Today, my daughter and I wrote a story.
So did my son and I.
Let’s start with what prompted this:
Last night, my daughter said something that hurt a bit. She said that she needs more attention and that I am always saying “one second” or “in a minute”.
I sat there on the floor of her room and hung my head. GUILTY AS CHARGED, I thought to myself. Caught red-handed with my cell phone in my hand scrolling my Facebook newsfeed as she was basically telling me that I am always distracted and don’t make enough time for her.
My husband and I took the time to delve deeper into her feelings based on the statement she made. We also took the time to explain to her that while we love her more than ANYTHING in this world, she is not the only person or thing in this world that is important.
Ouch. I even hate saying that out loud again here now.
But, she has siblings that matter, and we have work that matters, and if she wants to continue living the blessed life she is living, well, then she must understand that all of this takes time, effort, and money to curate and maintain a life such as hers.
She nodded in agreement and avowed that she was processing what we were saying, but as it turns out, I think I did more processing in those first few moments after her declaration and thanks to my anxious, over-analyzing personality, I have been processing it ever since.
Let me note this — when she first uttered this, she had just gotten in a little bit of non-serious trouble for not listening and misbehaving during book time. So, yes, I do understand that her remark came after that and likely it was an attempt to divert attention away from her misconduct and to point her finger at ours (or mostly, mine).
That being said, she was right. SHE IS RIGHT. Although I am home with my children every day, for a few hours a day, I am not truly present. My head is on my freelance work, my next article idea, what my book cover will look like, and wondering why my latest Facebook post did or didn’t seem to resonate with my audience.
What I should be focusing on is the work inside of the walls of my home, my next idea on how to better connect with my children, what books I should be reading to them, and wondering which parenting methods are or are not working with my most important audience — my three impressionable children.
But, as I said, they are not the only thing that matters. While they are undoubtedly the most important, they are not the only. My happiness matters, my passion matters, and my internal sense of sanity and balance matters, too.
So, what changed after my daughter told my husband and I that I do not give her enough attention. I made a change.
Later that day, I shared with my daughter an idea I had to make sure she and her siblings get enough one-on-one each day. I told her that for 30 minutes a day, each of them would receive Mommy’s phoneless and undivided attention doing something of their choosing while their other siblings are occupied with other activities.
On this day, my daughter and I decided to write a story together. Not only was this fun for the both of us, it is/was also an age-appropriate way to build up her writing and story-telling skills. We would each take turns drafting a sentence which resulted in a story that both she and I are very proud of titled “Bob, Sally, and the Butterfly”.
Truth be told, I know my lack of full attention has been an issue in my house, but I just haven’t figured out the best way to handle #allthethings. Now I have a plan in place, and I am implementing it. The kids are happy, and so am I.
While most of our half an hour one-on-one’s will not involve making a story together and will more than likely involve pool time, card games, coloring, tea parties, and Darth Vader light-saber battles, I am now fully aware that the most important story I write with my children is the one we are living out every day, the one they will forever be able to recall in their memories, and the one that is shaping them into the adult they will one day be.