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Don’t wait to make your son a great man – make him a great boy. ~ Author Unknown

And mothers are their daughter’s role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships. ~ Victoria Secunda

This morning, I wanted nothing more than to linger under the white feather down comforter covering my always-too-cold body. My morning-tangled strawberry-blonde tresses were sprawled all over the pillows three in a line across the width of the queen sized bed that I share with my husband, and most nights with Baby Girl snuggled in between us. Daylight Savings Time did not allow for a grand morning sleep-in, unfortunately. Even with an extra hour on the clock, I was sluggish in starting the day. Commitments of Sunday Mass and Sunday school class for The Boy were calling out to The Husband and me to get our act together. All I really wanted to do, truth be told, was spend the chilly day in my pajamas, drink tea, and read from my Kindle.

Because I’m not a member of the Crawley family, I returned to reality and willed myself to get a move on. It helped that The Kids brought up breakfast to me (as is their sweet custom on Sunday mornings) before rushing through the rest of my get-ready-and-be-somewhat-presentable-about-it routine involving a lightning-quick shower and changing clothes a few times before comfort won over and I felt just alright about my appearance. By the time my menial transformation was complete, I felt equipped to manage The Kids’ dressing and grooming routines while The Husband stole a few moments to himself.

It’s becoming easier, the Sunday routine. For the less-hectic pace, I am thankful. More often than I would like to admit, however, I kind of long for the time I spent a few years ago sacrificing my own set beautifying pattern for nursing an infant just one more time before heading out the door to church. On Sunday mornings, I feel my arms at their emptiest.

For years now, The Girl no longer needs my help with dressing or self-care. She only looks to me now for verification that her outfit and hair are presentable. Lately, the only reason The Boy comes to me for any kind of help is because he’s been operating without the use of his right arm due to a bad fall off of his bike while I was away in Martha’s Vineyard. Next Friday, he gets the full arm cast removed and will be back to regulation speed in no time and needing my help less and less. The most assistance Baby Girl wants anymore is in wrestling on her always-pink patterned tights, or untangling the mess of a knot in the back of her curly, blonde tresses. She’s mastering buttoning, zipping, brushing teeth, and all other bathroom situations. Where does the time go?  It’s a scary thought–frightening, honestly–to think that one day I might need my kids more than they need me. Is that even possible?

Being that I’m a mom of three children of various ages and stages, it’s difficult to find time for myself, but even trickier to carve out time to spend with each child separately. Presently, Baby Girl gets the most individual time with me for the very fact that she is in school for only a couple of hours on Friday mornings. (I am more in love with my kids every single new day, but having two hours to myself every week has been life-altering. A huge change for me. No joke.) Anyway, when the complaints start rolling in that they need some “special mommy time”—complaints heard mostly from The Girl and The Boy—I remind them that I had daily alone time with both of them before the other was born. The Girl had a straight run of fifteen months with me all to herself between the time she was permanently placed with us and before her baby brother was born. And, since The Girl was in preschool most days by the time he was born, The Boy actually enjoyed twenty-seven months of mommy-son time before becoming a big brother. Now, I tell them, it’s Baby Girl’s time to have own succession of mommy-daughter time. When the grievances become prevalent, though, spoken loud and clear without mistake, I abruptly tune in and take note that now is the time to start making more of an effort to ensure that each of them gets a few minutes of my undivided attention daily.

Special, daily alone time with each of my three children is fantastic—even if it’s just for a few minutes to talk about their day, read a chapter from a book, or complete a puzzle together. What’s even better, though? Extra-special “dates” with each them.  Ever since the school year started, Baby Girl and I share a weekly lunch at a neighborhood Asian-fusion restaurant so she can eat her favorite dish, “Broccoli and rice, please. No chicken. Just broccoli and rice” as I enjoy a delicious cup of wonton soup and side dish of steamed mixed vegetables. The Girl and I have our time together monthly on a Friday when we make our way home from one of her routine doctor appointments. We’ll stop for a treat—a dairy-free fruit smoothie in the warmer months and hot teas when the weather chills—and we just talk and talk in the van as I fight against the traffic from downtown to our home. (Or–confession time–sometimes we just crank up the music on her One Direction album to pass the time away.)

A couple of weeks ago, I started volunteering in The Boy’s Kindergarten Sunday School class. Ever since, we have started a new trend of sharing lunch together while The Husband and the girls have their own lunch together at home. It’s a win-win. Today was an especially good date with my only living son. He pulled out all his charms, asked for many hugs, even held my hand a few times! I’m not naïve, I know that these “dates” might one day too soon become more of a treat only for me and more of a chore for The Kids to attend. But just for today, I am grateful for them whether we are just spending an ordinary day together or heading out for an extra-special treat.

Today, I posted on social media that “I am grateful for weekly Sunday afternoon dates with my son. His sweet nature and joyful disposition are contagious.”  My hope is that my children never doubt how much I admire each one of them and appreciate their interesting company. I hope they never–not for one day–question the joy that their lives bring to mine.

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