I didn't wake up before my kids today for my usual coffee/writing/ME time that seems to start the day off so perfectly. Instead, I pretended that my alarm really hadn't gone off and I tried to hold on to just a few more minutes in bed with my eyes closed. Before I knew it, all three kids were awake and making it so very obvious that my warm-cozy-bed-time was so far from OVER. Days started like this always have a feeling of trying to catch up if I'm not intentional in "SLOWING DOWN" and just going with the flow.
So, after getting my older kids out the door to school this morning, I took a deep breath, grabbed my coffee and thought I might sneak in a moment to just sit down with myself and collect my thoughts that I didn't wake up early for. But my three year old son seemed pretty intent on making sure that none of that nonsense happened. While I was in slow motion mode and wanting to ease into my day, HE was already bounding up and down the halls, warming up his LOUD voice, whining about wanting to eat his third meal of the day before 8:15 a.m, and making it clear that he wanted my time and attention and not to be set off to play alone. I get this. He has his rights to mommy time. However, there is only so much rough boy play I can handle before finishing my coffee so I chose one of the best ways I know of sharing love and quality time with my kids. I grabbed a big stack of books from the playroom library and carried them out to the couch with a blanket and a happy little boy. After reading Maisy's Pool at least six times by request, I picked up one of my all-time favorite stories to read to my children...The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.
I've read this story many times over the last decade...to my own children and to children that cared for and taught before my children were given to me. In all the times I've read this story, I don't think I've ever really noticed the dedication. But today, the dedication words made me stop for a minute.
"...and children everywhere who love to be loved."
These words are so beautiful to me. Yes, children everywhere...adults alike...humans...
we all loved to be loved. Love is perhaps the greatest need or want that there is. It is one of the things that makes us human...the ability, desire, and need to LOVE and be LOVED. And what appropriate words for this book and any children's book really. Reading to our children....really sharing a story with them...is one of my favorite ways to soak up a loving moment with them. And this book is such a beautiful message of the love we share with our children.
The Kissing Rocks
It was this book that first inspired me to start the tradition of the Kissing Hand with my children in helping make it easier for them to say goodbye to me when I had to go to work or anytime I was leaving them with someone else. My first daughter loved her kissing hands and she loved giving me MY kissing hands before I headed off to my teaching job. I'd kiss her tiny hands and close them tight and she'd protectively put my kisses in her pockets or on her cheeks before returning the gift. I'd take my hands and kiss them after she did and then I'd ask for another to put in my pocket. And another to just hold on to all day. It was our little routine. So special. It certainly made the morning ritual of saying goodbye go so smoothly.
Once my son was old enough to leave him in the gym childcare or with a babysitter, he struggled with leaving me...even more so than my daughters since he had been home with me always. We tried the kissing hand and this worked sometimes, but for him, he needed something more tangible...something he could really hold on to. And that's when the Kissing Rock tradition began.
On our way into the gym, we always pass an area with rocks and all it took was one time for my son to pick up a rock and refuse to put it back that gave me the idea to kiss it and let him put it safely in his pocket...the rest is history. So, for almost two years now, we have our Kissing Rocks. Something about having his special rock that has been kissed by his mommy, gives him such peace and a feeling of control. He puts that rock into his pocket and off he goes.
It is his invisible cape.
His blanket of warmth.
Sometimes he has two or three and sometimes only one but he almost always has to grab a kissing rock on the way into the gym or the church nursery. I'm secretly happy that he hasn't yet outgrown this tradition that is so dear to my heart.
As the years have gone by, we have taken many a "gym rock". We try to remember to put them back sometimes but I'm sure we owe the gym at least a couple hundred pounds of rock. I find rocks in pockets and in small clusters in the side pockets of my son's car seat. There are random rocks in the toy boxes and under pillows. Anyone who didn't know our tradition would probably wonder what's up with all the random rocks around the house. But for me, these rocks are LOVE. Each time I find one, I think of the love I have for my kids and of how much we all...
LOVE to be LOVED.
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