Catching Up: Slowing Down

I had a bit of a silent May. Not because I didn’t have things to say…more because I had SO many things to say that they all piled up on top of each other and it became impossible to say ANYTHING! And now I feel like we’re way behind on our correspondence, and like I can’t commit to Business As Usual without a grand and glorious Catching Up session. Consider this Episode One, I guess!

May may have started with a spectacular Mother’s Day celebration, but it went downhill abruptly: The next week I found out that a dear friend’s mother (also a dear friend) had passed away after an insanely lengthy battle with cancer. At the funeral, her eldest daughter spoke, and she said something that stuck with me. She said “No matter how angry we got at each other, we never doubted for one second that she loved us.”

And I wondered if my son could say the same.

I didn’t write about it, but Xander and I went through a rough patch this spring. I was stressed about work, all too often bringing it home with me, and all I wanted to do when I got home was zone out. It was so easy to plug him into a video (which he loves) and do my own thing. The more I did it, the easier it was…and the more I did it, the more separated I felt and the harder it was to connect with him, and the more we pushed each other’s buttons, until the whole of April stands out in my memory as one long, resentful, conflict-filled UGH.

Not fun.

Then my friend lost her mother…and I realized that I was Doing It Wrong. And the rest of May was about Making It Right Again.

I implemented little changes:

I started cooking my breakfast the night before, taking it to work with me, and then spending the newly-freed-up morning time drawing with Xander. This has been a rousing success – not only am I engaging with him while doing something he loves, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the 15 minutes before work begins where I sit in the lunch room with my omelet and my steeping tea and my book.

I discovered and joined the Hands-Free Revolution: I committed to staying off my phone as much as possible while Xander’s awake. I cut way back on the computer as well. I admit to slipping up sometimes, but on the whole it’s much better.

And here’s the big one, and what those first two are really all about:

I committed to staying fully present with my son during the short time we have together every weekday. That means really listening to him, engaging him in conversation, asking him to help me cook or clean, actually focusing on whatever game he asks to play. If we do watch TV or a movie, it means actually paying attention to what’s on the screen and enjoying spending time with him, not dragging out the laptop and computing while sharing sofa space. When I read to him at night, I point out each word instead of racing through with my mind on something else.

The past month has been about parenting wholeheartedly, fully inhabiting the space I occupy in the Universe. It’s also about shifting my priorities and figuring out how to still do the things I want to do…like write this blog post. That part is a major work in progress.

When I die, I want Xander to have memories of interacting with me, of feeling loved and valued 100%. And I want him to know without a shadow of a doubt how much I love him, because saying it isn’t enough – I need to show him too.


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