Taking my infant and toddler on a trip to Super Walmart was a whirlwind. Making a choice between 14 different shampoo varieties is harder for me when my 2 year old, Ava, asks her never-ending series of questions. She, literally, asked me 7 times in a row what was inside the box of eye drops in the pharmacy aisle. Strapped to my chest was my 2 month old, Bethany Lael, who was struggling to nap; interrupted by Walmart's many peripheral noises and Ava's endless conversations with me. Ava got most of my attention; probably because she can talk a lot and she can talk louder when she senses that I'm distracted by a lot of other things.
My wife, Sarah, teases me that I can't do more than one thing at a time. She should have seen me today. At one point I used one arm to pacify Bethany while the other arm handled:
- pushing and steering the cart
- picking up things Ava had dropped and
- selecting items off of the shelves.
A friendly Walmart employee summed it up well when she saw the three of us and said, "you sure do have your hands full!"
After all of that busyness we got home and I played with both girls before it was time to put Bethany Lael to sleep. I took her up to her room, swaddled her, inserted her pacifier and looked down at her face. She was staring right back into my eyes. She has blue eyes...and she hardly blinked. We looked at each other for a long time. While we were looking into each other's eyes, I realized I had been so busy with running errands, and taking care of her older sister, that I barely had spent time looking into her eyes and letting her know that she had my attention. Even though she couldn't speak, at that moment her eyes seemed to say, "Daddy, it really matters to me when we look at each others eyes." I realized that when I look at her eyes she will feel noticed. She will appreciate the fact that, in that moment, I'm choosing to focus on her out of the thousands of things that could have my attention.
I let myself linger in her room so that we could spend a lot of time looking into each others eyes. I wanted her to know that I enjoyed looking at her. I wanted her to know that I had time for her. I wanted her to know that her eyes were nice to look at. I wanted her to know that being in her company was desirable and worthwhile.
It seems like if I want to care for my daughter well, one thing that I can do is to spend a lot of time looking into her eyes and letting her eyes gaze back at me. I don't want to miss my daughter's eyes in the midst of my work, news headlines, hobbies, and social media.