I learnt a valuable lesson on Saturday. One of the challenges I have found in becoming a mum of two is making sure my attention appears fairly distributed. Obviously, as a six-month-old, Awena requires more of my immediate attention; she needs to be fed, dressed, have her happy changed, be carried to get from A to B, things that Poppi, as a five-year-old is capable of doing by herself. However, the emotional needs of both, I am tempted to say, are equally required. I am not basing that statement on any research, only from my own experience and understanding of child development.
From Awena’s point of view, she needs to know she is loved by me in the way I respond to her cries with cuddles and reassurance as well as meeting her physical needs. For Poppi, she needs to know she is loved by me in the way I respond to her requests as well as meeting her physical needs. Awena’s naturally takes more of my time, but that doesn’t mean Poppi needs it any less. To try and manage this division of my attention I have tried to put special time aside in the form of a date with Poppi. This time is to be uninterrupted and just for her and me. A good friend and mentor, role modelled this to Daf and me when we were at university. He was a busy consultant in London, living in Canterbury, with four children. He would take it in turns to give to each. (Daf and I were lucky enough once to gate crash one of these dates with a trip to the Royal Albert Hall to see Handel’s Messiah!!!!!) On Saturday Poppi and I had our third date. We were both looking forward to it as we’d been planning it for a while and the two previous dates had gone well. We had decided to make a set of family stockings in time for Christmas. Poppi loves Christmas (that may be a silly and obvious thing to say) but she also loves gifts so combining the two seemed like a fun idea.
Back in September Poppi and I had gone for a walk, flask and picnic blanket in the bag picked up a pain au Chocolat and headed into the park for a munch and a chat. A lovely combination of our love languages…gifts and time. Plus the stress-relieving factor that being out of the house can carry with it. In October we set out on a treasure (scavenger) hunt and collected a series of items together. Poppi chatted away happily all the way around. Both dates were lovely. What better to follow these than hiding away with the sewing machine, sequins and Christmassy material whilst the rain hammered down outside?
Well, it kinda backfired. A date is about the process, not the final product. However, the process was a bit tricky for Poppi and ended up with her hanging around quite a bit. She happily sewed the stockings together but prior to that wanted to decorate hers and Awena’s with all sorts of fiddly sequins. This meant I had to do a lot of the work and needed to concentrate on the product and not the chats with Poppi. We left the date with me feeling disgruntled, sequins ALL over the floor, frustration that the morning hadn’t gone to plan and only one nearly finished stocking. As I reflected on this I had my overwhelming sense of mum guilt that I hadn’t been there for Poppi as a date should allow and I hadn’t supported her emotionally by giving her my time and undivided attention. Poppi loves creating but in the future I must remember that the date is about the time and investment in her and not what we produce at the end.
I mustn’t allow this to put me off, but instead, learn what it really means to give to someone else. Life is busy and these moments are precious. Let’s try not to get too caught up in the destination but enjoy the ride as we journey along with it.