Special Care and Being Seen

Special Care has long been a simple but very meaningful term in my home. And, I’ve been thinking about it a lot as age and growth moves forward for all of us.

It began as a way to define a time of uninterrupted attention with my oldest back when she was tiny. It was difficult to get her mind to slow down at night. There were times she would play in her crib for three hours before falling asleep. I look at it now, and I think she inadvertently fell in with the daily chaos of the home. And it was hard to stop that momentum at night, she tried but did it alone for a while. Because I didn’t understand. But the time came where she needed to know when a space of time belonged to her and her only. When I wouldn’t address anything else for the moment. Undivided. And it would become even more important for both of them, once there were two.

Grace had a little purple beanbag in her room. I’d stick all 20 pounds of her in it, turn down her lights and we’d “talk” about the events of the day. This meant me telling her all the things we’d done, in order, while she nodded slowly at each. Engrossed as she recalled each happening from just hours before like it was new again. She would light up at some things, express concern over others. Some she just listened to…and agreed that, yes, they had happened. But this was the start of Special Care. Uninterrupted attention.

It ended up looking a lot of different ways over the years for the sisters. Cuts and bruises meant we’d assess, gather supplies like ice packs and meds and sit together and treat it. Wait it out. Sicknesses meant we would set up a quiet area with favorite stuffies, a movie, cold water, cold rag, tissues. Otherwise unclassified sadness meant we maybe run out somewhere fun together, run a tub with ‘glamour’ and bath supplies and toys, or get a snack and watch a movie where no one else was quote unquote allowed to sit with us or change the channel. It didn’t and doesn’t take much, but making a point of the Special Care always made them feel, for however short a time it was, that they were the only person that mattered. It became such a part of our vernacular that when Joey was really little and someone dared try to draw me out of the Special Care zone, she would definitively shout out, “I’M HAVING SPECIAL CARE RIGHT NOW!😠”…even when we would just be drawing together or some other open ended activity. We’d defined it as such so that’s what we were doing.

The words alone became a sort of invisible wall and distinction between any distraction or responsibility and the uninterrupted attention they didn’t know how to ask for or even know they needed. Things as simple as a walk in the yard have been treated as Special Care during breakdowns and blowups. This one in particular with my youngest, who has always suffered through high levels of anxiety. And it becomes a rescue operation in a sense. It lets her know there is an unassuming escape route from what she’s feeling when I see that she can’t get out of it another way. It helps her to know that I see her. Period. And that that’s all that I see.

Special Care will continue to evolve in our home as the years go by. As their needs change and as their struggles change. As important as it is for adults to feel, even momentarily that we are being taken care of, we often have to accomplish it on our own. Recognize ourselves. Name our own needs. By ourselves. I don’t like to think about my girls ever having to do that. And they will one day. Regardless of who ends up taking my place.

For now, I’m holding on to these important bonding times between us. Through them, these moments have been a personal reward for me and crucial in them understanding their importance and equal value to me. As well as their awareness that they have needs that should be nurtured. It doesn’t take much to make someone you love feel cared for. But I have to make sure to remember I am one of those people, too. And this is one of the greatest ways I remind myself of just that.

Be Well, Friends
Sam

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24 thoughts on “Special Care and Being Seen

  1. You are a special Dad and God will continue to bless you and your girls because you care.

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    1. Thank you! I have many ‘misses’ to balance out yet!

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  2. I love that you have provided and continue to provide this for your girls. And I love that they defend it with such ownership, “I’M HAVING SPECIAL CARE RIGHT NOW.” 😁

    Even though we, as adults, have to provide this kind of nurturing to ourselves, I need to learn how to be as defensive of my “special care” time as Joey. I am too often drawn out by the demands of someone else.

    Glad my own child wasn’t the only one who would stay awake for hours after being put to bed. She’s still an insomniac, even when we have time together before she lays down to sleep. Sigh….I think she’s part raccoon or some other nocturnal creature. She didn’t get that crap from me!

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    1. Hahah, she is damn sure adamant that no one intervene on her time!

      So true! I forget as well that no one will melt away if I take a moment for me. Just yesterday I had JUST turned the shower on and she comes knocking on the door that the Minecraft monitor quit. So i leave the water running, try everything I know, haul a tv monitor down from the bedroom, hooking, unhooking, cycling through options, rebooting all while the water is running out. I finally just swapped old for a new hdmi cord and realized this *entire* time she had been nowhere around anyway and was now “writing in my journals!” up in her closet. She NEVER got on that game and there was no hot water left anywhere in sight! Bleeergg

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  3. This is such an amazing thing you do for your kids! Seriously! I see some of your posts like this and I wish I’d done things like that. Granted, I don’t think any of my kids had that level of need or would have benefited in the same way your kids have, but I adore the concept. You have given your kids this foundation of being able to lean on you as a parent. They will know and trust that you will always be there and that foundation isn’t going anywhere. That is so frickin’ amazing. You are such an awesome dad.

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    1. I think for all my oblivion, somewhere I actually realized that my kids were going to need many things I didn’t have growing up, only there was no frame of reference cause…I hadn’t had it. A lot of the time I try to look at what I need *now* too and offer it to them. That’s a much easier window to bear looking through! Thank you so much, my friend!! 😭

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      1. I’m very much a “parent differently than I was parented” kind of mom. There were a lot of things growing up that left their marks on me and I wanted to try as hard as I could not to leave those same marks on my kids. It isn’t possible to leave none. I’m aware of that. I just hope that I’ve left more positive than negative by the time they’ve grown. One thing that I do know I’ve done right is that my kids are comfortable confronting both Hubby and I if we say or do something unthinkingly that may have hurt them or that they didn’t agree with. They know they can and are comfortable speaking up if they feel the need. Seeing that they are both in HS now and are capable of doing that is pretty dang incredible.

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        1. That’s a big one! We had no voice with my father and, to an extent, I still don’t. But now it may be a matter of role reversal, not sure. My biggest fear is my kids ever being afraid to speak up for themselves, my dads way was that we better not.

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  4. Aww…you’re bringing years to my eyes. 😍Your girls are very lucky to have you! I would have given anything to have this when I was a child.
    Giving from our hearts lets love come in too, as I’m sure you know. Just beautiful!🌻🌹💌

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    1. Oh I would have too! Only I had no clue how much I needed it cause it wasn’t there! It helped me have a different perspective on it when I started seeing some of my struggles manifest in my kids as they grew. It helped me know what they would need because I knew what *I* would want! I just didn’t learn exactly what that was until I got older. Thank you so so much for the sweet words! 😭😭😭

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  5. Special care sounds awesome – such a special time!

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    1. It really is! My youngest has such a visible relief from her stressors whenever I can help her extract herself from a ‘moment’, even if it’s only acknowledgment of it. The worst thing is not being able to name what you’re feeling and being validated in those feelings is something we rarely get as adults, it’s hard to learn our importance if no one showed us!

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    1. My dad is with me this week and that always…reflects certain issues for me. Like even though we will undoubtedly cause issues for our kids in one way or the other, we can definitely fight against the ones we’re aware of! He helps me remember, lol! Thank you so much my friend 🤗

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      1. I always say our parents did they best they could and probably/ hopefully an improvement from how they were raised AND then like a relay race they pass the baton and we get to heal the generations one little bit more.

        I come from a long line of some pretty bad shit but my mom broke the cycle and left me with a decent place to start from.

        But WE will never be perfect so just keep being you… trying your best everyday.

        Keep up da good fight💛

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        1. Thank goodness my mom intervened on that cycle as well. I can’t imagine the mess if she hadn’t been there to balance out our home and set some proper examples!! 😲

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          1. Moms eh? When they are good… they are sooooo goood!!

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  6. Just from reading a few posts I already know that you are an excellent dad! Wow, what a sweet concept of giving them your undivided attention…something they absolutely deserve! I hope you also give yourself that special care, when you need it. As a busy parent I tended to forget about taking care of my needs. No regrets though! 😃

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    1. They had a rough few years that we are still repairing from, my own mistakes included. We may finally be in the preventative maintenance phase though, lol! I’m trying to stay mindful of these things that have always worked for us, no matter how old they get. Thank you for these nice words! I try to take my time if it ever comes up but like you say, no regrets, I totally get that 🤗🤗🤗

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      1. I’m happy to hear you all are in the final stages of what you’re going through. We all make mistakes and truly do the best we can do at the time, I believe that. 😃

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  7. You’re sounding pretty Buddhist. My very Zen friend, Karen Maezen Miller, says something about “attention being the purest expression of love”. Your kids are so lucky to have a Dad who, not only recognizes that, but makes it his practice. Yeah, you’re killing this Dad thing !! So glad you write about it.

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    1. That makes so much sense. It’s something we all have access to and ability to give, buy so precious at the same hand as time always seems so limited. Thank you so much 🤗 There has been *so* much trial and error (mostly error) but I love to look to figure out these little ‘codes’ that can help us all at the same time!

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  8. No one sends them home with a book of instructions. We all play it the best we can with what we have and you are doing a great job. Mine might have waited until the shower was done, no, they definitely would have waited but like you, each had their own time each day and each night. I’d read a story with them and even when they were older and could read, we’d read back and forth and after the reading time it was dump time. How was their day? What was good and not so good. Lots came tumbling out and sleep was better. But I too had a night owl. It’s a horrible life for them when the rest of the world expects them to be in school or work just as they are falling asleep. It doesn’t get a lot easier for them. My only rule was they stay in their room until I was awake. Self care is essential to survival of all. If you don’t carve out self time, everyone gets short changed. If it was just reading for half an hour. Good luck. I’m so glad I’m almost done with that. Mine are 51 and 46. Sigh. 😉

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    1. Haha, she definitely would have waited for me but in that I was just saying Im conditioned to jumping instead of taking a few moments for me. I often forget to tell her that I need time sometimes too, gah! I love the talking near bedtime, you’re right they seem to say things they can’t during a busy day and it *absolutely* helps them sleep 🤗 I hate to think that kind of chaos not getting better for them but we know that’s sadly so true!

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