I think, often, about how my two younger children have not, overall, received as much attention from me as the older two. It wouldn't be too hard to blame this on the idea that the more children there are, the less of mom there is to go around. It's a valid argument. Four children vying for attention instead of two, absolutely requires more conscious effort and creativity. It's true, also, that a brood of children have a tendency to somewhat entertain each other and yet, I know that they need individual attention. I try to shoot for this. I take them out alone, in their turn, when I can but not as much as I'd like.
Sometimes it makes me sad to think back to the days when the older two were younger, when it was just them. I remember when True was in preschool and I only had Annika at home. She and I had our little routine. We read stories, worked puzzles, drew together. Further back than that, as a young mother, when it was only True, he and I spent endless quality time together. Less stress and perhaps, more motherly enthusiasm meant that I dedicated hours to teaching him, playing with him and just being silly with him. We used to sing in front of the mirror together, using hairbrushes as microphones.
I feel sad thinking about this because so much of that, the younger two have missed out on. And when I really analyze it, although amount of children plays in, the fact is- life was simpler then.
Confession: I'm not merely distracted by four kids running in four directions. I'm now way too easily distracted by technology. Blogging, Facebook, online school, texting. None of this was in my life when the older two were younger. And I might have been a better mom.
Sitting in the parking lot of True and Annika's school yesterday, waiting the fifteen minutes it takes for them to be delivered to me, Palin asleep, Verity chatted in my ear while I checked my email on my phone. As if there might be anything that important. But I opened A Holy Experience and read about the practice of relationship. And it occurred to me that right now, I could spend that time with Verity. So I did. We played hangman. And not on my phone (though I was tempted).
This is a practice. It's so easy to 'multi-task' to the point of losing sight of these brief moments when children are young. The now moments. These moments when they want to be with us. I don't want to look back and realize that this time has passed. Will I remember any one email I opened up or anyone's status update on Facebook? Probably not. But the essence of time spent listening or playing with my kids- that I want to remember. I need to practice ignoring the lure of phone notifications, these false demands, all that's far less important than just being. Just being available and present when I'm with my children. Practicing that which used to come easier. Practicing because it no longer comes easy. Practicing to get back to that place.