Well recently a few events have happened that have weighed heavily on my heart. The first most of you might have heard about was the terrible deaths of 20 elementary children in Connecticut. How could this happen???? How could someone kill innocent little children that have only begun to live their lives? Those dreams of becoming a firefighter or ballerina (or in my girls' cases, a veterinarian and a mommy) will never get to flourish. Their dreams will never become a reality. What's worse is the thought that those parents never knew that morning would be the last time they would see their children's happy faces. That morning would be the last time they could say, "I love you." I think of all the times I drop my kids off at school mad because they're fighting once again or they are running late. I think of the last stern look they will see before going to class, and it kills me. I also think of the shooter (yes, I think of him as we'll) and wonder what type of life he had to make him do such a thing. Was there love? Was there encouragement? Did he have the support he needed?
Aside from the tragedy in Connecticut, I've been faced with sadness in my own home. Not the sadness of death, but the sadness of a child questioning themselves and losing their self esteem and confidence. My daughter who is now in the first grade recently informed her father and I that she has a baby name. She's the only one in her class that will grow up with a baby name. I hardly think that Riley is a baby name. She also informed us that she needed to get rid of her bangs because they make her look like she has a uni-brow and that she has a mustache. My heart aches that she would have such feelings about her image at such a young age. I suppose this is when those insecurities tend to be formed, but should they? Why must society create these standards that only a few can meet?
Ok, I'm rambling on now. So what is my point? My point is that I want my children to know how much I love them. I want them to know how special and beautiful they are not only to me but everyone in our family. I want them to know that the sky is the limit and there is nothing wrong with dreaming big. I want them to know that although I maybe be stern at times in order to raise respectful, polite, smart, independent children, I still love them and always will.
With that in mind I tried to come up with a way to show this love each and every day. I started with the basic and obvious ways. I toned down my temper, I increased my affection, and I decreased my time on the computer and phone (but that's a whole other post). In addition to these obvious changes I made one other change and the girls are quite excited about it. We started a new bedtime routine that ends each night on a loving note. Each night we all take turns telling each family member in the room something positive. It can start with, "I love you because...", "Thank you so much for...", "I'm so happy that you...", etc. The compliments are endless as long as it's something positive about that person. We always do this before the lights go out in the girls room so the last thing they hear before they close their eyes is something positive and full of love. We've been doing this since last Wednesday and so far it's a big hit. I always ask who wants to go first and both the girls are super excited and can't wait to spread the love around the room. To keep things simple we only comment for those that are in the room. Last night it was just the girls and I but usually we have the whole family if Linc is awake and Brian is home. Here's an example of how things go...
Reagan to Riley - "Thank you Riley for swinging me on the swing today!"
Reagan to Mommy - "Thank you mommy for making cookies with us today!"
Riley to Reagan - "Thank you Reagan for playing outside with me today!"
Riley to Mommy - "Thank you mommy for taking me to a fun party today!"
Mommy to Reagan - "You made beautiful gingerbread cookies today and I just know your friends will love them!"
Mommy to Riley - "You are so smart playing Words with Friends! You really thought up some great words today."
So that's how our night went. It only takes a few minutes each night, but the benefits are huge! It not only helps to strengthen our bonds and build self esteem, but it also reminds us all that even the little moments are noticed and treasured in our family. It's the little moments that count. I strongly urge each of you to set aside some time each day to make sure that the ones you love know you love them and why. It's so easy to go on thinking that love and appreciation is obvious to those around us, but sometimes we just need to take the time to say it.