Thursday, May 07, 2009

Enjoying Childhood Before it's Gone

Down the street lives a family with a couple kids who've grown up and left home and one little three-year-old boy - it seems they had a nice little surprise there on the end. I don't know this family very well but I see the dad, I'll call him Jim, and his son, I'll call him Samuel, out walking together quite a bit and I've chatted with them a few times. Jim is a stay-at-home dad and seems like the nicest most gentle man, always following his little son around and stopping when the little guy wants to stop, looking at whatever the little guy wants to show him. They're always moving along at a very slow pace. And Samuel always looks so happy. It seems like maybe Jim has decided that his older kids' childhood passed too quickly and he's really making the most of this last chance to really enjoy the beauty of childhood.

After driving past Jim and Samuel the other day, it struck me that I really need to learn from Jim's example. I don't think I EVER just go at my kids' pace for more than a few moments or do what they feel like doing without saying "just a minute" about 100 times. I seldom really thoroughly focus on what my kids are saying for very long. And I'm not good at really enjoying what they want me to enjoy with them. I'm afraid I'm quite guilty of having my mind on the many other things I need to be doing most of the time, rather than on the present moment. And I always feel like I have so many people talking to me at once that it's really hard to focus on any one kid for more than a few seconds.

Seeing Jim and Samuel as they ramble around the neighborhood always reminds me that I should slow down more and put the kids' priorities a little higher on my own priority list. And I really need to learn to be in the present more and to clear my mind of thoughts that get in the way of enjoying the moment I'm in. In thinking about the special relationship that Jim and Samuel seem to share, I realize that I really need to get back into a tradition that I used to be pretty good about - taking each kid on their own individual "mommy date" every week or two. I get to know and really enjoy my kids when I can be one-on-one with them. It's hard to make it happen, but really, a mommy date can just be a regular old trip to the grocery store made special by letting my "date" select a favorite cereal or help plan a meal and get the ingredients or a quick run to the car wash (the twins' current favorite mommy date). A walk around the block or quick bike ride also works great. I just need to create more opportunities to really focus on one child at a time.

So I need to figure out the details, but I'm going to be more like Jim - at least sometimes. I don't think I quite have the personality - or the feasibility given the number of kids I have - to follow an individual childs around at a super slow pace and do whatever they want to do all the time. But I know my kids could use more of me - and I know I could use more of them. I don't want to have to have another baby (would have to be adopted) in ten years so that I can enjoy a childhood after realizing I missed out on too much of the childhoods I'm in the midst of right now!


Eyrealm said...

I love this Saren! It's so true that one of our big challenges in raising kids is just slamming ourselves into the moment and staying plastered there...for at least a moment!

Harts said...

I totally agree with you and ironically I was thinking of this topic today. I feel like I am alwyas going going going and most of the time dragging them along. today I set out the sprinkler and Stock looked at me and said, "Please come with us mommy." I finally obliged, ignored dinner and got my swimsuit on and remembered what it felt like to be 5 again. Like you said, you can't do it all the time, but we should more often then not.


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