quality time, please 

I read this article today (What Mothers Want for Mother’s Day) and found myself nodding throughout … though I’m pretty sure it’s not just working moms who feel this way.

All moms probably want more time in the day to spend quality time with their kids — time that isn’t spent schlepping them from activity to activity or feeding/clothing/bathing them. And as a working-outside-the-home mom, this article definitely rings (sadly) true.

If I could stretch the hours of 6-8 PM … and make them last much longer … I’d be a happy camper.

Ideally, all our time together would be quality time, especially since it’s so limited.

But like most families with two parents working, our mornings are, for lack of a better work, a cluster.  It’s usually a battle of the wills to get everyone out the door in the morning — made worse by the fact that my husband is not a morning person and the fact that I find myself increasingly impatient with Maya the older and more autonomous she gets. I swear, by the day she is getting louder and sassier towards me, which makes me raise my voice just to command attention … and doesn’t work. Yet I do it anyway out of frustration.

It’s a vicious cycle I want to break but, as Heather Spohr recently blogged about, it’s hard. This stage is hard.

Someone has to be the bigger person. And I hate being wrong.

Rationally, I know if I use softer, gentler words I might get a better response from her, but she is stubborn and so am I. So mornings are often fraught with challenges.

But then she goes and asks me for an Eskimo kiss (our thing) as I leave for work this morning or comes over to me randomly and asks to snuggle … and I melt. Breathing her in. No longer smelling like a little baby … now her hair smells fruity and her skin isn’t quite as soft. It’s lived a little. It’s learned a lot.

Yet she’s still my little girl, struggling with wanting her independence and needing my approval … a see-saw of emotions, so to speak. She speaks like she is much older than she is, and so sometimes I forget, she’s only three.

And then evenings are a two hour flurry of rush-rush-rush: play/dinner/bath/books/bed. By the time the kids are in bed (Ben around 7/715; Maya 8/815) I am drained. And then usually feeling guilty for how “bad” the night went, if it was a tough night. I think oftentimes she acts up because — well, because she’s three — but also it’s a lot of stimulation for her at school and then she comes home and we’re rushing around to unwind (ironic, right?!) … and that isn’t good, either.

To be honest, it’s been really, really hard balancing the needs of a baby and a pre-schooler because they are so different. Maya is very understanding but my patience has just been tested beyond my wildest dreams since Ben came along and we’ve been parents to two kids. It’s been tough. And though I try to find time alone with her — good, quality time, like mommy-and-Maya dates, they don’t happen as often as they need to.

One thing I have tried to do is never go to bed angry or with an unresolved issue. So if Maya is acting up at bed-time (as she often does) I put it behind me and we always say goodnight the same special way we always do and always hug and kiss before bed.

Still, I hate how I don’t always practice what I preach. I do get frustrated and raise my voice. And I’ve made her cry. No one wants to bring their own child to tears, but sometimes that has been the only way to get her to listen. And I know it’s not the right way.

I don’t like this part of motherhood — the profound desire to be listened to and respected … and the way I let it all unravel when I act like that. Like a child.

I want quality time … good, solid quality time with my kids. I don’t want to me a mom who gets a couple hours with her kids and spends them frustrated.

So much of life is our reactions to situations vs. the situations themselves. Which means I can choose how to react to her, to avoid a melt-down and let certain things go … and just fight for what’s really worth raising an issue over.

What I want for this Mother’s Day — and every day, really — is to just appreciate what I have and enjoy whatever quality time I get with my kids … whether it’s 10 minutes or 10 hours … to just be in the moment with them. I want to focus on the good and drown out the bad.

Because when this little girl looks at me with her slate-gray eyes and double-dimpled grin and wraps her little arms around me, I’m toast.

Me and my girl
Me and my girl

 

Mother-daughter relationships are complicated … to be sure. But for now, I want to focus on keeping ours as simple as can be. Simple, and full of love.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, and especially my own — who visits tomorrow!! 🙂 May you all get some quality time with your little (or big!) ones.

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