How My Daughter Slipped Under My Mommy Radar

Sometimes the simplest moments in life are also the most profound – the sort of moments that cause us to sit up straight and take notice, lifting the veil of mindlessness from our eyes.

As is true for many of us, several things simultaneously compete for my attention and time: two- year-old, twelve-year-old, husband, family, work, chores, friends, exercise, volunteering, etc.

A champagne problem, indeed, I am grateful for it all, but nevertheless can feel overwhelmed at times by the sheer volume of it.

One of countless selfies

One of countless selfies

This has been especially true since my little guy arrived, as he requires so much of our energy at his age. A funny, energetic boy full of joy, he easily draws us in, commanding the room with his engaging toddlerisms (see previous posts).

My daughter adores him and, despite her first ten years of life as our family’s only child, has only on rare occasions complained about his existence.  For better or worse, he is the squeaky wheel, the proverbial kid in the class whose hand shoots up straight in the air when a question is asked.  Oooh, oooh!  Pick me!  Pick me!

Yes, my love, you have my attention… and my time.

One recent weekend afternoon I was slowed down with a cold, my son was napping, and my daughter and I sat outside on the patio and chatted.  I was too exhausted for chores or tossing the ball, so we simply sat, our full attention on one another, uncharacteristically free of distraction.

As we talked, I looked into her eyes, struck by the once-familiar brilliance of the green, blue, and gold kaleidoscope pattern found there. My breath caught in my throat.  I was both amazed and horrified that I had forgotten their exquisiteness.

And in that moment, I recognized just how unmindfully I had been communicating with her – not really seeing her, usually with partial attention, often in the middle of another mundane household task.  I felt sad, yet grateful, with the realization that my lovable twelve-year old had taken a back seat to far too many insignificant preoccupations.

I had gradually fallen into a habit of placing her toward the bottom of my potentially endless list – certainly not in terms of importance or love, but rather in regards to when she would receive my full attention: after the diaper was changed, the dog was fed, the work emails returned.  At the end of each long day, once the little guy was in bed and we finally had uninterrupted time together, little energy remained for my sweet, tolerant girl.

Just as the quiet, compliant student is often overlooked in the classroom, so had my little girl silently and inadvertently slipped under my Mommy Radar.

So, with more than a hint of guilt and humility, I made a silent promise to both her and myself- that I will do my best to look into those beloved eyes with more frequency and more awareness. 

At times I still need to force myself to stop the doing in the midst of the list, to go to her and connect.  Rather than give her half of my attention while cleaning up the kitchen, remember to sit down, look into those beautiful eyes and hear about all of the magnificent, insightful goings-on behind them.

Just as easy as it is to fall off-course, it is also just as easy to adopt one simple, deliberate, Mindful change to correct direction. For me, it has made such a remarkable difference, placing my daughter back in her rightful position at the top of my list, flying well within the parameters of my Mommy Radar.  I fear what I might have missed. I am grateful for the opportunity to continually refocus my lens of attention.

My wish for us all is this: Look into their eyes.  Take a breath.  Drink it in.  Savor what really matters. See how one small Mindful change can potentially transform an ordinary moment into one that feels remarkable.