There is something I really struggle with as a stay-at-home mom.
It might not seem like a big thing, but I do think it is an important thing.
It's something I did not even realize until one day last summer, as Colter and I sat at the kitchen table eating lunch, and I looked up from the book I was reading to find him staring at me. Completely silent, just looking at me, while I was completely silent, just reading my book.
I realized that I was pretty poor company over meals, opting to grab a book or a magazine, or the iPad, instead of interacting with my small, impressionable meal buddy. I got into this habit when Colter was a baby, eating meals by myself and reading or doing crossword puzzles. When he started eating at the table, I would often still have meals on my own, eating breakfast before he was up and waiting to eat lunch after he went down for a nap. As he got older and ate with me, I never really got out of the habit. So I decided last summer there would be no more reading at the table. No reading books or magazines, and no texting, "text" encompassing pretty much anything with written words.
Sometimes it is easy, because Colter is chatty or Elliott needs help eating with a spoon and there wouldn't be time to read anyway. Other times, I just want to disconnect for a brief bit of time. Isn't that what lunch breaks are for in the working world? A bit of a respite from the nose-to-the-grindstone nature of the day? Forget it when you share your lunch break with small kids.
I'm not always so good about it. Kids seem to eat at two speeds: devour and savor...every...last...morsel. On those savoring days, I have been known to flip through the mail, look through catalogs at things I'll never buy, or go start on the dishes. As of late, I have found that keeping a knitting project handy encourages me to sit and engage with my little humans without feeling bored. (I can hear it now. Someone out there is saying, "She feels bored around her children? What a terrible mother!" They are precious and wonderful and all that, but I do not have an answer to the fifth rendition of "But why do I have grapes on my plate?", and even if I did, the exchange could never be mistaken for stimulating conversation.)
During meals when Keith is home, we are pretty good about not texting or answering the phone. Keith is actually better than I am; he typically sets his phone down when he comes in the door and doesn't touch it until the boys are in bed. I have started to leave my phone in the kitchen or on my desk during the day, where I can hear it if it rings but it is just out of the way enough that I am not inclined to check it frequently. Check it for what, I don't know. I'm not exactly a social butterfly. Even putting the iPad and the kindle away in a drawer helps me not to pick either up in a moment of restlessness.
My aim is just to be more present, more of the time with them. Obviously, I am here all the time with them, but sometimes after the seventeenth "uh-huh," I'll turn to see Colter looking at me and I know he knows I am not truly paying attention to him. I am prone to the distractions of good books and funny blogs, the news and what the neighbors are doing, the dirty dishes and the load of laundry needing to be folded (usually in that order too.) So the no-text table is simply about carving out a bit of time, limiting the distractions, and interacting with my kids.
Can we let it slide that the knitting patterns have words, though?