02 May Especially for Parents: The Gift of the Present
On a recent airplane ride, I sat behind a family that included a young girl who looked to be about 5 years old. While the plane was boarding, she cried softly in her seat and expressed her discontent to her mom, using some phrases that sounded familiar (our oldest daughter is about the same age). After a few moments, the mom scooped up her daughter in her lap, rubbed her back, and soothed her child’s feelings of distress. By the time we took off, all was well again.
Those moments of parenting young children are challenging; I spend a lot of time strategizing ways to avoid them. Yet as I watched the mom connect with her daughter, I thought about the ways in which parents in this stage bond with young children. There is something so simple and beautiful about comforting your child by merely holding him or her. Different stages will bring other ways of relating to your child, but what a gift it is in this phase to create a bond by that simple act.
As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the stage of our family and how we are experiencing one another. We are out of the baby phase, which brings both pangs of sadness as well as excitement about being able to do more together. Time seems to be going by quickly, with our girls changing so much; there is an almost urgent sense of wanting to be present for and enjoy the stages that they are in.
One of the values upheld by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is “The importance of the quality of children’s lives in the present, not only as preparation for the future.”
I think this is a wonderful point of focus for us as educators and for me as a parent. As part of the Creative Curriculum, our teaching staff develop activities and learning opportunities based on the current interests of the children, thus engaging with them where they are at and taking those interests to a deeper level of experience.
Similarly, in our family life, embracing the present helps me to deepen my experiences with my children. At this stage of parenthood, there is a certain type of chaos for many of us. And while reminders to experience the present can sometimes feel like another call to be or do something more than we are doing, the pace of our lives makes these reminders necessary for me.
We know that time is precious and that the unique qualities and opportunities of this stage will pass quickly. The narrow window of time in which our daughters and I can feel a powerful sense of closeness through a simple snuggle are a gift indeed.
Director of Marketing and Finance