The doorknob hits my hip as I stand there, still groggy, toothbrush in hand. “Mommy, can you make room for me?”
I scoot over, pulling my robe closer around my body as she walks in and hugs my waist. “Good morning Boogie. Did you sleep okay?”
“Yeah, I slept pretty good.” Her drowsy little voice catches my attention as I realize she is really growing up. I take this morning bathroom routine for granted so often. Her big eyes staring up at me as I dry my hair or put my makeup on. Not just the mornings, but all of it. Her warm, cuddly, over-the-top, excited hugs when I come home from work. Her desire to be right next to me no matter what I am doing.
I remember when Jay was like that. When he wanted to be a part of everything I did and followed me around all day. I don’t remember that last time though. I don’t remember the day that he stopped asking me to make room for him. I don’t remember when the kisses goodbye in the morning stopped and I started getting a quick wave and a signed “I love you”.
I know all too soon, Jaylah will follow in his footsteps and will be too old to want to do this. Sleeping in will become more important than watching me put myself together in the mornings. The excited hugs will become “Hey Mom” with a quick kiss on the cheek. Technology will take the place of her desire to follow me around.
“Mommy, can you make room for me?”
Oh, my dear children, I will always make room for you.
But how often, in everyday life, do I come through on that promise?
How often do they ask, “Mommy, can we play a game?”
“Mommy, if I tell you this, can you not get upset?”
“Mommy, can you snuggle with me?”
“Mommy, did you hear me?”
How often do I choose dishes, or laundry, or my to-do list when they want to play?
How often do I choose to make room in my heart to hear them out, even if I am upset?
How often do I say “I would love to, baby, but I have to…?” instead of a simple “yes”.
How often do I “listen” with distracted ears and eyes, not really paying attention to something they find so important?
Too much. Far too often.
I love to be busy, love to be productive, enjoy feeling like I am making a difference.
And sometimes that means I neglect time for play.
Sometimes my impatience overpowers my compassion.
So often, I want me-time at night and I allow that to determine how long I lay there, or how much talk time they get before bed.
Technology distracts me far more than I care to admit, pushing out room for heartfelt, genuine conversations.
Sometimes I look at all the missed opportunities that I will never get back and my heart breaks.
Times when I could have made him feel important, but I was on the phone.
Times I could have made her feel valued, but I was too busy.
Times I should have answered “Yes, baby, I will make room for you.”
I know that we are all busy. We live in a fast-paced world with to-do lists that are longer than our days, or sometimes even our weeks. Long days can be hard. Messes get repetitive and frustrating. Work and school and volunteering and getting everything done seems so critical. Everything seems urgent.
But one day its over. One day it is the last time they ask for a story before bed. One day is the last time they try to barge in the bathroom so they have a captive audience while I am in the shower. One day, they stop wanting a kiss goodbye or a giant hug hello. One day, games with mom aren’t cool anymore and time spent at friends’ houses looms far more important than time spent at home. One day, they know that sharpie bleeds through paper and they don’t make that mistake again. One day they just grow up.
And you never know what moment will be the last time.
I don’t want the last time they ask me for a story to be a time I turned them down. I don’t want the last Eskimo kiss to be distracted and impersonal. I don’t want them to feel like the things they share with me are less important than my phone or my show on television.
I want these to be moments where I can show a little extra compassion or a little extra love. I want to give them MORE hugs than they request, more listening than they desire.
I want to snuggle them, and hold them, and kiss them more than they could ever want.
I want them to know that they are so important, so valuable, and so loved that there is nothing more urgent, no busywork more important than what they are going through right now.
I want them to know that I support them. I want them to know I am here for them. Fully alive. Fully present. In this very moment.
My kids are growing up. Jay said the other day that he is “halfway to being an adult.” Jaylah started school this year. It goes by faster than I ever thought possible.
It isn’t long before clubs and sports and friends and homework are the priorities… and I hope in those moments, the moments when I ask “Hey, can we talk for a sec?” that the response is “Yes Mom, I can make room for you.”