March 29, 2014

Watching Me

One day I took the kids to the park. It was a nice day; the sun felt amazing on our bodies that had been hibernating inside for so long. The park was empty. Well technically, I had driven around in search of a park where no one was playing. The kids and I were enjoying ourselves; I was engrossed in their laughter. We ran up and down slides; we hid under ladders, and we reached our toes up to the sky on the swings. Everyone was happy. 

Tytus, who had been sleeping in his car seat by the bench, began to stir. I ran over and got him out of his chair. His grin was as bright as the sun; it reached from one ear to the other. He looked like a little man. His wide eyes looked like they were about to pop out of his head. He loved being outside and looking around at all the colors.
I knew he had to be starving, so I grabbed his bottle out of my bag and began to feed it to him. As he was drinking his milk, a car pulled up and a father and his two kids began walking toward the playground. I was sad that our solitude had been compromised, but I was also excited because the little girl walking over to the playground looked about the same age as Kaleeya.

The new kids and mine all began to play together. All I could hear was laughter; all I could see was light. I whispered quiet messages to Tytus as he continued to suck with all of his might. Soon, Kaleeya was walking towards me. She seemed a little frazzled. She plunked down on the seat, almost on top of me, and grabbed onto my arm.

I looked down at her tiny hand. It was so small, but her grip on my arm was very tight. I moved my gaze up to her eyes, "Monkey, hey! Are you having fun? Isn't this a perfect day in the sun?" She looked out over the playground silently, then back up at me. "Mom, I don't have a dad anymore."

The lump in my throat found its usual spot. I looked out at the father who was now pushing his son on the swing. I squeezed her hand a few times, still contemplating exactly what to say. "Baby, I can't imagine how badly that hurts."  A tear formed in her eye and began its journey down her cheek. "Mom, I miss him, does he miss us? Did he want to leave?"

Questions I had asked myself, all of the sudden had a voice in a wise little girl. "Kaleeya, I am sure he misses us more than we will ever know. He didn't want to leave YOU. He didn't deserve to be taken from YOU. I am sorry that it is so hard, it is not fair. I am here for you. I love you. I am right here watching you."

Her little lips reached up and kissed mine. "You are right here, Mommy, and you are watching me!"

She had nothing more to say about it. I thought she might talk about the little girl who had a dad there watching her. She didn't. It seemed our conversation was going to go on, but that was all she said. She didn't even take another minute to wallow in her pain the way my heart wanted to. After my kiss, she was off playing again.

I didn't take my eyes off of her. I loved seeing her walk on her tiptoes, like she always had since the moment she took her first step. It was like she was born to be a dancer. Her calves were so buff. I loved seeing the little dimples in her cheeks every time she spoke. She had a natural beauty that captivated me. Her stunning beauty on the outside was rare, but the sincere sweetness inside of her was one in a million.

That night as I was tucking each child in their beds I asked them what their favorite part of the day was. When I got to Kaleeya's room, her answer was as tender as the sweet kiss she had given me at the park, "My favorite part of the day was . . . watching you . . . watching me!"

She didn't care about the slides; she didn't talk about the ice cream cone that we bought on the way home from the park . . . all she remembered was that . . . I was watching.

We only have this one chance; they will only be tiny for a blink of an eye. They are waiting for us to see them; they are pleading for us to notice. Their needs can be daunting and sometimes overwhelming. At times they cling, they are always underfoot; they ask a million questions, or repeat the same thing over and over.

Is it annoying . . . or is it because all they care about is for us to see them?

I wish that every day I did everything right; I wish I had never yelled or lost my temper with my children. Looking back it is easy to see how simple my problems seem; but in the moment, those problems feel so overwhelmingly powerful. I hate that I have gotten frustrated when my child has wet the bed, or mad when they spill their cereal all over themselves and the floor. Are they really doing these things to bug me? Do they spit up all over my new shoes to make me mad?

If it is not intentional maybe I can use these moments to make a difference in their lives. Cleaning up pee in a bed, though it is not a fun job at three a.m. , can be a perfect opportunity for me to remind my sleepy child how much they mean to me and how thankful I am to have them in my life. Wiping up milk from all over the floor, takes a bit of effort and scrubbing, but is it really the end of the world? These seemingly daunting, momentary jobs that are so hard and frustrating . . . maybe they aren't moments for us to teach our kids how to be more responsible and independent . . .  maybe they are meant to be little reminders for us to slow down and pay attention. What if these little mishaps our children have endlessly, are really just our test to see if we can stay spiritually and emotionally centered on what is really important? Maybe God sends us children, not only to bless us, but to test us and give us opportunities to show Him that we can sacrifice for these stewardships that he has blessed us to be over.

When things get hard, or days get long, it is easy to look for anything to be frustrated with. Fingerprints all over my freshly cleaned windows; footprints in the carpet; boogers all over my clean clothes as I am walking out the door; toothpaste squeezed in the bathroom sink; whining; complaining; demanding; and poop all over the floor. Laundry is never complete and dishes are not always done.

As parents we do a lot of dirty work, and it gets easy to forget the simpleness of childhood. On those days when it feels like all you have done is paid bills, folded laundry, and cleaned more food off of the floor than actually made it into their mouths . . . don't forget to watch. Maybe we should stop watching for the messes and crankiness that overwhelms . . . and more for the simple love they have for life.

Milk is going to spill; beds are going to get wet; vases are going to get shattered by footballs; and crayons are going to be in pockets in the washing machine. Why can't we just expect it, and show our kids that they are what really matters? Laundry can be rewashed, and windows can be replaced. There still must be consequences for actions, but can't we teach them their consequence with love?

(Kaleeya's blessing day)

 It would do us good to watch . . . and do. Jesus taught that we need to become as a little child: submissive, humble, patient, and full of love. It is easy to miss the subtle perfections that are sent our way. Hearts can be heavy; our thoughts can weigh us down. Watch for the little eyes who are searching for yours . . . and don't let your heavy mind talk you into missing the perfect smiles that are waiting for your reassuring kisses.

They are miraculous. Cherish the children in your life. Emulate their childlike attributes that allow them to be carefree and enjoy every minute . . . even when it is hard. The park is not always going to be empty, the sun is not always going to shine, the children are not always going to laugh . . .  but when those perfect moments come . . . watch.


27 comments:

Erin said...

Thank you for this beautifully written post, I so needed this!!!

Kacey said...

Thank you for this post, it was something that i have been needing to be reminded of. I Iove reading your blog and being reminded of what is most important in life.

Luci Rojas said...

I wish it could be in Spanish to share it with some friends and family. Thank you for such powerful lessons every week. Seriously.

Molly said...

Thank you! I have been struggling with being a good mom. I love your blog. Your an amazing woman and your testimony is so wonderful. Thank you for letting us into your life. It has helped me so much.

Molly said...

Thank you! I have been struggling with being a good mom. I love your blog. Your an amazing woman and your testimony is so wonderful. Thank you for letting us into your life. It has helped me so much.

Mr. Thompson and Me said...

Oooh... I love this one. Thank goodness you picked up that computer and are letting your voice be heard.

It is a truly beautiful voice!

Anonymous said...

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. I try so hard to be a good mom, but there is always room for improvement... Sometimes more room than I can ever hope to fill. Thank goodness for our Savior who will make up the difference when I fall short, even after my best efforts.

grammapapa said...

Best advice ever.

Lisa said...

Beautiful. What a great reminder. I knew when my children's father chose to walk away from the Gospel and our family- my children would hurt the most. I remember crying and praying for my children. I told Heavenly Father that I didn't choose this for my children. I didn't want them to have to suffer such insecurity and feeling they weren't "important enough." I knew I couldn't fully fill the void for them. They would come home with tears in their eyes as they handed me a "Daddy-Daughter" invitation. I would say something similar to what you told your daughter- "I'm sorry. It's not fair. I'm sorry you are hurting. I love you..." and I hug and squeeze them with all the love inside my broken heart. More than anything children just want to feel loved. They want to know we are watching them and notice them and that they matter to us. I wondered how my kids could grow up with confidence when they were suffering so much rejection. I sat in Stake Conference and one of the counselors spoke about spring cleaning and how he found the box of scriptures in the closet that his family used every morning for scripture study. He thought to himself, "How can I get rid of these? This is what raised my children." In that moment I knew that if I could let Heavenly Father raise my children- they would not only be okay, they would thrive! I've been trying to remember that. Thank you Ashlee. You are a wonderful mother. Have a great weekend with your family. :)

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said Ashlee.

Anonymous said...

well said

akwoman said...

My children are all grown now, some having little ones of their own. Your advice is so valuable, the things we will regret are the times we didn't notice, didn't listen or worried about those dishes or the laundry. Those things will be there later, the little ones will be gone someday. I love that you are not living your life full of regrets, for the time your children need. It must be incredibly draining at times, and I am sure easy to shun one off your leg.......but you already know better. Bless you and your family.

Unknown said...

AuntSue
As I look back on the times of raising 6 children, these are the things I wish I had spent more time doing. You say so well what is in my heart. But I am trying very hard to spend the time with my grandchildren with joy.

Neal and Shannon Jenks said...

Such a simple and beautiful post. Thank you Ashlee.

Cindy Tuaileva said...

You are amazing. Thank you for sharing all your burdens, trials and thoughts with us. It truly inspires us. You have a beautiful family and your are in my prayers.

Melissa said...

Truly an important lesson thank you! And that little girl sure looks a lot like her daddy. :)

Michelle said...

I needed to read this today. Thank you!

Sorensen Home Base said...

As a mom whose children are grown and gone, all I want to say is "Amen".

Anonymous said...

SO POWERFUL. GRATEFUL FOR THIS MESSAGE. MUST SHARE. MAY GOD BLESS YOU & HOLD YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN. AMEN

Carolyn Siemers said...

Thank you for posting. This is such a beautiful message!

Callister said...

Yet another wonderful post that I needed this week. Thank you so much for your words that remind and encourage. May God bless you always.

Chelsea Johnson said...

Just what I needed to hear!

cheryl said...

I so needed this today. You are amazing and your blog is a tremendous blessing to me!

jen said...

I love this post. Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

Wise advice! Our oldest is 28, and we don't regret a day of enjoying the small things and sacrificing for each child. This leads to kindness, wisdom and love. You're on the right track! Don't let anyone tell you differently!

Keesha n David Brown said...

This is something I am trying so hard to improve upon. It really is so easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated, which distracts me from focusing on what is most important: that my children know that I love them and am always there for them. Thank you so much for this beautiful reminder!

Nicole M. Hutchison said...

This is a beautifully written post, thank you for sharing! I can't imagine NOT being our little guy's momma, but I'm sure glad God made it that way. He has blessed our life more than we could have ever imagined and yes, there are nights I lay awake in bed and watch him sleep on the monitor screen. And, yes, there are times when I've kissed his fingers or cheeks on said monitor screen too. I'm his momma, I can do it!

Blessings to your family from ours,
Nicole @ Three 31
http://nicoleandkevin.wordpress.com/about-me/

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