I’m laying here snuggling with my son as he melts into me. His breathing is heavier now that he’s asleep. And I’m noticing. Each and every breath, I’m noticing.
This morning we have already brushed our teeth.
Made eggs and coffee. Chose a smoothie instead.
Played trucks and read stories in our blanket fort. (And by blanket fort I really mean a blanket hanging over the edge of our king size bed and then slewn over our tall laundry hamper. But it makes a slight tent and blocks out the world and it’s magical, okay?)
My son and I had been having a hard time together lately (read about that here) and the turning point was when I had to think about how to discipline him in a way that meant something to him.
And so I took away the Ipad. And the kindle. And any and all cell phone games.
I didn’t yet realize this was the key to reconnecting us altogether.
I had been very against iPads for toddlers when I saw what type of nightmare they could turn kids into when I saw it happen with my younger siblings. I was adamant about not introducing them until he was 2.
After the move to New Jersey I got lenient with it. It was a learning tool. A way to connect with the family and it was exciting for everyone. It also seemed to make things easier on all of us.
But what happened before I knew it, I started laxing up way too much. In all areas. Giving him these gadgets gave me an opportunity to get sucked into my own. He got addicted. And frankly, so did I.
I didn’t want to be a helicopter parent and hover over my son while he played with his grandparents, (I’m a control freak, I admit this) and so I’d find something else to do (shower, work on my blog, talk to my sisters, read the Bible, journal, put away the endless piles of laundry, rearrange things…)
I’d miss my son but I didn’t know how to navigate this and so —I just didn’t (I’ve written about this once here) and it’s something that I have struggled with.
So I started distracting myself. With things. Things that in retrospect don’t measure up at all to my son.
I got a glimpse of this when my in-laws went away for a night. It was just my son and I in the house, since my husband was working, and we reconnected so much. I got a glimpse of our past.
It happened again the other night, as I watched my son practice Tai Chi with his Grandma. They put on calming music and he started taking deep breaths, reaching to the sky, and rolling around effortlessly on the ground.
I teared up watching this because I missed the times we used to do yoga together in our living room, in front of our TV. For 30-45 minutes he would last, doing different poses with me, breathing deeply, watching me intently, and then us snuggling on the floor by the end in a warm, fuzzy ball. Candles lit, sheer shades drawn, sunshine barely peeking through.
I started reflecting on so much of our old routine that somehow got lost in the transition.
We would read book after book after book, snuggling in the glider, me in my PJs until late afternoon, but only because we had completed a handful of activities together and I paid no mind to my appearance.
I never answered the phone, not because I was ignoring people (usually,) but because I didn’t have my phone on me at all. Because I was wrapped up in our own little world. And if I did ignore it, it was because I was more focused on the moment in front of me.
I didn’t realize then how special that was. I didn’t realize I had let that go.
That’s the way life goes, though isn’t it? We don’t realize things are slipping between our fingers until it feels as though it’s too late. And I’m thankful for that rough patch my son and I went through because through tears and prayer and sheer desperation I was able to come to this realization.
That I want my motherhood back.
So now when we are together, we are no longer getting lost in a techy game—we are using our imaginations together and soaking up our laughter. When I am snuggling with him for nap time, I am not scrolling through endless squares of social media anymore. I am noticing the sparkling brown flecks that shine within his golden green eyes. And I am memorizing the curves of his face…because they are changing every day. My baby is not so much a baby anymore, and I want to savor this moment.
When I am spending time with him, I am all there.
He deserves that. He always has…And I do, too.
This time is short. And I don’t want to look back and remember that I didn’t know how to handle myself, that I just allowed him to get lost in his games, that I was too sucked into my phone, or never found a true balance with mommy time and grandparent time.
The moments with them are special and cherished, absolutely, and I will always encourage those times. But I am a part-time substitute teacher (so very new) and a full-time Mommy—that is my role. I was messing it up, bad. I wasn’t enjoying this chapter of my life anymore. I felt misplaced. Off—Because I was. And I started to feel such conviction about this.
This is my gift and my moment as a woman and a mother. And I’m treating it that way again, in the way that it was intended, in the way that it deserves. Because I miss that. Because it matters.
I won’t be posting on Instagram often. I will only be working on my blog when he naps, or in early mornings or late nights when he is sleeping—because this is a hobby that lights me up and I enjoy. Posts may be given in bursts and that’s okay, too. But I no longer will be on my phone when he is awake. And if he stops napping, well then my posts will be even more sporadic. When I am working, my in-laws will have beautiful times with my son that matter, that are special, that are exclusive for them. And when we spend time together as an entire family, that will mean even more, too.
This will be our new routine now. The new normal. Back to basics.
And suddenly, life feels right again.
Forever learning, forever finding my balance. Far from perfect.