“Hurry up! Brush your teeth! We’re going to be late!”
“How many times have I told you to put your shoes on already?!”
“Don’t make me come up there!”
It’s the daily loop that plays on repeat in my house. There are a few moments of Zen scattered throughout the day, mostly when my children are sleeping, but for the most part I walk around shouting commands, enforcing timeouts, and wondering if anything I’m doing really counts.
I read something once that said for every negative comment you give your child you should give them four specific positive comments to go along with it.
I’ll be honest; sometimes I’m just in way too much of a hurry trying to manage a two year old and four year old to bother with the positive comments. In fact, if I’m really honest, I’m often in too much of a hurry and too stressed to even stop and notice the goodness in my children.
And yet there is so much goodness in them. When I take the time to slow down and really take notice of it, it changes my perspective and reminds me why I love being a mom. But noticing goodness requires being intentional. It means that I have to be willing to slow down, ease up on my expectations, and embrace my children just the way they are.
I’ve started trying to do this purposefully– to shift from seeing everything that is wrong, to noticing what is right. Along the way, I’ve realized that when I slow down, and try to look for the good, it isn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be.
Here are four good things in my kids that I would have missed if I hadn’t slowed down to take notice.
My kids are really funny.
Sometimes they are downright hysterical. Just the other day, for example, I took both of my children shopping for new clothes. We were in the department store, and my two-year-old son managed to sneak away from me as I was looking through piles of shirts for my daughter. I heard a store employee say, “Who do you belong to?” and right away knew it was my son. I went out into the aisle and found him sprawled out on his stomach, pretending to take a nap on the floor of the store. He had a small crowd of shoppers around him laughing at his antics, and he was enjoying every moment. I said, “Come on Josh, time to get up!” But my son is two, and very “independent.” So, instead of getting up, he looked at me, looked around at his audience, and proceeded to lick the floor before dissolving into giggles. Yes, he literally licked a dirty department store floor in front of a crowd of people. Gross! The old me, the one who was always in a hurry and wanted her children to act perfectly, would have been mortified. But as I watched the crowd break into unabashed laughter while telling me “You have your hands full,” all I could do was laugh. My son is a ham. He loves to make people laugh and he can cheer me up like no one else when I am having a rough day. His humor, while sometimes a challenge, is agood thing, and my day is better when I embrace it.
My kids are kind.
They have more kindness deep down in their souls than I ever could have imagined. There are plenty of days where they fight over toys and yell at one another, but when it really counts, their kindness overwhelms me. A few weeks ago my son fell down from the top of the playground at our local park. He had a deep cut above his eye that would not stop bleeding, and I knew I had to get him to the emergency room. We had just moved to the area, and I was unsure of where to go, and scared for my son. My four-year-old daughter picked up on my distress right away; but instead of getting upset, she took the opportunity to show me unbelievable kindness and maturity. She picked up my purse and said, “Let’s go mom! We’ll find the hospital together.” She ran beside me as we rushed to the car, and spent the car ride giving her brother soft assurances, “It’s ok. Mommy and I are taking care of you. Don’t worry brother, I love you.” What could easily have turned into a tantrum because of all the stress instead turned into a display of the kindness that is woven into the fabric of my daughter’s soul. And when I took notice of that, my heart overflowed with love for her.
My kids love me like no one else.
I stay home with my kids full-time, and I am guilty too many days of rushing them through dinner, bath time, and bed time, just so I can have a few moments to myself before I lay my head down for the night. If I’m not careful, I get into such a hurry that requests for “just one more mommy cuddle” or “please, one more story,” irritate me. But when I am able to slow down and stop rushing through bedtime, I am able to receive the full measure of the love that my kids have for me. Just the other night, I was lying in my daughter’s bed, giving her just one more snuggle, and she whispered in my ear, “I love you. You are the best mommy.” I took that moment to breathe in the smell of her freshly shampooed hair, and squeeze her tightly to me. Too soon she will be grown up, no longer begging for my snuggles, and so I want to soak it up and enjoy it while it lasts. This love she has for me right now is very special, and I don’t want to miss it by hurrying through life too much.
My kids know how to appreciate the small stuff.
Unlike me, who often rushes through my day from one task to the next, my kids get excited over the smallest detail. As I’m trying to get the kids in the car to go to preschool my daughter will stop along the sidewalk and say, “Mommy! Look at that beautiful yellow flower! I have to go smell it!” and rush off to admire the flowers. Typically, this would drive me crazy and I’d worry about being late. But when I’m purposing to notice the goodness in my children, I am able to realize the goodness in that moment—the goodness of taking the time to notice beauty around us and to want to fully experience it. One of the best things about having kids is seeing the world freshly through their eyes. A ladybug, an apple tree, a song on the radio, it’s all new to them. And when I slow down and give them time to enjoy it, I see the world in a new way too.
Goodness is all around me. I just have to take the time to notice it. Isn’t that true about so much of our lives? We are more grateful when we take the time to give thanks. We’re more patient when we slow down and practice patience. We’re better and happier moms when we take time to notice the good in our kids. And trust me, there is so, so much good in them.
Jenny Cowan is a happy wife and mother of two boys. You can follow her musings along on her blog, Musings from Mommyhood.