Those fifteen minutes allow me to feel connected to him and I hope that our conversations show him that what he thinks and how he feels matters to me.
I'm good at that. I'm that kind of mom.
I spend quite a bit of time with both of my boys every day, but most days it feels like we're always on the go. I do my best to make time for them together and individually, but there are times when I feel like I could or should do more.
You would think that as a "stay at home" parent, I would have all the time in the world to do oh say ... thoughtful, involved, hands-on, create something incredible, one-on-one activities with the boys. But in reality, ain't no mama got time for that! If it's not school, it's bambini hockey. If it's not bambini hockey, it's my husband's hockey ... or physio (which we have to drive him to and from). If it's not my husband's physio, it's a doctor appointment or errands that must be run or chores that won't do themselves. There just isn't enough time in the day for me to be Supermom.
That, and I simply hate artsy and craftsy activities. I have never, ever been good at them.
I actively avoid Pinterest because instead of inspiring me to create a snowman out of nothing more than a q-tip and a popsicle stick or to pick up a leaf on the street, paint it, and make it into something worthy of a frame, it gives me anxiety and makes me feel like a complete failure as a parent (at least in that aspect of parenting).
I am certain that I am not alone in feeling less-than as a parent because we don't do thoughtful, involved, hands-on, create something incredible, one-on-one activities that everyone else seems to have the time and energy and patience and desire to do.
Some of us just aren't that kind of mom.
And the thing is, I don't think my kid is that kind of kid either.
See, I was kind enough to pass along my control-freak-perfectionist-obsessive-compulsive nonsense onto Linden. He tells you what to do and how to do it and not in a helpful way. He quite literally tells you how to play with him, his way. His way or the highway. He does it with the kindest, most gentle heart ... but he does it. And it's annoying.
I also passed on my inability to be creative and artistic.
So, a few weeks back, when Katja asked if Linden and I would like to participate in an arts and crafts project with a handful of his classmates and their parents, my initial reaction was: PASS. Nope. No thanks. Not us.
We're not those people.
But as our time in Germany comes to an end, I am making an effort to say yes to things I wouldn't normally consider. I am trying to take a few more steps outside my comfort zone. I am attempting to make a few more memories. I am telling myself that it's now or never.
Yes. We would love to participate. Thank you.
So yesterday, with seven other kids and seven other parents, we sat down at a long table covered in foam board and scissors and tape and glue and stencils and empty yogurt containers.
I was filled with anxiety. I knew how this was going to go down. Linden wouldn't know how to use scissors or trace stencils or color because I have failed him in that way. Everyone was going to look at me with disapproving eyes as Linden and I waged a battle of wills against one another over who was doing it right and who was doing it wrong. I would get frustrated. He would cry. Our little floating whatever-these-are-called were going to suck.
And then, the funniest thing happened.
As Katja explained the project to the group, Linden sat straight up in his chair and listened intently to her every word and watched her every move.
When it was go-time, I asked him what colors he wanted to use. He told me I could choose the yogurt container colors and he would choose the foam board colors.
If I trace the shapes, Linden, will you cut them out? Sure, Mommy.
I handed him the first set of shapes, he picked up the scissors, and off he went.
He was quiet and focused and he knew exactly what he was doing. He was good at it.
This was not his first arts and crafts rodeo.
The hour we spent making those whatever-these-are-called was one of my most favorite hours.
I saw a different side of Linden. I saw the side of him that is willing to share, open to compromise, and able to relax. I saw a Linden who was confident in his German. I saw a Linden who enjoyed arts and crafts. I realized that Katja is more than making up for my deficiencies as one of those moms.
And I was so, so proud of my first baby.