He’s been abroad at a learning program in Israel and I’ve been home with the kids now for five days with three more days to go. “I’m really exhausted and feel pretty irritable and snappy at the kids,” I proceeded to share with him. “I guess I’m overwhelmed and haven’t had any patience for whining, crying, or sibling rivalry.”
“I’m sorry,” my husband said empathically; I knew after this exchange that he was probably feeling really badly for being way.
Three days later when my husband asked how we were holding up, I had a different response, despite my clear exhaustion. “I really love our children,” I said enthusiastically.
Of course my husband knows I love our kids but he was surprised by my reaction that was quite different than my response a few days before. “That’s good to know,” he said, and I knew he was smiling at the other end of the phone. I proceed to explain that I decided in the past couple of days to really taken the opportunity to spend alone time with each of our four children: Elyon (8.5), Itai (6.5), Adi (3.5), and Liat (21 months old).
Sure, it’s been draining juggling my own work, helping kids with homework, making dinner, not to mention Mardi Gras and Super Bowl madness (I live in new Orleans!). But I’ve gained some perspective the past couple of days, which I definitely needed, that has reminded me of the unique qualities that I love about each of our kids. Thanks to the help of Grandma, I was able to take each child out to dinner, without the normal distractions of my phone, house duties, and his/her siblings.
When I took Elyon out to dinner, we bumped into some guests that had been staying with us for the superbowl, and as they were leaving to go to the airport, Elyon said to them, “I really hope you had a nice time in New Orleans.” I told Elyon that was very friendly of him and was reminded in that moment of Elyon’s strength to make people feel comfortable.
And then there was my dinner date with Itai. Before we ordered our food, Itai gave me a warm hug and said thank you for taking him out. I thanked Itai for his hugs and told him how I always love his cozy hugs. After dinner, I walked away with a renewed appreciation of Itai’s ability to be warm and affectionate.
I had a wonderful time taking Adi out to dinner as well. At dinner, she was quite talkative and kept telling me about friends in her class who are sometimes sad or friends who miss their mommies when they are in school. “You really care about your friends’ feelings,” I told Adi and left dinner so proud of my daughter’s quality of being in tune with other people’s feelings.
Last is little Liat, who is only 21 months old. We didn’t go to dinner but had special time while all the other children were still at school one day. Although every week I have special time with Liat, I’m generally distracted by a phone call or feeling pressure to clean up the house and make dinner. This week I decided to be fully present with my Liat. She looked at my arm and said, “Boo boo. Ok? Ok?” I spent the hour singing, dancing, and reading books with her and appreciating my Liat’s keen sense to notice all the details and be so caring at such a young age.
Although next week, I might not have the privilege of spending an hour or two alone with each child, I hope that I could make a better effort to see each child for his/her individual uniqueness. I hope that when life seems chaotic, as it often is, with Elyon teasing, Itai punching Adi, and Adi taking toys from Liat, that I could take a moment to focus on Elyon’s friendliness, Itai’s warmth, Adi’s sensitivity, and Liat’s ability to notice all the details and use my renewed awe of my children, to respond more positively, effectively, and lovingly to them–even when Uri is back from his trip.