I lerv my Babies…all four of them. Those of you who have Babies of your own understand that you grow with them. My father used to say, “Children should be seen and not heard”. This was a hurtful way for my sister and me to grow up and I certainly did not take this stance with my own children.
When my eldest was born, I realized that she was not similar to me at all: she was full of energy, spent hours playing alone, and she had NO problem whatsoever talking to complete strangers. It was frustrating at times, not understanding this little human that I was responsible for. Over the years, my daughter and I have come to appreciate the differences we see in each other, but it wasn’t easy getting there.
When my next three children were born, it was a wonder to me that all of them have different personalities. Same mom and dad = children with similar personalities, right? WRONG!!! Each of my children has a totally different personality from the other. Instead of bending them to my own will and expectations, I have tried to appreciate who they are at that moment in time. I don’t mean to say we don’t discipline the children, but even an instance that warranted punishment would give me pause to ask: Why did you do this? What were you thinking? What was your thought process? I wasn’t trying to be a sarcastic/angry parent asking “What were you thinking??!!”. Rather, I was truly trying to understand how their thought processes would lead them to do something that I would not consider doing myself.
Although I love the times that we share as a family, I learned over the years that if I really want to get to know my kids, I have to spend one-on-one time with them. I found the best way to achieve this is to leave the house and go on a date. My Nerd Herd, as hubby and I affectionately call them, are currently aged 22, 15, 11, and 9. And boy, are they fun! That’s part of the beauty of being different. I take them to a restaurant of their choice and a place they’d like to go, like a craft store or the current favorite: a used-book store. While we’re on our date, I’ll ask open-ended questions like: What are you thinking about right now? What do you think you’ll want to learn about when you’re at college? I also use this time to ask about a situation that I’ve witnessed, but didn’t address before, such has: How did you feel when _____ said, “_____”?
In order for me to ask them intelligent questions, I have to really tune-in to who they are. It has been a blessing for me to grow up with my kids. They’ve been patient with me as much as I have been patient with them. Sure, it’s not always a unicorn-fantasy in our house, but we have worked hard to understand each other. When I start feeling disconnected from my kids, I look at my budget and start planning dates.
When you feel a little lost with your baby–no matter how old they are!– consider going on a date to reconnect. You’ll have to pick up the tab, but your date will make it well worth it 🙂
CJ Heath loves taking her kids on dates. In fact, she’s heading to an Asian restaurant and used-book store now with the baby of the family. She can’t wait!