My oldest son was my only son for almost five years. In that time, he received all of my mommy attention, all of my mommy energy, and all of my mommy love. Although he wanted and even begged for a little brother, I’m quite certain that he didn’t realize exactly what that would mean to him personally.
As I look back on the last two years of his life, I suddenly see how much less he has received from me. He has gotten a lot fewer songs sung, a lot fewer books read, a lot less time cuddling, a lot less patience from mommy. I feel guilty that I have been less of a mommy to him since his brother was born. I know WHY it has happened, but that doesn’t make it ok.
I have become an “in a minute” mom as Rachel at FindingJoy so eloquently wrote. Read it. It’s worth your time.
Zander is a very smart child. He is very self-sufficient, even at just 6 1/2 years old. He’s a lot like I was as a child. He likes to think for himself, figure it out for himself, and do it himself. He “needs” me so much less than Wyatt does, or so it seems. His independence has been a blessing in many ways during these two years of nurturing a baby into toddlerhood. When Wyatt has truly needed my full attention, I’ve been able to trust Zander to (usually) occupy himself without wreaking havoc elsewhere.
He can fix his own sandwich, pick out his own clothes (with a little style guidance occasionally), read to himself, brush his own teeth, and a million other things that help me have one less item to check off the list when we’re trying to get out the door, into bed, or whatever we’re doing. He can usually entertain his brother when I’m trying to cook supper in the half hour between us getting home and Michael getting home. He can put his own clothes away…and sometimes even fold them.
The problem comes in when Zander DOES want my attention. Too often I am so wrapped up in everything else that I am unable to just stop and focus on him like he needs and deserves.
He wants me to read a book at 9:00 (when his bedtime is 8:30) just as I have settled Wyatt down to nurse and go to sleep. He wants me to find his socks when I’m trying to get Wyatt dressed and coffee made and stuff gathered and lunches packed so that we can leave the house before EVERYONE is late to work/school. He wants to talk when I want to have a minute to unwind from work or when Wyatt is screaming his head off. He wants a drink, he wants a snack, he can’t find his toy, his movie isn’t playing, he… ACK! He gets “in a minute” and “hold on” and “not right now” and “hush” and…
Of course, that is one of the reasons that I believe that me staying at home is the right choice for our family at this time. I will be able to plan our days to allow a less frenzied evening. I won’t have to try to cram a day’s worth of mothering and homemaking into the three hours between getting home from work and tucking the kids into bed. I’ll have more time and energy to give to them.
That’s something to look forward to, but I still have a young boy at home that needs a better mommy right now. I can’t wait for things to be easier or to have “more” time.
So, starting today, I am making some changes in my home.
- I am going to commit to reading a story and singing a song to my boys every night before bed, no matter what else is going on. It’s a small step that will take no more than 15 minutes in a given night, but it’s a start.
- I am not going to use sarcasm, yelling, or snapping in my communication with Zander. I am going to speak to him with the love that I actually feel for him.
- I am going to take at least 30 minutes each day to truly focus on Zander. I want him to see and know that he is important to me as an individual.
- I am going to allow Zander to be a child, complete with the emotions, imperfections, and energy level that children have. I will be the adult that helps him to handle the emotions, learn from the imperfections, and expend the energy without showing any frustration I may be feeling.
- I am going to measure my success in these steps in progress, not perfection. I will mess up, but that’s ok. What matters is that I am trying.