Saturday, May 10, 2014

I've gotta slow down

"Will you wave to me from the window?"

He grins wide and runs over to wait, pumping his arms like a real little racer, as I turn to walk out. I move through the piazza, past the colorful kid art and padded gym-mat wedges. I cross through the new wooden gate,  down the small flight of stairs. I grab the old EatingWell calendars I brought in for art-projects, set down when Kai and I came in because it was heavy, and tell Tracy Christina is expecting them. I hurry out to the van, fumble around in my bag and pull out two checks, one I've been meaning deposit for more than a month. I already feel accomplished, productive.

For whatever reason, I look up, out the windshield. At the building. The window—which is framing the saddest little face. Kai is sobbing. Somewhere between here and there, I'd totally forgotten about the wave. My heart stops, and then drops into my stomach. I fling open the door and sprint back into the building, up the stairs, through the gate, past the colorful art and padded mats.

A day I didn't forget to wave. 

When he sees me back, he rushes right over and I apologize again and again. He laughs through tears. I tell him that I feel lucky to get a bonus hug from him. He hugs me tightly and shouts, a bonus hug. He's over it. I'm not. I'm so pissed at myself getting so caught up in my to-do that I forgot to say goodbye to my sweet, little expectant boy. That I'm always so in my own head that I overlook the significance of what's going on in my kids'. 

The other night, a friend mentioned that another, mutual friend remarked how Jon always seemed so "tuned in" to our kids. He is—and the comment wasn't meant to imply that I'm not. But it's true: that often, I'm not. I'm no in tune with anything. I'm rushing and running and reacting. And I don't like it.

Every year on my birthday, I make some resolutions for myself. Every year, in the first week of May, both of my boys have another birthday. I've decide to use this time to create, renew and review my parenting resolutions. The first one is to set aside full chunks of time where I'm fully focused on my kids. No phone, no lunch packing, no check writing, no reading while we sit and watch a show together. I'm 100% certain that I won't be 100% successful but I'm going to try. I'm going to set aside times to get that other shit done, fully focused. 

How do you stay a present parent? 

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