motherhood

One-on-One time with Mommy

The older two girls were home today in honor of President’s Day, so the morning began with everyone crawling into my bed after Faris left for work. The cuddles were fabulous until Aiza started crying that the other two were getting to “hug” me more than her. Normally I dismiss it, give her a squeeze and move on with the day. But since we had a bit of extra time without the morning school rush, I decided to investigate. I sat Rania down for a bowl of cereal at the breakfast table, gathered a few toys for Zahra and put her on the floor in my bedroom, and then brought Aiza our favorite breakfast in bed: Eggo waffles with fiesta cheese sprinkled on top (my quirky but favorite way to have waffles, which she has inherited!) It was officially time for a heart to heart.

The smile radiating on her face when I brought the waffle and cuddled under the covers with her, already made me feel better. She has a way of smiling through her eyes — like they twinkle or something. And the twinkle was there, just from something so small! All was glittery and beautiful in the world, until she made my heart stop: “Mommy, I wish Rania and Zahra didn’t live here so that you and I could cuddle and talk all the time without any interruptions.”

Aiza is my eldest at age 4 and has off and on in the past two years given me heart-breaking one-liners like this in a soft, sad, trembly voice. The kind where you want to scoop up your child, smother them with kisses, and take out your supermom sword to battle anything and anyone that comes to harm them. Although she had 18 precious months all to herself before Rania came along, she doesn’t remember that time. All she can remember is that her needs have constantly been put on hold so I could care for baby Rania. And then her needs were further put on hold, because I had to care for Rania AND baby Zahra. As a result, she is my most emotionally sensitive child AND the most attached to me. She seeks my approval and attention in every tiny detail of her life.

And today I could hear pain in her voice. And it’s not like I’m unaware of how much she wants time with me on a day to day basis – but I try to balance all three of the girls’ needs as best as I can. Because, as much as Rania, my 2 y.o. may be independent, she’s still my baby girl and she wants my love and attention just like anyone else. She just doesn’t voice it as much, and deals better with me having to take care of other things by busying herself. But that doesn’t mean I should forget that she still needs loving too.

Basically, life cannot revolve around any one child, and that’s a very important concept for every kid to grow up with. So I don’t regret having three girls close in age – I think all these challenges and their interactions with one another growing up is going to make all of them stronger individuals. But at times like this, I just feel a heartache, that I’m failing as a mom. After all, it’s my job to help my daughter feel emotional security at such a young age. So what am I supposed to do?

Many of my family members and close mommy friends have suggested that I make special Aiza time and special Rania time every week. I love the idea; it makes sense, it would fill a void in their lives, and then I could have these heart to hearts more frequently and keep a better pulse on their feelings.

BUT LET’S BE REAL. There are not enough hours in the day as it is! I may not be working, but momming is still a full-time job. Between, cleaning, cooking, grocery-ing, getting the kids to and from school, laundry, misc home errands, working off my baby belly at the gym, a 9 month old baby, entertaining two toddlers after they get home from school, bathing everyone, feeding everyone, remembering to brush my teeth, NOT SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT FOR FOUR YEARS, and trying to find a minute in the day to breathe for myself…sometimes I just cannot find the time to do “special” time with the girls. I mean, C’mon. Give mommy a break please!

I can honestly only make time for their special personalized time once a week – and that clearly isn’t enough. And it’s not even perfect, because we constantly get interrupted by the other two (someone needs to go to the toilet, or someone’s cookie got eaten up by the kitchen floor, or someone may have just swallowed a penny….you get the picture). So we’re back to square one. What to do, to help Aiza feel that mommy still cares about her, loves her and wants to spend time with her?

Well folks, I have a plan. And it involves dear ol’ dad, because why should he get off the hook so easily, right?!

Here it is:

  1. Once a week, do the “special” time with each girl, AFTER Faris gets home. Leave the baby and one daughter with him, and take the other one out of the house – so that they truly get uninterrupted one on one time with me. This is hard because our evenings are usually jam-packed with dinner, bath time and pre bed time routines…but he’ll have to try and make it home a little earlier twice a week.
  2. Every night during bedtime stories – to split the girls up. Let one daughter get to read a book with me, while the other two read with Faris. Then switch so the other daughter gets to read a book with me alone too. This may seem small to us, but for little people, story time and cuddling with momma by yourself is a big deal.
  3. Once a month to do a sleepover in the girls’ room. I’ll just lay out a mattress and sleepover with them. We can giggle before bedtime and share funny stories and just be all around happy. I’ll have to run back and forth to the other room to check on Zahra, but once a month should be do-able.

It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a start, and it’s much more than they get right now. What do y’all think? Any other ideas for me?

Fingers-crossed that these things help bring some peace to my darlings’ hearts. Meanwhile, I’m ushering the girls out of the house in their PJs for an impromptu park day! I just need to see some smiles on their faces right now. 🙂

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