When you have a child you think a lot about caring. You do it and you question it too. Am I doing it right? Is this how I should be looking after a child who’s ten months, one year, a year and a half, two or 16? The wondering never stops. You always look for answers. And oh yes… there are so many people, books, gurus or even companies and organizations that are delighted to tell you how to do it… naturally recommending their own preferred ways.
When you are new to the role and utterly shattered it’s all too easy to go for those choices… to be swayed by persuasion of almost anyone… and this happens precisely because you truly love and you truly care… and thus you are truly willing to extend yourselves and make those steps and sacrifices that are often prescribed as necessary and crucial for your child’s development.
I do that too. Constantly. It’s part of learning how to be a mum and how to respond to this ever-changing and evolving-before-my-eyes character. But sometimes there’s just too much advice to implement, too many demands and conflicting requirements placed on parents and when that happens all that you need is a good dose of distance and a pause to breathe and think: Is this really what my child needs from me now? What is his personality really crying for? Is this really answering the need that emerges in the context of my family at this current moment in time? Is this caring or is this just a symbol of it?
I look at my son, I observe him, I listen to his simple talking and I follow his eyes, gestures and body language and I try to look for hints and clues in him. He is telling me how he wants to be looked after… and it is mostly in his words and his behaviour that I find my answers.
And so I am reminded through these simple observation acts that caring is mainly about communication… about being willing to listen and observe. It’s in being in the present… with our child, with our families, in our spaces, and in our circumstances. The rest is just an option.