Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Parenting with enough love

Here is a newsletter article I recently wrote for school...I thought I would share it with anyone who wanted to read it:

I have been an early childhood educator for twelve years and a mother for over thirteen.  When I considered what topic to write about for this article, I had so many competing ideas.  Most of them derived from my graduate work this year and the many things I am learning and practicing in the studio environment.  I started several articles but there remained one topic, more than any other, that demanded my attention and that was the principle of enough love
Several years ago, I became aware of the slippery slope of too much doing.  As a single mom, I realized how easily I could overlook the quiet and unobtrusive invitations by life to show up fully present.  Each day we are invited to fully embrace the gifts of the moment and savor opportunities to be wholly available with those we love.  As a busy mom I knew that the two people most likely to suffer from a busy lifestyle were my children.  And so, in 2010, I coined the term enough love.  Together, my boys and I decided to use the phrase enough love (which was quickly shortened to enough by my youngest) whenever they needed me, really needed me, to be present.  Now when they ask for enough love I stop and give it to them.  What this looks like varies from day to day, but often one or the other of them will be having a challenging day and just need arms to wrap them in warmth.  They will say, “Mom I need enough” and I stop what I am doing and hold them for as long as they need.  Sometimes I listen and sometimes it’s just a hug.  In these moments I am not thinking of the dishes in the sink, or the bills on the counter. I am simply holding them and loving them for as long as they need me.  It seldom lasts longer then a few minutes before they push gently away and say “Thanks mom.  I have enough.” And off they go, into their own busy lives.   In three years they have never asked for enough love except when they needed it.
This simple practice has had a ripple effect in my life.  It has changed how I parent and it has even effected how I teach.  I strive to be fully present with the children and adults who enter the studio.  I try to listen deeply to their words and questions and to continue to provide the support necessary for each of them to climb their own mountains, no matter how high.  As a mother, enough love looks like a loving embrace.  As a teacher it looks like a genuine curiosity and interest in who each child is and what interests them and motivates them.  It looks different depending on the roles we play but it is always enough.
Recently I underwent heart surgery, and in the weeks leading up to it I found myself more frenzied, emotional and less patient then I am ordinarily.  One night my oldest son came in to my room and said, “Mom you need enough love” and he hugged me. Soon my youngest son tackled me with a tight hold and there they sat hugging me until I smiled and said, “Thank you, that’s enough”.  It was a great lesson.  As a parent and a teacher, I practice being present and available for the children whom I am blessed to know and learn alongside.  But as an adult it is easy to forget that each of us, no matter our age, needs enough.  At times we need to show up for ourselves with open arms, fully present and available for whatever is arising.  We need to occasionally set aside our own busy schedules and to do lists long enough to offer ourselves enough. And in so doing we will always have enough love to share.

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