those things. Children are funny. They don’t always know what makes them happy. We have to pay attention and help them figure these things out. Nice lotions. Noted.
- Write it down. So, each night before bed for nearly two years I have been writing a gratitude journal. This has become my magical moments journal — a name a kind reader gave me that fits perfectly. I find that I tend to really seek out the sacred moments experienced with my family, friends and writing. By taking time to reflect on each of my children before I sleep, I am noticing the good in our days together. And, lucky for me, I’ll have a great little pile of memories to sit back and read once they are grown and out on their own. These daily reflections amaze me each night. Some nights, I’ll admit, I have to search very hard for what I’m grateful for — but with intense focus, I always, always uncover five things from my day — with two or three little gems from being a Mama.
These moments … these are the sacred moments of motherhood. These are the times when my heart wants to burst out in joyful fireworks. I want more of these moments. Truly.
And, in order to enjoy some more sacred moments and space with my girls before and as they start first grade, I’m going to take a little blog post writing break for a couple weeks. I’ll be on Facebook and Pinterest and checking email but as a writer, I know that I need to give my mind some space. The summer e-course and the eBook were great but time consuming. I plan to recharge and return refreshed and ready to offer up some great posts to get us through fall and winter.
Let me say this. You will want to pay attention to when I return because I have some magical things in store. Oh yes I do.
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