What effect do the little day-to-day things you do for and with your kids have in the overall scheme of their lives? What does it matter? Do they care that you care? Do the nights spent caring for a sick child or the days on end of being cooped up with sniffling children even count as an important part of mothering? It would seem that much of motherhood is just getting through the tough times, just getting by when you have really had enough. Really, how much of the stuff of these early years do kids even remember?
They don’t remember much in terms of events, surroundings, day-to-day life. But it is in these little seemingly meaningless everyday tasks that we are slowly building a strong bond of trust. Our little ones learn that someone responds when they cry. They repeatedly are cared for by the same people. They learn that they are part of a family, a caring unit. They have a face to bond with: a face of care, a face they can trust.
In those times of sickness, of crabbiness, of tantrums…they learn a little about perseverance, patience, endurance and about a bond that is not easily broken. When their actions, behavior, and sickness causes them to be hard to love, hard to care for, they learn what it is like to be nurtured in spite of it all…they learn about steadfastness.
Little by little, layer upon layer, trust is born and developed between mother and child. It really can only happen this way. The small stuff of life, the hard stuff of life, and the everyday over-and-over-again stuff of life creates bonds that are not easily broken. Little by little, layer upon layer, the family is built; trust and love begin to flourish.
Not only are trust and family bonds built in the small, sometimes hard, stuff of life, but here character is formed–both ours as moms and our children’s. Our children are the recipients of our behavior and also the observers of it. Daily, we model in a hundred little ways how life is lived. In the ways we deal with our sleepless nights, our fears and anxieties, sickness, anger and frustration, we demonstrate our character to our kids. Their character in formed in our interactions in the smallest details of life…layer upon layer.
For many moms, this winter has been one of endless days at home with coughing, sniffling, vomiting, or generally sick kids. Being stuck at home isn’t fun, and it is stressful for any mom to have sick children. But this is part of life with preschoolers; this is your life now, and it is important. Your sacrifices are important. Your time spent with kids who need you is time that they won’t remember, but it is a layer that is part of the solid foundation you are building for and with your kids.
Jan Roberson has been a mentor in the Bigfork MOPS for 7 years. She has taught in public and private schools, homeschooled and has been a private tutor. Dan and Jan have two adult children, Caitlin and Nathaniel, and have lived in the Flathead Valley for more than 20 years.