How my daughter taught me to slow down

Some days I find myself running from the time I wake up until I collapse into bed at the end of the day.  Between school, meetings, work, errands, extracurricular activities, housework, and just life, it feels like I’m constantly hurrying from one task to another.  Sometimes I get up in the morning and am immediately exhausted again by just thinking about everything on my list to do that day.

Over the last two years I’ve been trying to cut things back, and I’ve slowly made some progress, although probably not much to an outside observer.  However, the other day, as I was trying to get some chores done while asking the girls about their day, Layla (my nine year old) did something that really hit me.

connect with your child

As I walked by her headed to one chore or another, she wrapped her arms around me for a hug.  I stopped (which I’m embarrassed to admit, I don’t always do very graciously), and hugged her back.  We stood there for a moment, just hugging, and she said, “This is nice. I like hugging without hurrying.”

I closed my eyes and lost my breath for a moment. Part of me immediately felt guilty.  How often do I do that?  Make my daughter feel like I’m hurrying through affection, as if I’m checking it off of my to-do list? Ask how school was…check.  Hug and kiss hello…check.  Wash the dishes…check.  Do my kids feel like they need to squeeze time with me into my busy calendar?  As if they need an appointment in order to really get my attention?

I quickly decided I wasn’t going to wallow in that guilt, though.  Perhaps there are days where it does seem like that, but I know my kids feel loved.  I know that although they suffer from busy overload sometimes, our children hear “I love you” every day from both of their parents. 

Instead of guilt and self-recrimination, I’m choosing to focus on that glimpse into her heart that my daughter gave me.  I’m choosing to listen to what she said and take it to heart. 

connect with your child

Hugging without hurrying.  It’s such a simple thing, but so powerful.

As I stood there with my eyes closed holding my daughter, I could feel her heart beating against mine. I could hear each breath we took, and smell that unique combination of pencil shavings, clean sweat from the playground, and the shampoo she washes her hair with. For the first time in too long, I was solely living in that moment.

I wasn’t thinking about anything but her, letting her absorb my whole attention.

That’s my new goal, my new resolution.  I want to keep cutting things out that are cutting into our family time, but I also want to make sure that even when life is busy around me, I’m still taking those moments to hug without hurrying. I want to be there for my kids with my whole self, even if it’s just for the time it takes to give a hug.

Take a moment to be with my kids, and don’t rush through it.  Don’t be thinking of all of the stuff I haven’t finished.  Don’t be worrying about the next meeting, the next chore to be done or the next phone call to make.  Stop. Breathe. Really hug, with my whole body. Really listen, with my whole mind. Really BE with my child at that moment, sharing my heart just as she is sharing hers.

connect with your child

how to hug

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