What stood out for me most,in this magnificent video was the images of Mae Toi playing with her children, being with her children. It literally didn’t matter what she was doing, even swatting one of the kids hands away. She was with them. They saw her love.
When I got married, I was really young. And I was sure that I would do everything right, be the perfect parent.
One thing I was really into was playing next to my children. I would stand next to the slide and crouch by the sandbox and push them on swings. I would see other mothers sitting on benches and scoff to myself. “Why don’t you get up? Don’t you know how much it means to a child?”
I was only a year or two out of my own childhood and I vividly recalled the difference in pleasure when my mother would stand by me as I crossed the monkey bars and when she wasn’t able to.
Wow, was I judgmental! The wonderful woman got out of her house and took her kids to the park. Good for her! And now she was resting her feet! As a matter of fact it probably would be only a minute or two before one of her kids called “Mooooomy!”
But the fact is, I was on to something. Proximity.
As I speak, my daughter is playing the piano. How many times have I heard her play? Been proud for her music? Does she know how much I love it? She would know if she saw my face as I sat near her and watched her fingers fly. My other daughter plays the harp. How many times have I loved the gentle notes floating up the staircase? I tell her how much I enjoy it but it’s not the same as sitting right by her listening.
Playing with your children? Wow! That’s the platinum stuff. Good for an entire article.That’s the memories and the super mega vitamin for our kids. But really, just being with them is so much.
Hanging out at the same table when they’re doing their homework. Being outside with them as they sled down the hill rather than looking through the window. Going to their room with them instead of sending them to bed. I’m only me, but I think that this is the secret wish of every child.
I write this as someone who struggles with this. I work on this. And as my kids get older I have to work that much harder to remind myself that it matters to them. I have to work not to confuse their healthy independence with emotional independence. We are never independent from our mothers love. We ache for it, thrive with it, sometimes even define by it.
Like everything else it’s not black and white. It’s not all or nothing. We are busy doing good things and can’t be in ten places at once. But whenever we can, we can remind ourselves of this word; proximity. Being physically near our children. It’s worth it’s weight in gold.
One of the most uncelebrated women I know has the most amazing children. She’s not a community leader or a person of big opinions. she’s not a career woman or a fancy lady. She’s a mother. I watch her carefully. Her devotion to her children is a simple fact reflected in her steady, actual , presence. And it shows in her children.
I want that. I want my children to feel my love. Not only to know it, but to bathe in it, to be warmed by it, to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Love, in a way, is so undemanding. It’s not like a workout at the gym that you need 50 crunches in a row to be successful. In love, every crunch you do counts.
Every minute, every extra caress, every prayer, every smile, every compliment, every listening ear adds up. Anytime we can extract ourselves from our personal rat race and be near our children. We win and they win. And I bet you’ll find yourself loving it too!