Do you know what I love about this age the most? The Joy.
That adulterated, uncontainable joy that Lexi experiences. I’ve never seen anyone’s eyes sparkle so much, anyone smile so passionately and so authentically.
Sometimes my head is buried in the phone answering 456 emails for the day or replying to a text that I have to reply to urgently. Or just in thought. And then I miss those moments of joy. I hate that.
I have to actively work on being in the moment, seeing the joy, experiencing it. My life is so incredibly busy, I have to make a conscious effort to do that. But when I do it, it is the best thing in the world. It is amazing to go out on our own, just me and her, and pay my full attention when she talks, tell her about maps and streets and blocks and why blocks are called blocks. And how they are just like Lego blocks. And listen to her incredible excitement about the fact that street blocks are like Lego blocks.
What other age is going to give me that curiosity, that excitement? I don’t want to miss it. Yet I do often. I’m sure we all do. Because life is hard, parenting is hard, and we get tired.
But we all have to remember, I have to remember, that the most important thing is this time, right now, the time I’m spending with my daughter. So I will go on trips with her, just her, so that I can really spend my time seeing her, watching her. Without anyone else around to take my attention. And I know that she craves that and she wants that and she enjoys that. More than anything else. Just mommy and me time.
This was the main thought behind this summer’s month of traveling. And it was absolutely unreal. This age is so much fun, her curiosity is through the roof. I love being stopped by Lexi in the airport in front of a HEART symbol and being asked what that means. “It’s a defibrilator, Lexi! When someone is having a cardiac arrest, these paddles send an electric shock to the heart to restart it”. “So it’s for someone having a heart attack?” (not sure sure how she knew that a cardiac arrest is somewhat related to a heart attack, but it was amazing to hear her talk about it.)
We spend airplane flights reading the safety booklet and discussing emergency proceedings, she asks me a million questions, looks at every little thing, studies it. It is absolutely unreal to watch her curiosity and personality and interests blossom as she grows.
It’s a learning experience for all of us. And with the hindsight, even if I didn’t have such awesome opportunities to travel, I would hope I would know to take road trips with her to nearby cities and towns. Get out and explore. Because of all this travel, she has become absolutely amazing to travel with. I feel like I am traveling with an adult. A short, curious, obedient adult.
So this month of travel has allowed me to focus on Lexi. While we often have other people join us on these trips (friends and loved ones), I am still focusing on exploring with her and doing child friendly activities.
In Iowa, for example, we visited a Science museum and loved playing together with Legos, bubbles, building rockets. We went rock climbing and she didn’t want to rest or leave, while we were dead on the mats shaking our arms because they were aching. In Cape Cod, we got to camp in a tent for the first time and she swam naked in the lake.
In NYC, we got to explore the city, ride the subway and navigate using the maps (I made sure she did the navigation). All of this has been so enriching and so connecting. I have learned to be more patient, Lexi learned to be more independent. It resulted in growth for both of us.
This week we are flying to Portland and then the week after going on a Disney cruise (which I will blog about). All of this makes me very happy because I am acting upon my own promise to myself to PAY ATTENTION, to be there, to show my presence. I admit that it is only possible to be that engaged due to periods of time where I get a break. That’s where separated co-parenting works so well. We both get a recharge time, time to ourselves that families with mothers as primary caregiver don’t get. It’s so easy to get burned out.
So I guess that is my main concern when it comes to being a good mother. I want to take the time to cherish these moments.
I want to learn to focus on what is important, learn to focus and disconnect. Because texts will wait, emails will wait, other adults will wait. She will not.
Stop paying so much attention to how others around you are doing” is easy advice to give, but hard to follow, because the evidence of how others are doing is pervasive, because most of us seem to care a great deal about status, and finally, because access to some of the most important things in life (for example, the best colleges, the best jobs, the best houses in the best neighborhoods) is granted only to those who do better than their peers.