During February, the month of love, I am focusing on showing my love to my daughter. For inspiration, I have asked mamas to submit essays on how they show their children love. This is one is written by Alicia Noack, a stay at home mom in Austin, Tx. The inspiration for her essay comes from her own childhood. She blogs over at the Blackbelt and the Baby.
When I was a kid, my family was busy all the time. About twice a week, dinner was something hastily microwaved before my dad got home from work, so one of us kids could get to practice on time. When things got too much or when one of us kids threw a fit, my mom’s solution was to promise us “special time.” It was an hour or two when we would get completely uninterrupted time with her – sometimes just a ride in the car, sometimes a craft project that was our very own, and later lunch or coffee or a shopping trip. We still do it. My sister asks for it every time my parents visit.
I only have one kid, so technically, all our time is special time. I guess, if I stretched, I could say he gets competition from email or when I’m trying to make dinner, but it’s not the same. If he needs mom, I’m almost always available to drop what I’m doing to gather him up in my arms.
Yesterday afternoon, Finn began to get bored and cranky, refusing to play with his toys on the mat. He didn’t want to almost-crawl to the dog, or sit in his jumper seat or bang his favorite spoon against the exersaucer. We were on our third tour of the house – “Look, Finn, this is the thermostat. Wait, don’t pull on it”—and I was running out of ideas. The weather has been crummy, and that makes it hard to think of things to do with him. He’s only 7 months old, so there’s not a lot we can do anyway. Maybe I should count my blessings that he believes riding in a grocery cart to be the height of entertainment, but when the weather is lousy, it’s hard to get out of the house, hard to think of new things to do.
That’s when I remembered one of our oldest games: roll around on the bed. We used to do this when he was really tiny, when I was too tired to keep carrying him around. We would lie down on my bed and stare at each other and make faces and I would try to get him to laugh. He was notoriously humorless as an infant; I think we got him to laugh once every few weeks, and to be honest, he might have just been coughing.
We lay down on the bed and he rolled around, up onto his arms, up onto his knees, doing the little rocking thing that he’s getting so good at. Then he grabbed parts of my face. He smiled and babbled; I smiled and babbled back. Then he got a very serious, studious look on his face, carefully gathered my cheeks into his little hands, and approached my chin with his gaping mouth. It’s his slobbery baby kiss. There was a generous dose of snot mixed into this one.
I spend a lot of time trying to keep this kid from getting away from me, and he can’t even crawl yet. When I hold him, he tries to twist out of my arms. When we sit down on the couch together, he dives for the remote. On the floor, he giggles at me while he scooches backward underneath the bookcase. But here, in the quiet bedroom on a boring day, he is content to roll around on me and touch my face and drool on my chin.
What do I do to show my kid I love him? I sing him songs when he has a hard time falling asleep. I memorized Peter Rabbit so I could tell him at least one story while I looked into his eyes. I tickle him, encourage him, feed him his favorite foods, nurse him to sleep, and cuddle him long after he has drifted off. And on really long, boring, never-ending afternoons, I give him some special time. Or maybe he gives me special time.