Tuesday, April 20, 2010

You forgot to turn off the light

Yesterday I was feeling STRESSED. Between the economy still taking pot shots at my business and the remodeling, I have had a hard time focusing. Last night was no exception.

Kristen and I still read stories together before she goes to bed. I told my girls that I will read with them at night as long as they are interested. It has been a great excuse to read some fun young adult and children's novels. After reading together and saying family prayers I tucked her in bed. We had our traditional hug, kiss and "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite" moment and I left her room. I forgot to turn off the light.

I had slipped into the bathroom only to hear her call out, "You forgot to turn off the light." "Sorry, sweets, I will turn off the light when I come out." As I was washing my hands, my mind became inundated with questions: how much time it would take to run back to work to get time cards, how could I improve summer camp enrollment, will the contractor remember to move that light?, I need to go pick out my carpet color, will we have to paint ourselves or be able to pay someone, Oh - shoot I never worked out today and it's almost 10! I have a busy day tomorrow I need to get out of here....and on and on. This and more took place in the brief amount of time it took me to wash my hands. I left the bathroom, slipped on my shoes and headed out to my car. As I was pulling out of the driveway, Kristen came running out of the house and said, "You forgot to turn off my light." I apologized, told her I had a lot on my mind...she said it was okay and went back into the house.

I thought, "Why would she get out of bed, come up the stairs and stop me from leaving to remind me that I forgot to turn off her light?" Am I seeming so consumed with my own problems that she is feeling like her needs are being ignored? There is more to this than remembering to turn out the light.

I spend all day teaching parent's about child development - but fall into the trap of not practicing what I preach. When all is said and done, no matter what happens at work, in my marriage, in my mind, I want my children to feel important. I want them to feel and believe that they are truly great individuals.

This week I am teaching parents about the importance of affection. That instinct to cuddle and cradle our little ones actually turns on a "switch", if you will, in an infant's brain. It triggers the neuron development that builds self-esteem and social development. Without that affection, an infant will not thrive.

In the 1920s the popular parenting trend was to be a "hands off" parent....literally. If your child did something that made you feel proud you could kiss their forehead or pat them on the head, but hugging, snuggling, being overly demonstrative would be detrimental to the child in the long run. In 1928 a physician named Dr. J. Brenneman, decided something drastic needed to be done to lower the infant mortality rate at his hospital. He insisted each infant and child be hugged, rocked, cuddled and carried throughout the day, or "mothered." The mortality rate dropped from 35% to under 10% in one year. The only change was the "mothering."

Unsolicited parenting advice: Learn all you can about child development...then trust your heart.

As my children grow and we all get busier and I have to think, "How many times have I hugged her today?" Virginia Satir says we need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 hugs a day for maintenance and 12 hugs a day for growth. Had I been fitting in 4 or 8 hugs?

When I got home from work Kristen was still awake. I gave her another hug and told her that I shouldn't have forgotten to turn off her light. She said she was kind of embarrassed that she had made a big deal over it. I told her that no matter what was going on in my world....nothing would ever be more important to me than what was going on in hers. I gave her one more hug and then turned off the light.


Jill said...

I tend to hug my kids many, many times a day, sometimes to their chagrin. But I can't remember my parents ever really hugging me unless we were making up from a fight or something. No wonder I'm a mess.

michelle said...

I love that instead of being annoyed that she would expend so much energy coming to tell instead of just turning out the light herself, you immediately wondered what she might need that would cause her to act that way. You are a wonderful mother.

Now, can you solve the problem of Eva suddenly being too afraid of noises to go to sleep and/or stay asleep?!

Tricia said...

k, there should have been a disclaimer on this entry.. "if you are 8.5 months preggo and severely hormonal, grab some tissue NOW!" sheesh!

your're such a good mom. thanks for posting this. with everything going on crazy-like in my life, i've found indy just adds to my stress. this makes me think about how much stress she's probably under and i need to be more sensitive to her. thanks, michelle! you're amazing!