Friday, July 6, 2012

Time Spent Well

I often lament my mothering (which sounds pathetic as I type it "out loud"). Is mommy guilt is innate? We all have dreams of what life will be like, how we will mother, the relationship we have with our kids. But the reality is, parenting is a lot of work. 

First of all, there's the actual parenting of little people who you may occasionally think exist just to try your patience. Dealing with tantrums, sass and sibling conflict. Then, there's the logistics in just plain living. The nuts and bolts. Laundry, dishes, meals, grocery shopping, vacuuming, endless picking up of toys, etc. Too often I get lost in that. So much to do that I don't enjoy life. I don't enjoy my kids.

I hate that. I'm ashamed of that.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this not enjoying my kids thing. Months being upset about it, having a bad attitude about it. Pouting. Crying, even. I want to love my kids. I want them to know that not only do I love them, but I love being with them.

Part of it is a mindset. If my attitude is different, the air around me is different. My kids' attitudes and behaviors are different. My spouse is different. Life is different.

My house is a disaster right now, and I'm getting bogged down with just the thought of it. Frustration mounts at the amount of tasks and not enough energy or time. I get mad at doing something over and over again, so that I don't even bother. Evidence: My kitchen floor looks like a casualty-filled war zone. It's truly gross. And I'm not being modest. The tot throws food on the floor when he's decided he's done eating, and 3 times a day? Not mopping three times a day. Not mopping three times a week. And if I'm really being honest here, I don't mop three times a month. I just get mad when it gets all messy again, which is dumb. PRIME EXAMPLE of where I need to change my mindset. Also, how many times a day can I clean muddy hand prints off the bathroom sink, or wipe the mirror? sigh. I should not complain. 

In every thing we do we have a choice. So, on the 4th, I made different choices. I sat on the couch and watched two episodes of Army Wives with my hubby, because that's what we like to do. The boys were gone to their cousins, but instead of cleaning the bathroom, I made the split second decision to put on my swimsuit and jumped in the pool with the girls who played with my hair, and sat on the floatie with me. I hung out with them for almost 2 hours. I didn't cook. I didn't clean. I enjoyed the people around me instead. Later, we went to a parade, and I beamed with pride watching my boys in firetrucks. I soaked-in their excitement, their kid-ness, their fun. We sweated together (100 degrees and tropical humidity). We raced for candy. We had snow cones and lit sparklers. We saw fireworks and ate popcorn.

While I often do fun stuff with my kids, I don't always have the best attitude. I take them somewhere so they can have fun, but not me. I don't have the attitude of enjoying them, of enjoying with them. More energy is spent trying to escape - the noise, the hassle, the interruption. I'm embarrassed by that. So yesterday, I dove in. I participated. Was it all fun? No. Was there the usual complaining, mischief and rivalry? Sure. But I didn't focus on that. 

It did my heart good to enjoy my children. To take notice and dote. They need that.  I  need that.

My house is still dirty today, though probably not noticeably dirtier. I still haven't made a meal, there's dishes to do, and mountains of stuff to be done. But I chose to braid the girls' hair. I hugged my boys. I let them eat candy. Hopefully my monkeys will remember that I was present in their day, that I was more than just another body in the room.

(and here is where I would insert a nice photo of the girls' braided hair but my camera battery is dead and I can't find the charger. grr. Story of my life.)

This was my facebook status last night, and I think it sums this up. 

"It was a good day. Time with my love, time with my girls, beamed with pride watching my boys ride in firetrucks, time with my wild man, pool, parade, pizza, popcorn and pyrotechnics. Nothing super spectacular, just a lot of little moments - good ones."

Are you taking time to enjoy the people in your life, or are you putting your focus on things that are less important? Take the time, challenge yourself. Set down the phone, the laundry basket, the book/paper/computer, and join in. You won't regret it.


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