I love spring. I love everything about it. The weather is perfect, my yard smells of blooming jasmine, the hot pink and white crepe myrtle trees are stunning and the bright, colorful flowers make me smile. And I love that spring is the yearly reminder, and promise, that after darkness comes light, renewal and rebirth.
It's too bad that both of my daughters hate it. Conceptually they like it, mostly because of their love for the resurgence of tank tops, flip flops and the allure of warm summer days to come. But because of their awful allergies, my kids can barely be outside for more than five minutes before they are sneezing, wheezing and rubbing their eyes. It is so sad for them. I feel awful for them! And, I simply can't relate.
Though I really do have empathy and compassion for how bad they are suffering, I never have experienced the level of misery that a beautiful spring day brings them. Honestly, I get really bummed that they make me close the windows, won't go outside to play, are hesitant to go a morning bike ride with me and would rather stay inside curled up on the couch. Isn't that what winter is all about?
However, I have learned that one of the best ways to counteract the invasive pollen is to have them shower after school. My daughters are 8 and 10 years old; they've been bathing themselves for quite some time now, and not only do I love their ability to be self-sufficient, I love that it buys me a few minutes of elusive alone time, whether to get chores or work done, or just to have a glorious moment to myself for just being.
But tonight, my youngest daughter asked me to come upstairs and bathe her. My first reaction was to tell her I was busy and that she was capable of doing it for herself. I do pride myself on raising competent and capable children. However, after taking a deep breath and tapping into my empathy for her misery, and back into my intentions of being a mindful mom, my actual was response to her was, "Of course I will!"
You see, in that moment, I realized that a conscious parent does not let opportunity for meaningful connection and presence pass them by. Sure, there are times that I can't always stop what I'm doing to help them, or honestly, there are times I just don't want to stop what I'm doing. (Remember, you're not a bad parent for not liking all parts of this job!) But tonight, I realized that nothing was really more pressing or more important than spending some time with my little girl, especially since she wasn't feeling well.
So, just like when she was little, I drew the bath for her, made sure the temperature was just right, and sat myself cross-legged at the bath's edge. I suggested we play the game of me soaping her back and drawing letters, numbers or shapes to see if she could guess what they were. Listening to her giggle over my confusing pictures and watching her squeal as I tickled her sides allowed me to become fully present in this moment with her.
It is so easy, as our kids grow up, to use their independent abilities as an excuse to stop spending quality time with them. I'm sure the same will feel true when our teenagers get their driver's license and now all the conversation that you shared -- or overheard in the backseat -- disappears once carpooling them all over town is over.
But in this moment, I got to be present, laugh, giggle and play with my daughter. It was so fun! I showed her how to make bubbles by spreading the soap in between her fingers and blowing slowly. I tried to get bubbles to land on her back or on her arm without popping, and she just glowed with delight at the bubble man (looked like a snowman) I was able to create floating in the water. This was a moment I was glad I did not pass up. It really would have been so easy to not acknowledge the opportunity to create a meaningful connection and fun memory. As it turns out, she didn't really need me, but she wanted me. And I wanted to be there with her. I, too, delighted in the bubbles and giggles and all that the joys that being present with my daughter offers me.