There’s a profound book called Listen that has helped guide how I parent Maya as she enters toddlerhood. One of the principles in the book is called “special time” — it’s about finding three to sixty minutes at the beginning of each day to do whatever it is that Maya wants. It’s a time of full attention and complete presence. I’ve seen how that type of connection fills Maya up, builds a confidence within her, a deep trust with us, and primes her for the day.
Parenting Maya has been teaching me about intimate relationships. Pre-Maya I didn’t really consider relationship to be a “skill” that required learning and cultivation. Now, becoming a mother and taking her life very seriously, she’s showing me first hand how thriving relationships are about listening and connection.
Last month, my husband, Maya and I spent Sundays together all-day, mostly in nature. It was really, really wonderful. That nourishment would carry me through the stresses of the week, until we replenished again on our weekly Sundays together. Then, my husband’s schedule became busy the past few weeks — he was away for four nights, had long days with early morning meditations that went into day-long trainings that would go into the evening. The time we did spend on the weekend felt distracted. I felt disconnected. I began to see all of the frustrating things about him more than the ways I appreciated him. A few days ago I texted a friend and said “Hey, can you help watch Maya on Sunday for a few hours? I think Eli and I could really use a date night.”
Yesterday, we attended a weekly Waldorf Parent-Child class with Maya. In a circle, in the usual fashion, the parents check in about how the week has been. Eli said: “I want to really appreciate Cat. Her and Maya have found some trust and a way around her sleep that has been working.” My tension immediately softened and eyes dampened with tears — the hard walls that had been forming the past few weeks started to crumble away. My heart was longing for that acknowledgement — wow, he has been seeing how hard I’ve been working with her. I turned towards him and then really saw him. How hard he was working and parenting and loving; how sincere and kind his tone and words were. The Cruella de Ville version of the husband I had seen up until that moment suddenly evaporated.
I’m seeing that, yes, date night is really important. And it’s also not. Those micro-moments of appreciation, connection and feeling seen are most freeing. I’m wondering how I can put less all of my hopes and dreams into a once a month night — and instead (or in addition to) put a small amount of time each day where, just like me and Maya’s special time, we are fully present — and can see each other clearly.