Back to the Basics of Mothering..

Arizona’s scorching heat returned the end of this week, and because both my daughters’ have metabolic energy issues, and the school week was extra busy.. this made for very grumpy girls. Being hot makes us all a little grumpier, but for my girls when their bodies are truly out of fuel- it can reach a new level .

Maybe you have experienced what I have,your child flinging himself onto the floor , or sidewalk overcome with frustration, anxiety or anger, your child running away from you, scaling a wall, rushing out into the street, experiencing a full fledged anxiety attack. Crying, and sobbing.. just because they can’t quite process fatigue or frustration that is calmed only by a strong, yet loving embrace.

When my girls are out of energy, it can be compared to a toddler, pre-nap afternoon episode. Remember the hurried flurry of fixing a bottle on the fly, trying to calm a crying child? 

Well, fast forward a bit imagining me fixing a taco, or cheese and cracker snack at the same record, frenzied speed. The after -effect is spookily the same.. quiet and calm with the wiped away tears barely visible .

But these episodes take their toll on all of us, and at the end of the day- I am left a little more weary ,yet a little more determined. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t try to be perfect. It is something I gave up on long ago. If you look at me closely, you can tell- my nails are unpolished, my hair finished off in the car with a little extra slab of styling cream, the lack of caretaking hopefully hidden by a good haircut. I prioritize, and just do my best each day.

But  I am always second guessing myself.. can I make tomorrow a better day? How can I pre-empt the meltdown? How can I make more smiles? More laughter? Spread a little more love? What did I rush through- forget about , not attend to? With work, a family business, two different elementary schools for the girls, and a never ending list of health issues.. it’s always something.. And it’s the basics, I always come back to- to give me the answers, solve my challenges.

Real affection and the benefits of hugs and kisses is something we take for granted. Do we make enough time for it? Take the extra few minutes to embrace our spouse? Share hugs with the kids – just because? I have taken time to teach my kids.. actually explaining.. that hugs make you feel better. I figure that kids make the connection between chocolate and happiness- why not call out the connection to hugs and affection too?

When I was new to mothering, I spent a lot of time trying to learn the motherly art of nurturing. My favorites short list: Cuddly blankets and pillows for bed and reading time, the comfiest pj’s ever, celebrating a child’s favorite family dinner choice just because, paying attention to their special pick me-ups and supplying them when needed ( a favorite new dvd or book from the library, bringing their favorite music cd along in the car, their favorite sheets on the bed, their favorite color or character, a favorite after school snack..) You get the idea. I believe these types of nurturing , make every child’s day just a little bit easier.

Planning my daughter’s favorite dinner after her longest, hardest day of the week- does help. A vase of fresh cut flowers from the backyard, set next to her place setting, the special treat of Sprite with dinner, or chocolate milk- or an ice cream cone after school. Sharing a favorite book – or story, with some quiet time on the couch.

A trip to the library at the end of the week is a wonderful reward for all of us. A couple movies for the weekend, new books, new stories, new worlds to explore give us all a much needed escape. My fix for these stressful times is often audiobooks- a great compromise allowing me some me time, while the kids are occupied. With my ipod in one ear, it’s amazing how much I look forward to folding laundry with the promise of dipping into my latest book again.

It’s a few weeks until summer starts – we have a lot of school tests, and long, hot days to get through.. until we get there, I will do all I can to avoid those grumpy girl moments.

Just last night while I lay with Zoe, I couldn’t help but mentally review my “ go-to” check list for today.. those nurturing basics again I turn to- when nothing else is working. More rest, More love, More fun, good food.. Zoe had just rolled over, tucked her arm beneath her pillow and I was waiting for the even sound of her breathing , to signal her sleep..

“Are you really tired Mommy?” I heard her ask, her voice thick and slower than usual as she spoke from a half sleep .. “ Yep.” I confirmed. “ Okay” she said, as she rolled over onto me awkwardly wrapping her arms around me.. “This hug will help you feel better.”

Then she held on to my hand as she always does, just for a moment or so before I heard her whisper “ This helps me…” as she fell off to sleep.

I lay there for a moment, and even though she couldn’t hear me I whispered back..

“ This helps me too Zoe.”






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