This year, I set myself 22 little goals to pursue throughout the year. I call them the 22 in 22. They may all seem a bit random, but they were important to me at the time I made my New Year’s Resolution. Each Saturday, I take a few minutes to check my progress on a few of my goals.
#2 Do the heart work necessary for my marriage
I am so grateful for my indulgent husband. These are words that are relatively easy to type, but not so easy to articulate to the man they honor.
There are times of the year that are more difficult for everyone in their work, and this time of the year is, along with a spell in the month of February which is always a challenge, the one that is the most complicated for him. Papers to grade, chapters to complete, students with Senioritis who, year over year, become more insolent and disinterested.
Unfortunately, he’s going through all that at school, and then he comes home to one little boy screaming and the other one crying…as if on cue. As if they knew he was about to walk in the door, so one hits the other one, even though they had, up until that very minute, been playing well together.
I suddenly understand those 1950s housewives’ manuals, in which they urge the woman to tidy up before her husband gets home and to make sure the children are silent. Not that my husband expects this. But I suspect he would have appreciated a more peaceful arrival at home this week.
He definitely deserves better than what he has been getting lately, and while I have made some efforts to make the transition more smooth for him, it hasn’t been working–if anything, my efforts have backfired due to a lack of cooperation from my littlest partners. I need to work on this.
#1 Connect better with the scalawags, according to their Love Languages
I caught a briefest piece of a talk about children who act out, and it had to do with the child feeling “ungrounded”. I was intrigued because both of my boys act out sometimes, and it can happen at the most random, inopportune times (see above!)
It sounded all a little hippy-dippy to me, but I listened anyway. The lady said that in order to “ground” them, we needed to connect with them.
As if I didn’t know this already. But I needed the reminder. When I actually take the time–and make the concerted effort–to connect rather than scold, the problem goes away much, much faster.
This has brought me to a topic of self-reflection which has bothered me to the core about my natural tendency to avoid connection. Connecting with them sometimes feels like the most unnatural thing in the world, and that is my problem, not theirs. I go into “zombie” mode.
Getting out of “zombie mood” and actually connecting with them could head-off some of these outbursts and squabbles. If I could just become someone else, someone who knows how to connect, who enjoys connection…that would be incredibly helpful.
#22 Learn something fascinating about psychology every week
In a 2018 study in Chile, moments of parental interaction with a child were determined to be critical to the child’s emotional and intellectual development. I know this sounds kind of obvious, but this study was able to quantify it…more moments of shared attention, greater development.
One of the factors that was measured was how many times, over the course of an interaction, both mother and baby paid attention to the same thing. This is definitely quantifiable.
Another factor was called “maternal sensitivity”. And, yes it is exactly what it sounds like: how reactive the mother in the mother-baby pair was to the interests and needs of her child. Don’t ask me how you put a number on that. But they did.
I just know that this spoke to me on the subject of connecting with my boys. How little effort does it take to join my little ones and pay attention to the thing that has their attention? Not me trying to get their attention. Rather, me, joining them in what they are doing. And doing this intentionally, so as to create more measurable moments of loving interaction.
As terrifying as it seems, these boys will learn to love from me. And I am not always good at this. But oddly enough, knowing that “moments of love” can be quantified, it helps make it feel more doable to me.
Here’s a link to an abstract about this study.