I have a friend who chooses a word to focus on each year. A few years ago, her word was “linger” as she was raising 3 little boys with a girl on way. When the boys needed her, and she was tired, she would linger just a bit longer. This word focused her mothering to be better in allowing her a few moments longer with her kids.
My boys are nearing the tween years, but they still want to be tucked into bed every night. Some nights it is hard to do, especially when they have given me a tough day. I know there have been too many nights when I tuck them in but I am not really present.
My youngest son often wants to snuggle, and I usually succumb to his big brown eyes and quivering lower lip. But there are times when the day has taken its toll and I refuse in an effort to get them to sleep sooner and to keep my sanity. The other night I slipped into bed beside him after a frustrating day. I waited a few seconds and was ready to give him a quick squeeze to leave, but then he started talking. He asked some deep questions about Jesus. His mind was pondering these huge ideas about faith. I teared up, realizing the only reason he asked these questions was because I gave him the space to do so. I know we wouldn’t have had the conversation if I hadn’t lingered.
How many other nights have I missed these sweet conversations? How many other times have I missed the opportunities to delve into his life because of my impatience? What would our relationship look like now had I just lingered more?
When you are in the trenches of motherhood, it is hard to see the limelight. It is hard to look beyond the current situation and see the future of your boys becoming men and your girls becoming women. All too often I find myself telling them to “stop getting big” as they have skipped an entire jean size. I have to catch my breath when I get a quick glimpse of the men that they will one day become: their mannerisms, their language, their wit. I know my time with them, in my household, is short. I know they won’t always ask to snuggle at night and it won’t be some big marked occasion when they cross over into manhood.
I only have six years left with my oldest son before he is an adult. Six years. There is so much to teach and show him before he flies my nest. It reminds me of the quote, “The days are long, but the years are short.” There are so many days when I am done mothering at about dinner time but have to push through the next few hours to get the little rascals into bed. Yet, somehow, when I look at them I realize that it was just yesterday that they came up to me with grubby toddler fingers and then wide missing tooth smiles.
This same friend of mine also is an avid reader. She has instilled this love of reading into her kids and blogs about what book she is reading to them at night. I decided to take her advice, yet again, and began reading my absolute favorite series, The Little House on the Prairie, to my younger son each night. We snuggle in and read one chapter, no more no less, and it has become my favorite part of the day. I get to share with him this book series that is so close to my heart, and he gets some coveted one-on-one time with mama. We both look forward to it, and it has helped me to linger just a little bit more in this oh so busy world of ours.
I know I will never regret choosing to linger just a little longer with my little ones.
Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois who writes about family issues. Contact her at kristina@mamabear moxie. com or visit her website at www.mamabearmoxie.com.