by Susan L. Marshall
“Mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy!”
“Mommy, I need you.”
I had heard it seven million times that morning. My three-year-old was going through his “clingy stage:” “Please, God, let this be a stage,” I’d said, shaking my head alternately to the ceiling and floor.
“Nick,” I said as calmly as possible, “What is it that you need?”
“I need your intention!”
I knew what he meant. It’s one of those few mixed up words you don’t correct because you know how sad you’ll be when it all straigtens itself out. He needed my attention and, needless to say, he got it.
But he also got me thinking. What is my intention? I thought about it for days. I stood outside myself and watched my interactions with my children. I watched how my ten-month-old calmed and beamed when I held his gaze in mine. Then I noticed how he didn’t grow bored with it, how his pleasure intensified. It was clear that he was feeling grounded, secure and important. And that one act slowed my entire pace. Then I tried it with my three-year-old. Just the intentional, sustained eye contact pleased them both so much. It reminded me of what is important.
It’s easy to get caught up in the externals of our lives.
Still, it kept turning over in my mind. “Mommy, I need your intention.”
A couple of days later a friend called, “Let’s go splashing!” she bubbled. I breathed a heavy, heavy sigh. I’d been promising for weeks to get our kids together at the pool, but my house was a disaster area.
“I’m sorry,” I moaned into the phone. “I just can’t. I have got to clean my house.” We said our good-byes and I popped in a video and started sorting laundry.
“Mommy, I need your intention.” Intention. What is my intention? Suddenly, all of the jumbled ideas fell into a cohesive thought.
I am not an at-home mom to get as much done as possible. I’m an at-home mom because I don’t want my children living institutionalized childhoods.
I looked at my kids. What was I doing? I’m an at-home mom so that my kids can go swimming in the middle of a hot summer day like kids are supposed to do. Sure, there are boundaries, but my kids are the crux of it and laundry is a side dish—not vice-versa.
I called my friend back. “Let’s go swimming,” I said. Later I mentioned my thoughts on being an at-home mom.
“Good reminder,” she said. “I’ll have to write that one down.” As a side note she asked, “Does your husband agree with it?” I thought for a moment.
“In theory,” I laughed. She smiled and nodded. But that didn’t seem to be the point either. It’s my challenge to learn to juggle all of the balls I’ve got in the air. Not everyone will always understand why one is in the air while another is in my hand. The crux of it is my kids, and they need my intention.
© 2002 Susan Marshall
After a decade of being at home with her children, Susan Marshall is currently a psychotherapist in private practice and a mindfulness meditation instructor. She loves her work, but her first priority remains her husband, their 2 sons (who are now teenagers), and their two dogs. For more information and writings by Susan, please visit her Center for Mindful Exploration website or Facebook page.