Before I had children, I remember studying childhood developmental stages, marveling at the extraordinary abilities of even an infant to respond to adult voices and emotion, to mirror the calm or stress of his or her environment. Clearly, when I finally became a mother I would avoid the pitfalls I had read about. I would manage my own emotions with openness yet moderation. That was the plan…
Now as a mother, I understand just how hard this can be to achieve, yet I am still learning. Our children are watching us every hour of every day (and night sometimes as well!). They see how we manage our work and home life balance (yes that walk perhaps from kitchen to our “office” – maybe a real one or just a corner of a bedroom. (My favorite radio announcer says daily he is broadcasting from the master bedroom closet). Our children see how we cope with the demands of supporting their education at home while juggling work and home duties, usually without the usual respite of housecleaners, babysitters, activities, or school hours. They see how we treat our spouses, extended family members, friends, even ourselves. It can feel like a great burden, this constant surveillance. Do we measure up? Will they be damaged by our shortcomings?
I try to see this time as not only a hardship but also a gift. My heart aches for the countless around our county who are ill, caring for a loved one, or worse still, sick and alone in a hospital. Our compassion, healing wishes, and prayers are with each one. Yet if we are blessed enough to be healthy at home now, this time with our families can draw us closer. We see our child with new eyes—not as an extension of ourselves but as a unique individual with his or her own abilities, imagination, playfulness, and depth.
We have a chance to be more than chauffeurs and directors of the household, but our child’s mentor, companion, teacher, and friend. Yes our children may miss school, activities, and friends, but they have us. We shape how they will remember this time, measured by the moments we spent with them, being present, playful, and willing to engage without always saying “later”. When our children truly feel seen, when we reflect back to them their value and worth, this is an immeasurable gift that will help sustain
them for all the joys and challenges ahead.