“You’re missing it”

“You’re missing it” the words said.

It was as they were if spoken to me audibly yet I knew they were not communicated through speech. I paused what I was doing– cleaning up the mess in the kitchen from preparing another meal. I looked up to see my two young children laughing together. Henry was leaning out of his highchair and reaching towards Clara. He was giddy with love and excitement. Clara was standing in her exer-saucer and reaching towards Henry while laughing hysterically. Their hands were close to touching but they couldn’t quite make it and they found it absolutely hilarious. I burst into laughter, overjoyed to see them playing together and loving their simple life.

The next day I heard the words again. Clear as day – – “You’re missing it.” I was frantically cleaning my house in preparation for guests. It was an undertaking that had consumed most of my day and if I’m honest with myself I admit that I have not really played with my children. Eight-month-old Clara was entertaining herself on the floor in her charming and self-contented way. I paused what I was doing. A big part of me, the efficient, task-oriented part, wanted to continue my project and check off the things on my list. “She is so young,” I thought, “she seems happy playing on the floor, she is probably okay.” But the words “you’re missing it” came to my mind again, so I stopped and sat down on the floor to play with her. She was utterly delighted to receive my full attention and began to grin madly and jump and wiggle with excitement. “Wow,” I thought, “I must not do this often enough.” Between chasing my energetic toddler and running our home with a husband who’s in school, this baby has not received the lion’s share of the attention. After playing together for a few minutes, doing something she wanted to do, I felt much more connected to her and more satisfied with my job being her mom.

“You’re missing it.” I was entering my password to log onto Facebook. I thought I would check my messages to see if a friend had replied. After all, both kids were napping – – and this was my time, right? My daughter had just fallen asleep in my arms with her face hidden under a blanket, to shield her from the light in the room. Although she has been asleep for several minutes, I had not yet paused to look at her peaceful face. Putting down my phone and turning towards here, I kissed the soft squishy hand that had made its way out from under the blanket and gently touched the dimple on each of her knuckles. Then I lifted the blanket and gazed at her cherubic face. A flood of love and connectedness rushed into my heart and seemed to fill my whole being. I wrapped one hand around the crown of her head, slipped the other arm under her body and cradled my infant in a protective embrace. “I would do anything for this child,” I thought. Recalling the difficult pregnancy and labor that I went through to bring her to this world, I felt sure that I would do it all again. I felt that familiar desire, to fight off anything that would seek to harm her. “This girl,” I thought, “Is the treasure of my heart.”

Those words were repeated several times to me over the course of a few days. You may call the voice my conscience or intuition. Or perhaps you call it inspiration or a spiritual impression from God. Whatever you call that voice, it feels to me like an advocate and a friend. That soft and gentle prodding reminded me this week how vital it is that I stop and experience motherhood fully, that I live in the present.

The weeks go by so fast, and it seems that my kids are changing every time I look at them. Before I know it they will be gone from my home and pursuing their own life adventures. They will have learned their formative lessons and chosen who they will become. I will I longer serve as full-time teacher, best friend, and #1 fan. Other good people will begin to fill those roles. While I know that I will always be their mother, I see that the relationship will change—it must change. In that future day, I am sure there will be plenty of dishes in the sink to be washed. There will be many friends for me to correspond with and catch up on. There will be shopping to do, chores to complete, and hobbies to enjoy. But there will be no babies at my breast, no small children in my bed and no gaggle of young, hungry bodies at my table. I feel now a strong sense of urgency in mothering these children—an intense desire to make sure I am investing myself in them and focusing on these people more than the tasks surrounding them. When I consistently choose to mother this way I am happier and more fulfilled in my life. The necessary and mundane tasks I do as a mother and wife seem less oppressions, and more opportunities. Opportunities to sacrifice for another human being, to invest myself and my energies in the enterprise that yields more joy than anything I know of.

I am overcome with a renewed resolve to be present with my family when I am at home. I mean being engaged mentally, emotionally and physically with my husband and children during our hours together. I certainly have my time for me when I need it and that is important, of course. But my interactions with my children are the main purpose of my life right now, and I want those interactions to be intentional and engaged.

This week I have been reminded that childhood goes fast. And I know I don’t want to miss a thing.

What are ways that you make sure to connect with your kids during the day? Ideas that have worked for you to keep distractions in check?

7 thoughts on ““You’re missing it”

  1. Delicious, Allie; fattening my soul! I have felt the feelings you describe so lovingly; but I wasn’t wise enough to take time to articulate them. This made me lonesome for all of you. Thanks for posting.—— Gam.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What does Mary Oliver say? “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” And Mason Jennings: “Be here now, no other place to be.” So lovely, Al. Love you and those little ones.

    Liked by 1 person

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