I'm Learning How To Drop Everything Else And Just Linger While My Children Play

by Carlen Cooper

Like many moms, we are almost always on the go.

Last year, I faced big challenges and stress and have been recovering after making some life-changing compromises.

I often encourage my kids to go do something or they find something to do on their own and become occupied so that I can go accomplish a task, or 10.

Time passes and I’m cramming things in while they are off entertaining themselves.

Yes, I’m quite proud of the fact that they can be resourceful and come up with activities on their own.

Yes, I’m glad they are somewhat self-reliant and can problem-solve and carry on with a project on their own.

Yes, I’m thrilled that they can be content with the simplicity of our home and spend hours creating, crafting, make-believing, and don’t need a Disney-esque house or backyard to explore.

But you know what I find myself doing that I am not proud, or glad, or thrilled about?

Dropping and running.

Sending them off.

Setting up and dashing away.

So recently, I have started to change that.

(Confession time: You guys, this is hard! I am the person who blocks out chunks of time just so I can power through with high productivity and attempt to “do it all” even if I know I can’t. Changing that is not my nature!)

Making this change has literally shocked them — in a nice surprising kind of way.

Wanna know what I make it a point to do more of now?

I linger.

I don’t run to get my 10 tasks accomplished in a mad efficiency-driven frenzy, hopefully uninterrupted.

I watch them navigate through their choices and begin an activity.

Then I just stay.

Their initial reaction is “Uh, aren’t you gonna go be busy now?” “What are you still doing here?” “Wait…are you just paying attention to me?”

Engagement and play is important.

But do you ever think that our children may just need our wholehearted presence?

Not the helicopter-mom type. That’s not what I mean.

Just the I am here, I am glad you are you, I love being here more than anything else in the world right now type.

When I linger, they know this.

Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, my lingering is a gift to me, not just them.

When I linger, I am available emotionally and physically. Unconditionally.

It does not require me to do anything, in fact it requires me to do exactly nothing.

Nothing else on my list. Just linger.

Nothing in my hand, nothing on my lap, nothing on my mind.

I occasionally get a glance and a wink from the oldest. And the little one brings me a Lego head, smiles, and goes back to play.

Their eyes are full of wonder, their mannerisms, their little quirks, it all changes so quickly. Look into their eyes. Revel in those fleeting moments.

I am not hurrying off to do more important work…

I am lingering.