By: Jessica Aldred
Today I walked barefoot through the mud. I dropped small rocks in big puddles. I watched a wide-eyed little boy study a caterpillar and startle at the sight of a frog jumping. I watched a toddler experience nature, get filthy and squeal with delight. Despite an entirely too busy life, I took the time to hold his hand and stomp in puddles, to study things for the first time and to appreciate his inquisitive nature. Perhaps I did all these things with my first son, but I certainly did not with my second. I had two kids under 2 when he was born and we were in damage control mode (to put it mildly.)
While I do harbor some inner guilt over not having the time to truly enjoy my middle son as I have with my 1st and 3rd, I do my best to take the time now. In the middle of a busy day, I try to give them the 1:1 attention they need and take time to head outside and embrace the little things. We wander to our central mailbox, we make caterpillar houses and all those other things that a mom of only boys learns to love. These are things I intended to do with all my children but time, work, stress –you name it- always seem to get in the way.
I’m far from the perfect parent, but I have come to realize that I can only do the best I can with the situations I’m given. If that means 20 minutes wandering around the yard exploring, I’ll take it. If that means lying in bed talking about our summer plans, I’ll certainly take that too. I signed up to be a mom to these three mini-me’s and, to them, I’m one of the most important people in their world. If I don’t take the time to talk about the shape of their bruises or the bug on the ceiling, they won’t think I’ve got the time or patience to stop and listen to the increasingly important things that they’ll need to talk to about in the future.
I’m a planner and while sometimes that gets the best of me, when it comes to my kids and planting the seeds for their teenage years, I’m well aware of what I’m doing. I’m creating a foundation of trust, patience and an open door that they can feel free run through whenever they feel the need. In theory, I’m adding upon their natural instinct to trust your mother and value her input so that, as we approach more difficult developmental times, they innately come to me with whatever is on their minds.
It starts with long stints chatting during bath time and dancing to silly songs in the kitchen. And hopefully, it ends with respectable young men who value their mother as a confidant and friend. I’m sure I’m not the only one trying to lay this ground work while they’re so young. What tips or tricks do you have for building strong relationships with your little ones?