One week and 250+ hugs later...
My daughters have each gotten manicures and pedicures from me, foot rubs (really giggle sessions) and hand massages. We discovered that vanilla-scented lotion is "better than eating ice cream!" and we baked banana bread to see us through several weekend breakfasts.
Corazon and I have played countless games of Scr*bble and Tr*uble, and Block*s, read for an hour from the same book while sitting side-by-side, had "coffee" while designing our own family logo, talked about puberty, periods, and body hair while cleaning a closet, and sat outside to watch a storm roll in.
Milagro and I played with her hand puppets, played with her baby dolls (I was the "babysitter"), went on a hunt for "Y sticks," and had a "screaming contest" to see who had the loudest, longest, softest and scariest yells. I lost each one of those contests but it was rigged since she was the judge. We also took a "pretend" nap on the couch, read "Please, Baby, Please" more than 20 times, and "cooked" dinner together.
My sons have each gotten manicures and pedicures and hand massages from me. They got the privilege of giving ME foot rubs (I have my lines!!!!!) We learned to play Wii bowling together.
Pollito and I jumped on the trampoline while singing at the top of our lungs, went grocery shopping "just ourselves," had breakfast together (just the two of us) and took pictures of each other making funny faces. I told him his birth, gotcha and adoption stories 7 or 8 times (twice during our grocery store run), and we built a new home for all his dinosaurs with legos (waaaaay longer than a 30 minute activity). We have cuddled on the couch, fed each other m&ms, and made up a new lullaby just for him.
Tortuga and I sat back to back for 10-15 minutes and talked about something every. single. day. this past week. He brushed my hair and gave me a foot massage while I sang him ALL of the baby's lullabies that he could remember. I tucked him in one night and stayed until he fell asleep. We played Bl*ckus, looked through the beginning of his lifebook and started a new scrapbook for 2010, and made "fancy" paper airplanes then had a contest to see whose flew higher, longer and "better." He showed me 3 new magic tricks that he made up and I pretended not to know how they worked so he could explain them to me and he taught me how to "play" his guitar.
One week and 250+ hugs later...
I have counted the times this week that Milagro said "Excuse me mom, can you hold me?" and "I need you to hold me NOW!!!!" plus the times she threw her head up and kicked and screamed because she didn't, couldn't, wouldn't or shouldn't get whatever she wanted/needed. This helped me gain a new appreciation for how hard negotiating life's realities can be for a "normal" child and wonder at how many times my older children felt and feel this way but haven't known how to ask or expected to get what they needed. I am greatly aware of how easy it is to hug, hold, and kiss my toddler and tell her all the reasons I love her. I am aware of how much I want to always feel this way about her. I thank the Creator for bringing her into my life to remind me how one's childhood should be and how much love and affection we all really need/want.
I have watched Pollito's eyes light up when I "sneak in" to wake him before everyone else is up even though he probably could have used the sleep. I have taken "time outs" with him when he wasn't playing nicely with his sister and used that as an opportunity to hear him tell me how hard it is to be nice when he doesn't want to be. (I could totally relate!) I am more aware of how often I don't take the opportunity to hug, hold, and tell him all the reasons I love him. I thank the Creator for bringing him into my life to remind me how important a parent's response and attitude is in making the worst feelings and consequences seem not so bad when there's someone there to help you through them.
I have witnessed Corazon's body totally melt into me as she spontaneously said "Mom I love you so much" and been able to see that love in her eyes. I am reminded that this was not always so. I am aware of how quickly my little girl is growing up and how fast time really has flown even though years with her have sometimes felt like hell. I am more aware of how often I don't take the opportunity to hug, hold, and tell her all the reasons I love her and all that makes her special. I am more mindful to thank her for all the things she does to help me and all the things that she teaches me about how to bet a better mom to her. I thank the Creator for bringing her into my life to remind me how important it is to parent in a purposeful manner and to notice not only what she tells me but what she doesn't say that is often so much more meaningful.
I have witnessed Tortuga's desperate need to be 2, 3, and 4 years old again and my equally desperate fight to make him grow up. I have seen him most at ease when he is playing with Milagro and her "baby" toys and truly realized that no one played with him like that. I have heard him say "I love you" and "that was so much fun, mom" with a genuine joy that hasn't been here very long. It feels like I am witnessing a caterpillar emerge from a cocoon and I am fighting with every ounce of my being to not rush that process along. I am finally letting myself get really angry for what he has missed out on and (if I am honest) for being the one who has to somehow rectify that. I am more aware of how often I don't take the opportunity to hug, hold, and tell him all the reasons I love him because I am often so caught up in the things that make me not like him very much. I am aware of how much easier it is to remember to hug him if I just "pick a tick" for the day and use that as the reason to give him a hug. I thank the Creator for bringing him into my life to remind me how important it is to show love to our children especially when they are being their most unlovable, unlikable selves.
One week and 250+ hugs later...
We are a "huggy" family to begin with but now we are aware of how much we want and need those hugs. Don't misunderstand and think this was a better week than most others. It wasn't. In some ways it was much worse but I don't know how to tackle that just yet. It has been a hard week. We have had all the usual ups and downs--fun moments, good laughs, family meals, walks, moments of discovery, quiet moments, fights, meltdowns, tantrums, defiance, rudeness, meanness, and wishes for the day to end! One thing that is different is that I have a new sense of deliberateness to how I want my children to feel every day as they interact with me no matter how lousy their behavior, attitude, or day has been. I am also more aware that I can do this even if sometimes it's the farthest thing from my mind and I have to "fake it" to get through it.
Thank you Christine. =D> You are amazing. ^:)^