A lot of the moments in my life feel insignificant, but probably because I'm aware of the incredible magnitude of responsibility that has been handed to me in the raising of four children. Who I am is going to influence who my children will become, and that's a pretty daunting task. I used to stress out by all of the things I wasn't doing for my children, comparing myself to other moms who had it more "together." But lately, even though I've been falling behind in my responsibilities with my housekeeping, I've been doing a little bit better in being more tuned in into my children's needs.
I realized that expressing love for my children was more important than having all of my chores done. I've started embracing the little moments with my 2-year old, and instead of being frustrated with him all day long, I'm learning to sit down and let him climb into my lap and give me wet kisses. I love it, and I can't believe I was missing out on them. I used to get frustrated because he wouldn't let me read to him, but now, I'm okay with him choosing a book, sitting in my lap, and letting him look through the book at his own pace. He never was a child who enjoyed being sung to, so I guess I kind of resented him for telling me "No!" when I tried to sing him lullabies. Now, I ask if I can sing to him, and I ask him what songs I can sing, and I can enjoy him looking into my eyes as I sing one dumb simple song, because I'm showing him love the way he needs it. Even though he can't communicate very well with me, I'm learning that he can sit quiet while I softly talk to him, because this is something he needs. Just because he can't tell me stories doesn't mean that I can't tell him stories. As child number 3, I'm afraid that I've been leaving him to entertain himself like the older 2 boys while I focus my efforts on my baby. I need to refocus on him and his needs, and make sure that our bond deepens as I show him that I love him.
For anyone who knows my 5-year old, he can be pretty obstinate when he wants to be. I'm learning to apologize to him when I've frustrated him, and I can explain why I've gotten angry with him, or why I've taken away his privilege, and he's starting to come around more. Just last night, when I took him to bed, he ended up getting angry at me for something (I wish I could remember what!), and he ended up throwing some toys off his table that I had just picked up. Instead of yelling at him, I punished him calmly, and while he cried, I explained why he had made me upset. Sure I was angry, and I told him to get into bed. I didn't want to bother with his prayer. But when he cried louder, I asked him what was wrong, and he said that he needed to say his prayer. Humbled, I knelt down beside him. Instantly, his demeanor changed, and he said the sweetest prayer, asking to not only be nicer to his brothers, but that I could start feeling well. I couldn't believe how he thought to pray for me when just a minute before, he had been so angry with me!! I hugged him, and told him how grown-up he was getting. I'm learning that despite his stubbornness, he can still be a big softy as long as I'm willing to humble myself, and to explain myself. Today, he showed a lot more affection towards me, and I loved it. I guess all he really needs is gentle communication to feel safe and loved.
As a mom, I still have lots of flaws that I'm working on overcoming, but I'm happy to say that in the past few days, I've been improving little by little. We bought "The Magic Treehouse" series to read to our children, and I have read one book a night to my older two for the past 2 weeks. It's a nice time where we sit together, read, talk, and enjoy a quiet 35 minutes together. I let my 6-year old know how much I loved him by making him a card (since he loves making me cards), and I am trying to sit with my baby and read with him.
It's hard trying to meet the emotional needs of four very young children, but if I can make a conscious effort to view them as little individuals who want to feel wanted, loved and important, then I think I can do a little bit more than I did before. I shouldn't beat myself up for the kitchen floor that desperately needs to be swept and mopped, or the laundry that is once again turning into a towering monster. As a mother, my first priority is my children's well-being, and if having a messy house for a few years is a result of my efforts towards them, then so be it. After all, it's the little things in life that add up to make a great life, and in the end, it won't matter if my children had to re-wear a pair of dirty socks.