We have all been there. The morning time hustle.
“Quick, finish your breakfast!”
“Hurry and get your clothes on.”
“We’re late! Quickly get your shoes on!”
Then you turn around and find your kid just sitting there. Coloring.
“I don’t want to put my shoes on!” your child whines back to you.
And the heated battle of the wills commences. It ends with either one or both of you crying, disheveled, and an exclamation of, “Why does this have to be so hard?”
I was that mom this day.
I was up too late the night before. My alarm went off, but I slept right through it. I was feeling flustered and definitely not in a calm head space. I just wanted us to eat, get dressed and Get. In. The. Car. I had repeated myself a jillion times, “Get your shoes on,” only to get to the door to see my 4 year old daughter without her shoes on.
“Esther, you don’t have your shoes on,” I stated.
She spoke four simple words: “Mama, I need help!”
I stood there.
I could have said, “You don’t need help, you do this every day.”
I could have reacted in frustration with, “Just get your shoes and put them on in the car!”
But I stopped. I took a breath to help regulate myself, and replied, “You seem to really want my help today. Can you tell me why?”
Her eyes filled, and her words spilled out, “You didn’t say ‘good morning’ to me!”
Ah. In my hustle to get us moving this morning, I had missed the opportunity to connect with her. I knew that what she was asking for wasn’t help to get her shoes on. She is quite capable of that task. She was asking for me.
It was that simple.
She needed me to stop the rush. To take a breath. It seems like two very unrelated things but really, she was looking for a way to gain my attention. And not intentionally in a negative way. Just a way for me to gain focus of her. In the mad dash of it all, I had forgotten that her call for help wasn’t about the shoes. She just needed me. Unhurried. Fully Focused. Taking the time to connect with a simple morning greeting.
No, this wasn’t about the shoes. It more of a call for just me being there with her. So, I helped her put on her shoes.
It would have been easier for me if she just did it on her own.
It would have been easier for me if I could have finished a task that could help us get out the door more quickly.
Sure, it would have been easier for me. But was that what I wanted in our relationship? Did I simply want to disregard what she needed so that I could just get us in the car? Or did I want her to feel safe enough to tell me deep down what the actual problem was that kept us in our state of disengagement?
That morning we did not arrive on time to our destination.
I took the time to do our morning connection rituals with both of my daughters. I stopped hurrying us about and took the time to admire their choices of clothing. And by the time we got into the car, we were back to being our calm selves and plugged into one another. We arrived, late, yet in time with one another.