Without tooting my own horn too loudly (that expression always makes me giggle), I think I can say that I am a pretty good mother. I keep Espen clean, clothed and fed. He has a bed time schedule. I read him books every day, take him to the park, to story time, to play dates and to the library. I give him lots of hugs and kisses, and tell him that I love him several times a day. I set clear boundaries and expect them to be followed. I keep a running tally in my head of how much fruit and vegetables he has eaten in a day. I am teaching him the alphabet, numbers, how to pray and how to put away toys when we're finished with them. I limit his screen time and try to make sure that we get out of the house for at least a little while every day. I sing songs at bedtime and try to answer his every two year-old question as truthfully and simply as possible. In short, 90%* of the time, I know what I'm doing, and I'm pretty sure I know that I'm doing it right.
However, where I do fall short time and time again is in the one thing that Espen wants from me more than anything: in giving him my time and full attention. How many times in a day does he ask "let's play together?" and how many times do I respond something like "oh, I just need to [fill in the blank]" or "not right now, sweetheart" or, now that I'm in the third trimester, "Mama is just really tired." It's honestly painful to even admit that.
To be fair to myself, I know that I have things that need to be done on a given day. I know that I need to make time for myself to rest, especially in these last few weeks (ok, nine) before the baby arrives and we are thrown into chaos until we find our feet as a family of four.
But I also know that what my little boy needs is me. Face-to-face time with my and my full attention. A chance to really feel like he is my top priority. So I've been making a bit more of an effort lately to put down my book/phone/laptop/work and spend that time with him. Yesterday I asked if Espen wanted to play with me, and you should have seen the way his little face lit up! We raced cars back and forth across the coffee table together, and Espen was having so much fun that he was cackling like a lunatic. It only took 10-15 minutes of my day, but I could see just how much it made his.
Later that afternoon, we turned on some music, got out the water colors and painted together. Again, Espen loved every moment. He kept telling me "this is our play group!" At one point I grabbed my phone to check something, and Espen asked me to "put that away!" because he knows that it takes my attention away from him.
Message received, little Espen-friend. Maybe not "lesson learned" just yet, but I am trying.