Let me set the scene.
Child one is playing blocks, building a fantastic tower. Children two and three are working on various “art” projects at the table. Child four is reading her book. And the baby is sleeping. My chore list is short – only a couple of 15 minute jobs left. So, I choose to sit down in my chair, just for a moment. Then, I hear: “Mommy, do you want to build a castle with me?”
Honestly, my first reaction is the selfish reaction – the no, I want to sit in my chair for 10 minutes and do nothing. But, I am learning that this reaction causes hurt to my child. It tells them that they aren’t as important as Mommy resting. So, I’ve been trying a lot more to go with the second reaction. This reaction goes more like this: “Yes! Yes, I do want to play with you. How big are we going to make the castle? What color should we use?” And so forth.
Immediately my child reacts to this message. I see a light come into her eyes, kindled by the understanding that she is important. That among all the things I could be doing at that moment, I picked her. I chose to spend time filling her up with my love. And then something magical happens.
After a few minutes of playing with just her, my oldest comes over and starts to play with us. We start laughing and goofing off and having a grand time together. Then, slowly, the two boys join in. It doesn’t matter that we’re making a princess castle and playing with Ariel and Cinderella. They make a moat for the castle and a few bad guys to fight off. And we are laughing, and filling each other up with love and acceptance. A feeling of safety fills everyone in the room. And I silently wish the moment never ends. To me this is what makes being a Mom worth it. This is my paycheck.
After 30 or so minutes of this magical moment, duty calls, and I must get up and start dinner. Sigh. But then another amazing thing happens. Even though I’ve left the game, my children stay happily engaged and playing nicely with each other. They are laughing and playing together – almost perfectly. The game evolves into something else, but still there is no fighting. It’s a miracle and makes for a miraculous afternoon.
All this happened because I said yes to the request to build a castle with my child. Because I chose to spend time playing with my child, love entered our home and filled up all of my children. We were able to connect with each other, build our relationships, grow closer together, and strengthen each other. All because of a simple yes.
It is truly amazing what can happen when we forget ourselves and our lists and listen to the needs of our children. This simple act allows miracles to occur. As mothers and fathers, let’s play with them more and give them our time – it makes a world of difference.