13 July 2009

Paying Attention

Sometimes in the crush of the everyday, I forget to appreciate my children. Katrina, especially, because weekdays begin with get up, get dressed, did you remember to go to the bathroom? are you dressed yet?, just a minute let me get the baby, hold on, packing your lunch, aren't you dressed YET? come on, it's been twenty minutes, here, choose your cereal, you don't want cereal, you want toaster waffles. whatever, just eat, hurry up we have to leave in thirty minutes, come on, no, you can't play your DS, you have to get ready for school, come on, brush your teeth, let's get your hair done, will you HURRY already we must leave in ten minutes, SHOES! where are your SHOES! No, you don't have time to go through every stuffed animal you have to find the one you want to take on the bus, get in the car Get In the Car, GET IN THE CAR!

And then we get to the bus stop and I give her a hug and kiss and she gets on the bus and I collapse in relief at having pulled it off again.

After school is a bit better, sometimes. Often, though, she's in tears before she hits the house because we don't have the right kind of snack or the neighbor girl's not home, or any one of a million "reasons" to have a meltdown. Transitions are hard for her, and weekdays are nothing but transitions. And late afternoon is still a fussy time for the baby, who can play pretty independently at most times of the day, but needs mom's complete attention at the exact same time dinner preparations are underway. And I have the schedule tick, tick, ticking in the back of my head all day...almost time to start dinner, so we can get baths on time, so we can get to bed on time...along with all the other and sundry details that make up a family's life, including our move starting this Wednesday when the packers come and "ending" in our new house on Friday.

So, I fall into the trap of not really looking at her, not really paying attention to the moment, because the next thing is pressing in so urgently. I'm thinking about her a lot, in that thrumming, mom-anxiety way: she's been watching too much TV, time to get her outside, what do I have for a healthy snack? does she have homework? how can I help her with homework with the baby crying and dinner cooking, and hubby has a conference call at 6 so we need to hurry things along...

On Thursday, the school had a musical production. The whole school participated. A Victorian Music Hall. And in a way, it had become just one more thing on my list for these frantic few weeks of the end of school, moving, and then traveling to the States for a long visit. Find Katrina a costume that looks vaguely Victorian--check. Get her fed early so she could get to the school by 5:15 pm--check. Pack snacks and quiet toys for the baby and hope that we could keep her quiet for the two-hour spectacular. Camera! Don't forget the camera! Good heavens, I must change out of jeans and a milk-stained T-shirt--check.

The baby behaved beautifully for the whole two hours. It helped that we stuck snacks in her mouth every time she opened it. And that the floor was carpeted so she could sit on it and look at/chew on a board book.

When Katrina's class went on stage to do their thing, I looked at her probably for the first time that day without that little agenda ticking through my head. And remembered how beautiful she is. And that I need to step back a bit more and just appreciate. There was a time when I thought I would never have children. And now look.

Just look.

I need to pay better attention to how blessed I am. How blessed this whole family is. How fast my "big girl" is growing. I was teasing her in the car the other day...that she was not allowed to get any older or grow any taller. And she said, "But then I won't be able to grow up and have babies!" My girl has problems with transitions, and the transition from only child to big sister was incredibly hard for her, I think. Now, though, a year on, and she is planning to have her own babies. "I wish Annika were my baby," she has said.

But that day in the car, she sounded so adult. "You want to grow up and have a baby? Would you want a girl baby or a boy baby?" "Oh, it doesn't matter. Either one is fine," she said. And I wanted to say again, Don't grow up so fast. But I didn't. Instead, I resolved to pay better attention.