As we sit on the painted step stool he once needed to brush his teeth, I clutch his large body. Tears sweep down his freckled cheeks and his blood shot eyes stare into mine with such sadness.
I wrap my tired arms around his long, almost seven year old legs, as we rest together in the bathroom. I nearly begin to cry as I realize my baby is growing up too fast for me. We continue to rock back and forth in this awkward fashion, trying to find the sweet spot of comfort and rest.
My mind swirls with the facts of life for my sweet son. He craves independence, but also wants to be my baby. I always feel like we can’t sync up. When I have time to cuddle him, he is busy and when he wants to cuddle, we get interrupted by one of his brothers’ needs. It’s a terrible cycle that I’m always trying to divert.
Finding time alone with him proves to be harder and harder. We do homework together, but usually it’s interrupted by the baby or his brother’s in home therapy. Always aware of his need to connect with me on his own, I constantly search for moments with him. We talk in the car and pray together to and from school. We have our moments every day, but it hardly feels like enough.
As I sit here and hold him, I realize this is another one of those moments I can add to our relationship. With genuine empathy, I look into his snappy brown eyes and gently say: “I know it’s hard to be 6…almost 7.”
His grip lets loose of my body. He sits up and begins to cry through the words: “It is so hard growing up.” My heart sinks to the floor, but I muster up all of my composure to be here in this moment for him, for my son.
We talk for awhile about him wanting to still be Mommy’s little boy, but also wanting to grow up. He shares his struggles and frustrations, mostly with his brothers and seeking independence but still needing his parents. I validate some of his problems and help him work to a solution. Other times, I show him through examples that his concern aren’t as major as he thinks.
I listen to every word and actually understand. My husband, who is lingering at the door, finally chimes in. The three of us share possible solutions that are tangible for my sweet, growing boy.
My son felt heard and understood. I was blessed with a sneak peak into his young, bright mind. We ended our conversation with a commitment to work together to make life easier on everyone.
These are some of the moments that will help define my son and our relationship.
If we stop to look at life from our children’s point of view, our reactions will be much different. Being a kid can be hard and it’s our job as parents to help our children navigate through life.
I believe if you get down on your child’s level and actually listen to and validate their frustrations, as menial as they seem, you will gain a new, open relationship while allowing your child to express themselves and feel heard.
Shelly Senerchia is a God-fearing, hardworking wife, and mom to 4 very active, young boys. She shares all things boys, parenting, marriage, adventure, and special needs on her blog Snips, Snails, and Puppy Tails. Connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.