It was just a couple of days ago that I heard O’s little feet pitter patter at the top of the stairs. “Mom?” he cried out.
I knew immediately what he wanted. He wanted to come and cuddle in bed with us because it was raining. Just raining. No thunder. No lightening. Just some heavy showers.
It was a late Sunday night. We decided to go grocery shopping at 7 P.M. that night, and we ended up spending two hours in the store. We got home around 9:30 p.m. Ollie had a quick dinner and was in bed by 10 p.m. that night. It was late. We all had to get up at 6 a.m. the next day. We were ready for bed.
As soon as I heard those little feet pitter patter, I knew that O wouldn’t be going to bed quickly. I felt an ounce of annoyance, like the “mom kind” where you’re just like “PLEASE MAKE THIS EASY AND GO TO BED ON YOUR OWN” kind of annoyance. Then I felt emotional. I felt really emotional. He wanted us. He needed us to help him feel safe. My heart told me that I needed to let him know that his fears were heard, and that we were there for him.
Of course I could have said, “You’re fine, go to bed.” or I could have said, “It’s not raining too badly, just go to sleep.” I could have chosen to make that parental choice. It was 10 p.m., people. It was time for bed.
Instead, I told him to come downstairs, that everything was going to be fine. I told him to come and cuddle between us and when he fell asleep we would take him upstairs with Kylie, his most fierce canine protector.
Sometimes O asks me to sing him our song after we have put him in bed. It’s the Veggie Tales song, God is Bigger Than the Boogieman. Sometimes, when he asks me to sing him this song, I feel those same emotions of annoyance after he is put to bed, then the door cracks open.. “Mom, can you sing me that song?” But, one thing always stops me from letting what I want or what I should expect out of O get in the way. That one thing is that he’s going to grow up. One day he won’t be afraid of rain. He won’t need the Boogie Man sung away. In fact, one day he is going to be afraid of bigger things such as fitting in, making the right decisions, deciding on his future, and I want him to recognize that no matter the situation whether that be needing cuddles from the rain or needing life advice on what to do next, I am here. I am here with open and loving arms to help him because that is what I am called to do as a mother.
Society says children shouldn’t sleep with their parents. Society says that protecting children from the world causes them to be “snowflakes”. Society, society, society.
Societal norms are just a social construct that we have been raised to believe in and sometimes you have to look them in the face and follow what you’re heart is telling you to do. My heart tells me that O is little. My heart knows he will grow up. My heart tells me that being there, no matter the situation, and being present both physically and mentally is what my son needs from me as a mother.
Physically, we need to be with our children, yes. It’s easy to say, “Come downstairs and we can cuddle.” It’s easy to ask your child, “How was your day?”. It’s easy to physically kiss them goodnight or goodbye.
What is challenging is being there mentally. Mentally, every single day, I have to check myself. There are times I need to JUST focus on O and not focus on the fifty million other things that I am juggling. Mentally being there is important, but it is hard. It’s hard to stop our brains in our fast paced culture. It’s hard to mentally put on the brakes on when you’re going a million miles a second between work, school, dance, soccer, family events and whatever else life throws your way.
The good news it that it’s a choice to be there mentally. The good news is that you can choose to slow down. The good news is you don’t have to live your life a million miles a second. The good news is is that you can be there both physically and mentally. You can choose to stop listening to what society expects out of you and do what you feel in your heart is right as a parent.
I ask O every day, “How was your day? What was your favorite part?” I get deep into conversation with O. I could easily check out- ask a simple question and move on. I’m tired at the end of the day, we all are. However, I choose to clean my headspace, and be present, mentally. I want him to know I really care about what he is saying. That I care about his day. That I’m there both physically and mentally.
Honestly, being there mentally is engraved in my own construct of the motherhood definition. It’s not always easy. Yes, somedays I am there more mentally than others, but I choose to try everyday to let my son know mamma is here. Mamma is listening. I am present not only physically, but mentally.
Mammas, don’t check out. Don’t allow the long days to cause you to be there only in physical form. Love those babies each season of life. Don’t allow society to tear you down. Don’t allow it’s expectations of what a perfect mother look like to stop you from making decisions your heart wants. Put down your phone. Stop emailing. Stop texting. Stop Facebooking when you have a chance to mentally be present with your child. I promise you won’t miss whatever is happening in the world, because your world, your family, is right in front of you.
It’s ok that your babies aren’t always on schedule. It’s ok that your babies cuddle you. It’s ok to put down your phone and be present. It’s ok. It’s going to be ok. Remember that. It will be ok.