Today I played with my son. I know what you’re thinking, “Ummm, ok? Do you want some kind of award?” But I mean I truly PLAYED with him, I didn’t just interact.
I’m guilty so many more times than not of doing everything else but getting down on the floor and playing with my kids in the manner in which they truly want to play, as well as deserve. I’m that mom who most of the time responds with short sentences, sometimes just a simple”yea?” while I’m busy juggling a million hats at the same time – prepping dinner, folding laundry, organizing the pantry, reading a news article, what have you – so as to engage as little as possible without completely ignoring my kids. In addition, too many times I’ve sat on my phone or occupied myself throughout perfect opportunities in which I could be engaging with the twins but I was just so tired (or this is how I’ve justified it). It makes me sad to think about when I recall just how much I do this. I didn’t realize until now that this was how I had been handling my mommy duties.
But today, without even thinking, I not only played with my son but I initiated the play. Both of the girls – my three-year-old and my seven week old – were sleeping, yet my son refused to nap. I finally allowed him to come down from his room and play quietly while we waited for his sisters to wake up. I started my time just sitting on the couch and was going to watch him play in my normal manner, but I decided to grab one of his monster trucks and roll it his way.
He smiled SO big.
We then went back and forth, launching a red monster truck back and forth across a bench we have in our living room. He would launch it my way and I would catch it and quickly twist it back around to roll it back his way, all the while he was giggling so hard that a few times he had to catch his breath before he could return the four-wheeled toy in my direction. In the times I missed the truck and it tumbled to the ground he would exclaim, “you missed it!” We did this for longer than I’ve ever had the chance to one-on-one with him and I noticed so many things about him in those moments that quickly became emotional and endearing.
His smile has changed. As we played and each time he caught the truck or even if it fell, he would laugh, and laugh HARD. His smile was big. And it was different than what I remembered. Don’t get me wrong, I watch my kids and interact with them all the time! But in this moment, the way his mouth opened and his lips stretched showing his full set of teeth and his eyes lit up, it hit me that he is growing and changing in a much faster manner than I had realized.
Another thing I noticed is that his coordination is incredible. The way he was catching the truck with his whole hand, just two fingers gripping a wheel as it hung halfway off the bench or how quickly he reacted with his legs and hips to catch it at some points before it could make it to the ground absolutely amazed me. I couldn’t get over just how much he’s developing physically and how it seems like overnight the always clumsy, couldn’t keep an eye on anything itty bitty baby boy of mine was disappearing. Which brings me to the next thing I realized today…
He’s no longer a little boy, he’s legitimately a KID now. The hubs took him to get his first legit barbershop haircut last week and this was when the beginning of the realization that he’s growing up hit me. He went from a shaggy, messy, toddler hairstyle that was never given much thought before leaving the house to a trendy, short and product-requiring style. I cried. Not because I was sad per say, but because it all seemed to happen so fast and in a way, I was proud of how incredibly handsome he’s becoming. He is still so proud of his barbershop haircut.
Then this tug at my heart was tightened when I picked the twins up from school earlier this week and my once baby boy was “hanging out” on a bench on the playground with three other kids in what seemed to be a full blown conversation. And today I noticed more changes; I’m sure I’ll notice more tomorrow. It really feels like overnight, every night, my baby boy is growing up.
I don’t necessarily want time to slow down, because I really actually do love seeing my babies grow and develop, and it’s so exciting to see the fruits of our labor (lots of hard labor with these strong-willed kids!). But I definitely don’t want time to speed up, which is what the last week has made me feel like.
The last week has made me realize that I better wake up and get down and play with my kids more or before long the chance to see these little changes will be gone. If I don’t take advantage of the time I have now, one day my kids will no longer want me to even laugh with them, let alone play with them or give me hugs and kisses before bed, help me put away the groceries or even go grocery shopping at all. Before long, they’ll be enthralled in their own lives and new relationships where mommy is no longer their main squeeze and most important person. One day, sooner than I realize, these sweet moments I’m able to seize every single day will be fewer and farther between. I can only hope and pray that they will always want at least a little piece of me and not pull away completely one day.
It’s time to buck up and take in all these moments and make all the memories I can. It’s time to get creative and away from my own to-do list to spend better quality time with my littles so I can not only have the memories for myself but so that they can have the memories as well. Because as fast as we think it’s going, I can’t imagine how one day we’ll wake up and realize these kids are grown and they could possibly have few fond memories of how Mommy spent her time.
It’s time to let some things go. It’s time to readjust and focus. It’s time to not just love my kids, but love ON my kids more so than ever. Because, well, it’s just time.
What are some of the ways you try to spend quality time with your kids? What memories are you purposefully trying to make, and what memories have come organically?