Tuesday, February 8, 2011

He just wants attention.

The typical weekday morning routine in our house goes something like this:

Alarm clock goes off. Mommy gets in shower while Daddy gets dressed and packs diaper bag.

Mommy gets out of shower right around time Daddy is about to head downstairs to wake up baby.

Mommy gets dressed while Daddy dresses baby and makes everyone breakfast.

Mommy comes downstairs to fix hair and make-up while boys eat breakfast. Mommy chats and is generally silly with baby during this time.

Everyone heads to their cars (Mommy takes breakfast with her). Mommy kisses Daddy and baby good-bye and they head to daycare while Mommy heads to work. (A favorite morning game of my son's is to initiate a little rehearsed call-and-response while Daddy straps him into his carseat. He says, "Mom-my!" and I reply "Bay-bee!" in the exact same tone. He will do this indefinitely.)

So, for the little bit of time I get to interact with my son in the morning, he is either underfoot while I put on eyeliner, or stuck in a high chair while I buzz around the living room trying to find my id badge. We chatter at each other a lot, but there simply is too much to do to have any real, physical, quality time.

This morning, he was sitting in his high chair eating some fruit, and I was in front of the mirror with my back to him, putting on make-up. He started to cough pretty badly, scaring my husband and I. He sounded like he was almost crying, too.

I ran over to him. "Oh baby, what's wrong? Are you okay?" And the little monkey started giggling, and blew a raspberry at me. Then, grinning, he yelled "Mom-my!"

"Bay-bee!" I replied, and called to my husband to assure him, "He's fine; he just wanted attention."

Later, during my commute to work, I thought about how casually I use that phrase in reference to my son. "He just wants attention." Like his need for my attention is so trivial, and easily dismissed.

Why shouldn't he want my attention? I'm his mommy, and he's not even two. Looking around, it amazes me how often even really good parents treat their children as inconveniences. Instead of being flattered when our kid wants us to crawl under a blanket fort with him, or give another horsey ride, shoves yet another scribbled crayon drawing in our face for approval, we're exasperated. "Honey, can you play on your own for a minute? Mommy just got home."

I'm certainly guilty of this. Usually, my husband is the one to take my son to preschool and pick him up, so he goes for longer stretches without seeing me. So when I get home from work, he wants my immediate and constant attention. He wants repeated readings of the same books, games of hide-and-seek, and puppet shows with stuffed animals. And sometimes, I just want a minute or two to change out of my work clothes, and check my e-mails.

But he's gotta be the #1 priority. As a working mom, I don't get enough time with him as it is. Toddlers go to bed so early, the time in the evenings I get with him is so short. And we're so involved with church and family on the weekends, those two days fly by, too.

And he's growing up so quickly. Before long, he won't want to sit in Mommy's lap for a story anymore, and he'll think she's an idiot when she gives his stuffed animals voices. So for the time being, he's entitled to as much attention as he wants from me. Afer all, what's going to be hurt if I check Facebook updates at 8:00 instead of 5:00?

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