This post is a part of my “Board Book Beauty – Savoring the small as I read to my toddler” series. To see all of the posts in the series, go here.
Katie and I had a few rough mornings this week, mornings where one (or both) of us woke up on the wrong side of bed, mornings where two-year-old independence and toddler emotions ran smack dab into adult logic and dwindling patience. We made it through to the other side, and whatever was in the air seems to have cleared (at least for the moment) but there were a few points in the middle where I sat at my kitchen table, staring at nothing as a baby cried in my arms and a toddler yelled by my side, and I wondered how we were all going to survive the day.
Survive we did, thanks in no little part to a husband gracious enough to finish laundry and wash dishes after working all day, to a mom and sister and mother-in-law and friend who filled my freezer with meals a few months ago, to a baby who slept for seven hours straight two nights in a row (though I must be honest: toddler tantrums deplete my reserves far faster than middle-of-the-night feedings do).
We sat in the living room yesterday evening in relative calm and happiness after a hard morning. Jonathan and Katie were choosing their bedtime story. “How about Little Blue Truck? We haven’t read that one in a while, and it’s a fun one!” he said. (He was right; we hadn’t. Katie has been on a bible kick lately, always wanting to read from The Jesus Storybook Bible, and it seems wrong, somehow, to encourage her toward something else.)
She agreed and they snuggled on the couch together. He paused at each fun sound. Her high voice would join his low one in making the animal noises and Blue’s cheerful “beep!” The sight of them enjoying the book, enjoying each other, somehow eased the frustration of the preceding hours, somehow reminded me of why we wanted to have children in the first place.
Then they got to the page where the dump truck makes his appearance. “Honk!” he says, “Coming through! I’ve big important things to do. I haven’t got time to pass the day with every duck along the way!”
And it is so cliché, so common, so obvious. This lesson, taught here in a children’s book, about valuing others, about seeing those in front of us. Something I’ve heard time and time again and should have learned by now, but it took this moment, on the couch, for me to see it again: these small humans – and all other humans that God places in my path – deserve to be seen by me. They deserve my attention and my care, and they are so much more important than the busyness I create for myself, than the many items on my to-do list.
The moments of difficulty in the past several days, where we’d butted heads and she’d melted down and I’d been unsure of what to do? Almost every one came at a time when I was in a hurry. When I had somewhere to go, someplace to be, something to do, and I didn’t take the time to slow down, to hear what she was saying to me.
I know, of course, that she’s two, that she’s learning how to manage emotions and declare autonomy in healthy ways, that there will be conflict even in times when I do everything right. And there’s a balance to be struck, a time for chores and a time for work and a time for Katie and I to be doing separate things. But there are also times for presence, for intention, for giving those things that are important in her world my full attention.
We had a good morning today. Part of that was because Grandma came to visit – always a highlight of the week for my little girl – but part of it, I believe, is because we spent time having fun together, with no agenda, no rush, no pressure. We went outside in the pouring rain and stomped in puddles, getting drenched to the skin, then came in and made hot chocolate. I almost didn’t make the effort, almost stayed warm and dry inside with my adult sensibilities and adult agenda, but then I remembered the last few days, remembered the dump truck from the story last night, and, this once, made the right choice. I’m so glad I did.
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