I did something really noteworthy yesterday. I played hide-and-seek.
My little Josh was IT. He covered his eyes. Meggie and I hid in the shower while Josh counted “One…Two…Three… Four… Five… Six…. Eleben. Ready or not, here I come!”
“WHERE COULD THEY BE?” he hollered as he marching right past the bathroom. Meggie and I giggled a little … and then it happened. I stumbled into the faucet and down poured the cold water.
Our shrieks gave us away.
Josh ran into the room, pulled opened the shower door and sang out “There you guys are!” He hugged us both. Cold and wet, we giggled ourselves silly.
The smiles on those little faces were so satisfying.
Our family scrapbooks are full of satisfying smiles. Smiles I snapped pictures of to save for later, without really treasuring them in the present. And as I reminisce, I find myself wishing I had slowed down and savored the moments.
Smiles are magic moments. They are true bliss.
As a mother, I want to give my kids every opportunity in life. I want them to succeed in the world and be happy. And I run myself ragged trying to accomplish this lofty goal. But in the magic moments, like this one, I see things a little differently.
Children need to be played with. They need to be cherished and enjoyed. And as we enjoy them, we plant the seeds of value deep in their heart. They know they are worth our time and our attention.
Helping our children build self-esteem is the key to parenting success. In order for children to reach their potential for positive development, they must first feel good about who they are. And because children cannot see themselves directly, we as parents become mirrors in which their value is reflected.
Our children’s self-esteem is largely based on the level to which they have been cherished and enjoyed by us.
There is no question that we value our children greatly. We would be devastated if anything happened to them. And we work tirelessly to give them everything we can. But sometimes we take them for granted. We give our time and attention to chores and electronic distractions, but we forget to save some for them. I know I have been guilty of this.
Children are smart. They know when they have our focused attention, and they know when they do not. And when they don’t, they know what does.
Spending a few minutes each day,
Deliberately slowing things down,
Being present in the moment,
And focused on them,
Is the best concrete evidence we can give our children of their value.
Some of my best childhood memories are of the times my parents played with us. I remember my dad coming home from work in his cowboy boots and hat. He would go downstairs to work on the amazing wooden grandfather clock he was building in the basement. And if we followed him he would chase us around and tickle us. I also remember my mother reading to us. In the car. On our bedroom floor. On the living room couch. In the hallway. I remember watching her lips move as she read and enjoying the adventures we shared together. Those are times I remember feeling happy and secure.
Sometimes I work so hard to give my children everything I didn’t have, that I forget to give them what I did have. I had parents who were present in my life and who gave me the gift of their attention.
Genuine attention doesn’t take planning. The more spontaneous, the better! All it really takes is discipline against our own mental inertia. It is so much easier to find a mindless distraction. But just like going to the gym, we may not want to do it, but we’re always glad when we do.
At my house the kids beg for my attention. And I’m a busy momma just like you, so I set a fifteen minutes timer in which I am all theirs. Sometimes fifteen minutes isn’t long enough, but usually it is. Fifteen minutes is less time than it takes to check my Facebook feed, but it’s just enough time for a meaningful encounter.
I’ve got to go now. My girls just brought up the basket of little ponies. For fifteen minutes I’m going to be very busy enjoying their smiles.