There’s something maddening about being stuck indoors for days on end with your kids in a snowstorm over the holidays. Something completely maddening and yet freeing and unbelievably beautiful all at the same time. Now that my family has settled into my son’s first week back at school, my husband is back to his work routine, and I’m off and running with a new work/play schedule, I am glad that we had the time over the holidays to be free of rigid structure, constant obligation. I have always loved my two kidlets more than the moon, but something magical happened over the holidays: I fell in love with them all over again, as they are now and in the present. I saw them — truly saw all of their lovely individual personality quirks and needs — and just fell madly in love with them for being who they are. I would never change a single thing about either of them.
My kids have always had their own differing personalities. One has always been outgoing, constantly happy, fearless, and easy to adapt to new places, people and has had no problem ever breaking from routine. The other has always been cautious, skeptical, sound sensitive, anxious in social settings and whose happiness has been bound by exactness and routine. One loves to eat, the other doesn’t. One had constant sleep issues from the very beginning, while the other quite enjoys naps and sleeping soundly through the night. Sure, they have many similarities –both love music, have a quirky sense of humor, and enjoy a good game of tag– but as we all grow up together, I am trying my best to appreciate and nurture their individual needs at the same time. It can be challenging, since their needs often conflict with one another, but I’m really trying to listen to them more, to hear what their actions and cries are trying to tell me. And I’m trying to stop… stop whatever it is I am doing, stop always running, stop being in a hurry, stop doing and just being, so that …
oh look! Neil Patrick Harris is hosting SNL tonight! Love him! Sadly, I am not his type. Ah well.
Anyway, where was I… ;-) See this is what mothering does. We do a million things at the same time, that our thoughts can’t keep up. No wonder our kids think we’re nuts — we are! And I try, I really try not to let my mind be taken over my a million different thoughts and obligations when my kids need me. But the reality is, there are always a million different obligations that don’t stop when our kids need us. What I am trying to remember is that I can’t stop the obligations, but I can stop myself. I control the time I spend with my kids, and when I’m there, really there listening to their individual cries and needs, I not only fall in love with them all over again, but I’m allowing them to sort of fall in love again with me. Sure, I am their mother, but they are under no obligation to love me, and I don’t take that for granted one second. I need to earn their love and respect too. In this respect, Carol Brady had it all wrong: I can’t possibly love them all the same, because they are not the same. I need to love them as they each need and want to be loved, and only then can they begin to love and respect me back.
So that’s what I’ve been trying to work on more and more each day: learning to nurture, love, respect and respond to my kids’ very individual needs with all that I can give, fully in the moment. I can’t say I am 100% successful at this, but man, this feeling of falling in love all over again with my kids? It’s intense. It’s addictive. It’s the greatest high I’ve ever had (college friends need not comment on this please). And I will do anything to keep this mad love coming back in such a rush day in, day out.