Wednesday, October 08, 2008

My Gift

The holidays are fast approaching and with them the inevitable stream of toys that will make their way into my house. They will threaten to overtake the living room and will overflow out of the childrens' rooms. I know this because it happens every year. Now we have 2 more children which just means more toys.

Of course I'll be giving the kids a few, select toys while I attempt to purge what we already have. Our church has a great yard sale twice a year and I can donate things to them. But this post isn't about toys-that will be later this week. Instead, I'm thinking about the gift I give my children all year.

What is the best gift I can give to them? The thing that they crave most and that they actually need? It's me.

You know the poem called "Babies Don't Keep?" Here it is if you're not familiar:

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth
empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
hang out the washing and butter the bread,

sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?

She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due

(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew

and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?

(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,

for children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.

So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.

I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

That poem is a reminder to me of what is really important. Will it matter in 20 years if my house was spotless? I'm sure my kids prefer that it not be spotless actually. They love a good mess! What matters-now and 20 years from now-is that my children had me.

I am definitely completely guilty of letting my children watch too much tv lately. I sometimes tell them "wait a second" and leave them waiting for many minutes. I sometimes have my hands full (of laundry, babies, dishes, etc) and can't scoop them up or satisfy their needs as quickly as I'd like. But I do strive to be there for each of them.

I actually wrote an article for Attachment Parenting International (API) that was published a few months ago. I discussed the challenges of APing multiples. Interestingly enough, I found out I was having another set of twins just before the article was printed.

Attachment Parenting is based around one basic goal-meeting the needs of your child. This means being present when your child needs you. As a mother I know this means anytime, day or night. And it's even harder when there are 2 or more little people who need your attention at the same time.

So here are the 3 main things that I do that help me be a better parent and to be there for my kids:

* Cosleeping- This has been a life saver for our family. I get more sleep, the babies' needs are met faster, and generally everyone benefits. I love being able to roll over, feed a baby, and go back to sleep. Sure, I'm still sleep-deprived but it would be worse if I had to get out of bed at night. (Trust me, I got up more at night when I was pregnant!)

* Breastfeeding- This is another life saver for us. (It's also a money saver but that is another story!) When a baby cries I nurse them and peace is restored. Love it.

* Babywearing- Carrying a baby (or two) while still having my hands free to chase after toddlers? It can't get much better than that.

I've found that most of the times when my kids act out they are just craving my attention. And how do you divide your attention among 2 infants, 2 toddlers, a sensitive 4-year old and a 5-yo on the autism spectrum? Well, it ain't easy. But generally I manage.

It's typically something like this... In the morning the babies nurse and I change them before the other kids are up. Then I nurse the girls and change them. Everybody eats breakfast and the babies usually nap. The boys start their school work or play outside and I let the girls watch a short movie. The babies are up again so I nurse them on the couch with the girls. Then I make lunch and the girls take a nap. While the girls and babies are asleep I devote my full attention to the boys.

So while my children may not have my undivided attention, I definitely try to be there for them. I want them to be secure in knowing that I will always be there for them. Life is a little chaotic here but we take it day by day. I spend my entire day caring for the kids, playing with them, or teaching them. It's how I give my children my presence.

This post is part of API's Blog Carnival celebrating Attachment Parenting Month.

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