Esther, my oldest, has began sneaking out of her room after bedtime and laying down on the floor at the top of the stairs. She knows if we find her she gets put back to bed so she’s stealth about it. I don’t think she’s trying to be difficult, I think she’s trying to get as close as she can to us. She loves her mommy and daddy and if she’s awake that is where she wants to be.
The demands of parenting always amaze me. With five kids between the ages of 9 months and 4 years there is always someone who wants and even needs more attention than I can give in the moment. I made the mistake of trying to put up a baby gate yesterday and the lack of attention this event caused sparked an all out 3 toddler rebellion. Helplessness…fighting…whining. You name it they threw it at me all because I was wielding a drill instead of a children’s book.
Finding my daugther at the top of the stairs stirred my heart in two ways. It made me want to go cuddle her and rock her to sleep, to cherish these moments with her when she is young like this. But, all the while I knew it would only encourage this behavior and turn it into a pattern. So, back to bed she went as I decided to make sure I carved some time out today for an extra dose of mommy-daughter snuggles. But there was something else that stirred in me too: the realization that we were being watched when all the while we thought we weren’t.
Thing is, it is easy to think that once they are in bed it’s our time. We can say what we want to say, watch what we want to watch, do what we want to do… but the reality is much different. Because in a family there is always someone watching. Someone listening. Someone learning. Someone who will be laying in the dark at the top of the stairs absorbing every word and action of mom and dad. It’s a privilege to be a parent, and it amazes me that God actually trusts Brian and I with these little hearts that are impressionable and vulnerable.
One thing I have changed is my music. I began listening to Swing music. That’s right…Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Louis Armstrong. It’s talented, upbeat, meant for adults and most importantly it’s clean.
Of course it has cost me my up-to-date cool factor. Which was painfully on display at a not-for-moms function where I referred to my sister Missy and someone jokingly replied, “Missy Elliot?” To which I responded, “No, Missy Crouse. Missy Elliot sounds familiar though. Have I met her?” Then someone took pity. Recognized that aside from toddler music I don’t hear much of anything else and explained to me that she was an R&B artist. Immediately my self defense mechanism kicked in and I began to search for my drink which giving the others a chance to flee the social train wreck. Once left alone to my musings I realized knew who she was. I used to listen to her in high school. But I’m a mom now and things in my life have changed. My life is not my own.
Aside from the occasionally awkward moment, I am at peace because I am who I want to be. My life is more full than it ever has been before. So I want my home to be a place that protects the innocence of my children and promotes their development whether they are around or not. Why? Because a facade isn’t enough. The change in me has got to go deeper. It’s got to be real through and through or they will never believe it. They will rebel against the hypocrisy. And I know I’ve heard that song before.