“Every day in a hundred small ways our children ask, ‘Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do I matter?’ Their behaviour often reflects our response. – L.R. Knost
I love this quote (and many others) from L.R. Knost because it always gives me a reality check. Today, and this last week, I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed by motherhood. My kids have felt extra demanding and needy and loud. But really, they’re just asking me if I see them. If I care about them.
It feels like my three-year old talks non-stop, which he does, but part of the reason behind that is because he wants to talk to me. He’s excited for me to listen to all the things running through his mind. Both my kids love to read, and will take advantage of any time that I will read to them. I love seeing their little eyes scan the pages and hear my son read along with me as he’s starting to memorize the books we read again and again. There have been many times my one-year old will come over to me, open my hand up, and place a book in it until I take time to sit down with her and read.
Sometimes those two things seem like inconveniences, though. All I can see is a sink full of dishes, a load of laundry that’s already been washed three times, and lunch that isn’t going to make itself. All my kids can see is me. They see a mom they just want to spend time with. They don’t care if we have to eat off paper plates or run around in just undies and diapers. (They LOVE those things!) My kids just want my attention and those are two ways they know how to get it.
There are also the days when it feels like nothing is going right. My son gets mad and instantly cries because I said no to playdough. My daughter runs over and hits my son or the dog. They whine because they both want snacks even though they just had snacks. Truthfully, they know all these things, these negative behaviors, will cause me to react. I’ll give them attention, even if it’s not good attention. They just want me to slow down and give them love and they’ll get it however they can.
This year I decided my word was going to be gentle. I decided that I would start putting my kids before everything else, like laundry and dishes. Those are two things that are never-ending, but time with my kiddos is not. I see this quote and am reminded: gentle. Our kids just want us. They don’t see the messes, they see us. They don’t know how to flat-out say, “Give me all your attention now!”, so they find their own ways to say that, good and bad. My goal this year is to embrace the good moments when I’m asked to read another book or hear another story. I’m also aiming to approach the bad moments with more gentleness and grace because I know, deep down, my babies just need their mom.
I challenge you to do the same. If you’re like me, this is hard. You work hard and want things to be kept a certain way. You fill your to-do lists so full that there’s really no way to complete all the tasks, yet you keep writing more things down. But in the end, what matters most? Our littles are only little for so long. Then before we know it, they won’t want our attention as much. Let’s vow to recognize those moments that might seem like interruptions or inconveniences at first, but instead shift our mindsets and remember that those kiddos are just asking us to tell them they matter. Don’t forget: We’re their whole world until we’re not anymore, and we aren’t the ones who decide when that will be.