"Come here, baby," I whisper. He's three and not my baby anymore, but I can't shake the habit.
He comes, unsure. I have spent the morning speaking words of frustration and anger and annoyance; what do I want with him now? But I pull a blanket onto my lap and beckon him forward. A grin transforms his face and he climbs up. We sit together, snuggling, whispering, apologizing, forgiving, giggling. Reconnecting.
He wants down now, ready to go play, spirits high and sense of security reinstated. I catch the older one's questioning gaze and lift up the corner of the blanket in invitation. He, too, grins his acceptance. I kiss his hair and shift to make room for his long limbs, grateful that six isn't too old to curl up on my lap. Again, we take a few minutes for whispered reconciliation and reconnection; again, we end with giggles and a renewed sense of tenderness and camaraderie.
* * *
It had been a rough morning. Too little sleep, too many arguments, too much whining and yelling. There had been spilled milk and spilled paint and spilled tears when my own reactions were too big for the moment. Sometimes those days happen.
But there it was, a simple moment of reconnection, a deliberate choice, and our day turned around. Frustrations still arose but we handled them with more grace, connection reminding us that we're on the same team rather than working against each other. When I choose peace, they soon follow close behind. When I choose love and gentleness, they do the same. I cannot expect from them what I refuse to do myself.
And always, always, that moment is there when needed, ready to reset the course of the day. I only need to choose it.