There are a lot of things I need to work on as a parent. But there are also a lot of things I do well and am proud of. While I still sometimes struggle with my decision to be a working mom, I have dedicated myself to being an active and engaged mom in the time I have with N. I consciously and proactively take steps to make sure my personal needs and our home’s needs are taken care of during N’s naps or after bedtime, to the best of my ability, and I take full advantage of lunch hours and my fairly flexible work schedule so that I can maximize the connection and experiences N and I share. But I am always looking for ways and ideas to be more engaged and a better mom.
I am currently reading the book Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford. I am only about 30 percent of my way through the book but, already, I have had “aha” moments as well as feelings of extreme pride as I realize I have implemented some of the suggested tactics both consciously and without even knowing it. As I was reading the other night, I noticed the author was pounding the message about the importance of connecting with our kids. I began to think about the moments that I really, really connect with N and the choices that I make to assist in these times of connection. One of the first things I realized was: almost every time I am in the same room with N, I choose to sit on the floor.
For some reason, above many other things, this stuck out to me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this was a key factor in many of the moments I’m engaged with N. While we love to have adventures and experience new activities and places, many of my favorite moments with him are simply playing with or reading to him. When I come away from these moments I feel full and refreshed. In deciding to share this with you, I tried to really think about why this seems so important to me and to my connection with him.
First and foremost, it seems like sitting on the floor with N takes me to his level and makes me equal with him. I have read in various articles including here, that children feel more comfortable when you are at their level. When I am sitting and he is standing, we are at eye level which allows us to have an even deeper connection. I also find we more easily engage this way as we are just physically more comfortable; I’m not looking down at him and he’s not looking up at me. It is much easier to do activities together like grabbing books to read or puzzles to complete, singing songs, playing hand games or whatever.
Moving to the floor also takes me away from my distractions. I can’t see the dishes on the counter, I can less easily run to change a load of laundry, I don’t notice the computer or my phone on the table, and, even if the TV is on in the background, I don’t seem to hear it. I am focused on what is right in front of me and N gets my full attention. In these moments, I’m letting him know that I want to be with him and that there isn’t anything more important than sharing this time with him. I believe this helps to instill confidence in him and shows the love I have for him.
As we play together, I’m really getting to know him. Among many other things I’m sure, I’m learning his play style, what frustrates him, the things that make him giggle, what he loves, what he has no time for, how he likes to learn, what he is proud of, and how he expresses emotion. We review colors, animals, shapes, numbers, letters and many other important concepts during this time. We visit and have conversations. Although, much of what he says right now, I don’t fully understand. However, I am setting the groundwork for a future, open and communicative relationship with my son.
Sitting on the floor makes me feel like a kid. I can be more playful and I worry less about feeling silly. Before I know it, I am creating and imagining right along side of N. During this time, I let go and try not to take myself too seriously. I let my son lead and I succumb as he reintroduces me to what it feels like to be so lighthearted.
Lastly, each day as I watch my little man grow and change, I am reminded that he will only be little for a short time. He wants me to play with him right now, I am one of his favorite people, he is happy to hold my hand and giggle with me, and he actually thinks life is better when I’m around. The truth is he won’t forever, or at the least, there will be phases where he won’t. Although I continue to be surprised by how fun each new phase is with him, I’m sure I will look back at these moments and miss and yearn for them. So, while I have them, you can be dang sure, I will take advantage of them.