Real Life Mama: Stop, snuggle and soak it all in

She follows me around everywhere and talks my ear off. She stops me in the hallway if I seem rushed or frazzled and tells me that I need a “Reagan hug.” And every time she does that, I always do. She reminds me to stop, slow down and rest for a minute.

She will say, “Mom,” a million times in a row – to show me what she can do, or watch a video she likes, or, just for no reason, to remind me she loves me. Because I always remind her how much I love her. She’s always reminding me how much I love being a mom. She’s my little bestie.

I got a new robe for Christmas – she confiscated my old one. She wears it around the house like I wear mine or cuddles with it at night. Sometimes, she puts water in one of my favorite coffee cups and sips it right along with me. She will grab my favorite blue spray and clean off the counters for me if they are messy. And she loves to soak in a bubble bath – just like me.

She started a morning routine – her Reagan time – where she gets down on her knees and prays. I didn’t outwardly tell her to do it – I didn’t even recommend it to her. But it matches my mommy time – where I read my morning devotionals and then get down next to her bed and pray with her.

She constantly watches me. She wants to be just like me. And there is nothing more flattering in the world than that. Maybe one day in the next couple of years, she will decide that I am not very cool and all of that will change. But for now, she is impressionable.

When I am upset, she comforts me in the same way I pour into her when she is down. If I am stressed, she watches me – my next steps, my actions, my tone. Then she mimics all of that when she gets stressed. Right down to the tears I may have cried or the anger I may have spewed out in my moment of stress.

She sees it all. Every single thing.

All of my good – and all of my bad. In my victories, she is my biggest cheerleader. And in my messes, she is still soaking that in. And while quitting drinking was definitely in part to be a better mother for my kids, I don’t think I realized it as much as I have in the past year just how much my kids soak up.

And there’s no hiding it from them – any parts of it. It’s not like social media where you can just present your best self to your followers and feel good about all the things you aren’t sharing. Oh no, motherhood is real and raw and the complete picture. I can’t delete something I didn’t want to say or skip over a time where things didn’t go the way I wanted them to go. There’s no algorithm to what they will or will not see – they see it all.

Even if I think I am doing a good job of hiding it. Even if I try to shelter them from things I don’t want them to see. Even if it is not today or tomorrow, it will click eventually – they will put the pieces together and figure it out.

And I think I forget that as a parent sometimes – just the amount of impact I have on my babies. The “do as I say not as I do” sentiment comes out and I continue on with my selfish ways and hope they do not do the same one day. But I will tell you this, I am working on it.

It has never been more clear to me than in the past year of sobriety how much I am handing out ways to communicate, find joy, cope and love for them to grab onto and make their own. From the way they settle the dog to the way they handle a missing shoe. From the way they apologize for mistakes to the way they snuggle in for forgiveness. From the way they break down when they are tired to the way they get down and pray. They are soaking it all in, making it theirs and squeezing it all out.

The other night, I offered 10 more minutes of screen time to Reagan so I could get some things done. She looked up at me, smiled and said she would rather have 10 minutes of cuddles with me than 10 minutes of screentime. My heart melted – thankful for the times that I put my phone down upon their request – and I snuggled up next to her and soaked it all in.

Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her daughters and writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.