Recently, I’ve taken a close look at what’s been going on in my house. Not the – we need to paint that or the floor is really dirty there or I need to take those curtains down and wash them – kind of look, but something more important. Something that gets overlooked because of all those other things. Day to day life, the very rhythm of it tends to interfere with this most often. That something is my children. Yes, the little ones I am constantly writing about here.
Sometimes I feel like I don’t completely check in with the emotional, physical and even educational needs of my children. Now, you may be saying- Well what the hell are you doing? That should be your priority! And you’re right, it should and usually is. But for whatever reason, once in a while things seem to get all mottled up. Or you just go along with your routine, but you don’t really dig deep. Sometimes, and it shames me a little to say it, you’re so damn tired of everything, you don’t have the strength.
Kian has completed his first year of kindergarten. Overall he did very well. He’s smart and very social and incredibly sweet. His personality is very different from his siblings in that he’s far more mild-mannered, sensitive and significantly less aggressive. He is just as happy playing in a group of children as he is playing by himself. His imagination is, at times, difficult to comprehend. Often I just watch him, amazed at where his little mind must be taking him. He requires a great deal less attention than his siblings, largely impart to his easy going content nature. But I’ve realized that these wonderful traits have led to a big lack of needed attention. Because he is so good and so easy, he gets set aside a little more often than his brothers and sister. They are all far more demanding in their own unique way and even when attempts are made to do homework, read a book or even just talk about his day, one of them usually interrupts with a demand or issue. Kian’s reading scores are a little below what they need to be. Nothing drastic, but definitely lower than where he should be for his level of intelligence. He can’t swim without the aid of swimmies, and he can’t ride a bike without training wheels. I know- we’re terrible parents.
My husband and I talked about this the other night. We took turns berating ourselves and our parenting. Trying to take the blame and resolve the issue. He’s been in school and working and is rarely home. I’m out numbered and can only do so much in one day- not excuses, but facts of life that need to be recognized and remedied. It was heart-wrenching and distressing to realize that maybe we’ve let our little Kian go. So what do we do?
I’ll be completely honest; the hardest part of having four children is having the ability to divide not your love, but your time and attention. It is extremely hard to take 20-30 minutes a day with just one child. There are only so many hours in the day and most of them are filled with work and school. By the time you get home to sit and share or catch up, everyone is exhausted or hungry. Almost nightly I make exhaustive efforts to sit down and eat dinner together, but it’s never a scene from 7th Heaven. Someone is always crying, someone always hates what I’ve made, someone always spills something, someone always has to poop during the meal, someone always get up out of their seat and needs to be restrained- ok, you get it right? Needless to say, after the dinner fiasco, we move on to homework completion (which is absurd for a 6 year old) while I do dinner clean up, then baths and bed. Somewhere in there I try to fit in a book or “How was your day?”, but it’s still always combined with some form of chaos.
Thinking about this out loud with my husband, reminded me of something my mother just said to me a few weeks ago. She reminded me that my kids are just little and will only be for a short time. Regardless of how much it may seem like it will be forever until they grow and are on to all sorts of new needs. Now, especially, they need my (and my husbands) undivided attention- as much as I can give. And as much as I keep telling myself this, I mean it more now than ever. Things will have to be set aside. Including friends popping in for a glass of wine, the house getting cleaned, dishes, laundry and whatever else I always feel needs doing right now. I have realigned my attention, my focus and will try like hell not let my little Kian take the back burner to his siblings.
After thinking this through and writing it out, I feel better having taken a look at what’s going on in my house. I think it’s important as parents to do a bit of an evaluation once in a while. I think that there is a lot we miss as we go along day to day, living our busy lives. I also think it’s important to acknowledge it and not pretend that it’s not happening. There are so many things that you encounter as you raise your children, little things and big things. Things that will be your fault and things that you can’t control. But the most important thing, is making sure you do something about it. Getting your child the help they need, giving them the attention they lack or reconsidering your priorities.
And don’t feel too bad about not getting the parent of the year award. Honestly, I don’t know of anyone who’s actually received it.