cafe mama

entering the mind of the married mom

attention deficit disorder - September 4, 2005

News flash: I've been feeling guilty lately. Oh, right, I always feel guilty. Well, this week's guilt (in part) stems from a little thing called "attention." Namely, that attention bestowed from me onto my son.

I've come up with a theory these past few weeks - that attention deficit disorder truly describes something entirely other than what we think it describes. It's not the children that have a problem paying attention. No, no, it's the parents.

When you think about it, it kind of makes sense. After all, children act up to get attention. When they are acting up, they have a hard time paying attention - in class, to the rules, to their own safety. When we spend a lot of time one-on-one with Everett (and all of the other factors are in control - tiredness and hunger, mostly), he's fantastic; sweet, helpful, polite, smart, happy. When I ignore him, even for an hour or two, I get screaming, and sitting on his brother, and throwing things at me, and then comes the battle of wills. I threaten punishment, he does whatever it is I've said will garner punishment, I'm forced to follow through. He spends time in his room screaming, and gets even less positive attention.

While I'm far from perfect, and if I end up getting the full-time job of my dreams, I'll be even less so, I've committed to spending at least two hours of computer-free attention to Everett every day. It's unfortunate that these usually have to be shared with his brother Truman - but lucky for me, I'll have so many more options to photograph those beautiful faces.

I'm also considering having "computer vacations" on Thursdays until I get a job - no email, no internet, no blogging from the time we leave for preschool 'til Daddy gets home from work. So far, these have been working well for me - but they can get a bit expensive, because after all - when I'm not at the computer, I have an urge (which Everett shares) to be at a coffee shop.

It's a delicate balance, difficult to achieve, but brilliant if I can make it work. Can I be a more present mama? Even without yoga?