I care only to accomplish things; Zack cares only to connect, to play, to laugh with me. Somebody has a lot to learn in this relationship.
So says another one of my posts on Facebook, accompanied by images of Zack laughing as he sits next to me on our living room couch. My goal was to read all the way through to the end of Green Eggs and Ham that day. Zack’s was to share the hilarity of Dr. Seuss with his mom. He could spend hours on the first few pages when Sam-I-Am makes his entrance. Especially when I put my best theatrical talent into the presentation.
Why do I want to finish the book? I already know that Dr. Seuss’s unnamed character finally tries the oddly-colored eggs and ham and discovers that he likes them; Zack knows it too. What makes getting to that last page better than thoroughly, and repeatedly, enjoying the page where Sam-I-Am and unnamed man catapult off the tugboat and land in the water with a loud splash and blub-blub-blub?
My To-Do List doesn’t get checked off by repeating one page ad infinitum. But if I can just get to that last page—even if it means wrestling the book from Zack’s grip and refusing to repeat his favorite phrases—I can mentally rest in the accomplishment.
And what then? Another book. And another. Does it somehow make me a better mom to have finished reading three books to my child that day instead of three pages? Or is it that finishing a book means I can do my own thing for a while, guilt-free because I have read an entire book to my son?
Where is the rule book for parenting? Where is the list for what it takes to be a perfect mom? How about just a good one? And does the list change when your child is a perpetual preschooler and you’ve been reading Dr. Seuss to him for 19 years?
Language is a means of connecting, and we were made for relationship. There is so much more shared between Zack and me while reading Dr. Seuss together than what is written on the page. There always is when reading to children. Whenever we wrap ourselves together with a blanket on the couch or cuddle up in bed before the lights are turned off, and we read, we are saying: You are so important to me that I want to spend time with you; You and I belong together; You and I laugh at the same jokes and feel sad at the same stories; You and I fit.
That’s a story we don’t ever want to end.