My daughter is an observer of small things. She enjoys spending quality time at the park selecting just the right blade of grass to pick, and enjoys gazing up at the wind moving the trees.
Her nine months alive have taught her a great deal about dogs, flowers, sand, soil and sticks.
I am generally on the go. My partner labels me as “active.” I worked full time up until labor started with my daughter, and tried to jump back in full tilt when maternity leave ended.
I charged through the rest of the school year, grading, waking at dawn to pump milk, nursing while editing, and assessing others as my daughter played on a mat in my office and rested in an Ergo on my belly.
And now there is summer. Suddenly there is time to notice things with my daughter, to relish her first time at the beach, her first apricot, and her delight at learning to walk. But it is so slow!
As I sit with her, my mind rushes back to the house without me. I should be writing, I should be working on my students’ assignments for next year, I should be baby-proofing the house, I should arrange some sort of play-date… I wonder who has e-mailed…what’s in the news…
It’s hard to pull away from the screen and connect with my daughter. It’s hard to slow down to her pace, rather than pack her into the car and drive off to the store. But just for the moment, I decide to slow down. I look at her and focus on her face, her hands, her delight in the small things.
I reflect on her brain – making connections, referencing my responses to her discoveries.
At this moment she is learning to trust her world, and how she is treated now will frame how she expects to be treated as an adult.
I want her future partner, should she decide to have one, to meet her in joy, to connect, to communicate with her, and to admire the things she loves. Showing her that she is worthy of this partner starts with me.
The phone can wait. The computer can wait. There will be time for them when she naps. I need my baby to learn how to form connections with people, not screens. That starts with me. Being present and noticing.
How often do you slow down and enjoy a simple moment with your child? Share your favorite quality time moments!
Julia Luckenbill, MA, is program coordinator at the Early Childhood Lab School at UC Davis.