My title sounds awfully lofty, and my goal feels like a simple one. Well, simply phrased. I want to learn to enjoy my kids. It sounds simple, but anyone who has small children knows how hard this can be to do in reality. There are days when I find myself hiding from my children, if not physically then emotionally. But one of my goals for this summer was to try to occasionally set aside the to-do lists and really be with them. It hasn’t been easy. One thing after another has fought for my attention. Vacations, family wedding, church projects, swim lessons, fall homeschool planning (including serious curriculum debate and deliberation). For the first time this week, I feel like I’ve really stopped and willingly engaged them.

Before you start imagining me as some kind of super mom, let me bring reality into that vision. These are baby steps. My daughter has a half hour swim lesson each morning for the next few weeks. I’ve been bringing a stack of books and reading to my son. He sits in my lap and I read, read, read. Sometimes several books, sometimes the same one over and over again. It’s humid and the grass is damp. I can feel the sweat clinging to his neck and soaking his hair. He is a sweaty little ball of energy but instead of pushing him away, I pull him closer. Someday he won’t want to do this with me anymore.

My daughter and I pursue some low pressure reading exercises. At first she resists so I read aloud to the empty air, my son is always happy for mommy to sit on the floor with him and is immediately interested. Soon my daughter wants to make sure her brother doesn’t get the hang of this reading thing first.

Yesterday they played together happily in the living room with limited fighting and it felt like a dream. Rather than worry about whether it will last or rush to finish things up before they created trouble. I watched and enjoyed.

These are little things. Just moments. That is what I’m striving for right now. Grand plans of family bonding tend to go bad quickly. So for now I’ll settle for this. I wanted to share this small victory, not because I think I’ve accomplished so much. But rather because even these baby steps felt impossible not so long ago. So if you feel you’ll never enjoy your kids, take heart. I’m not there yet, but I’m on the way. You can be too.