There is an old english proverb that says “the eyes are the windows to the soul.” On my Becoming Momful Project, I had the opportunity this week to focus on making mindful eye contact with my children. In the “Eye Contact Meditation,” Roy suggests we “move out of ‘absence presence’ and take a breath to become fully present, bringing your mind and body together.” Absence presence is when we are there physically, but not mentally, emotionally or spiritually. Roy calls it being a “walking ghost” and comments how aware children are when we are absent.
When our children are babies we can’t take our eyes off of them, but the older they get, the less we make full eye-contact with them. I once read a study that gave the statistics of this phenomenon, and although I cannot find nor quote the specifics of the study, I remember being astounded at how seldom parents make eye contact with their elementary and teenage children. It was something like 4 times a day on average. There is research showing increased parent-to-child eye contact as significantly improving both the relationship and the child’s compliance with instruction/discipline.
This week I focused on intentionally making eye-contact with my children and experienced some of the most beautiful maternal moments I have known to date. It turned into a game with my 6-year-old daughter. An observant and relationally gifted girl, she noticed right away. When she caught me looking at her for longer than I might normally, she would turn and put her face right in front of mine…so close that our noses would touch and I could feel the breath coming in and out of her body. I don’t know why, but “I love you’s” seemed to spontaneously follow as well as full-frontal kisses. I saw things in her eyes I had not seen before. I wonder what she saw in my eyes. I hope it was love…because that’s what was flowing through every cell in my body in those moments.
The moment I shared with my 9-year-old son is one I will never forget. I have been on the team at his elementary school planning a kids triathlon as a fund-raiser and we (all three of us) had been training together on our bikes, at the park and with swimming lessons. My son was excited and really wanted to do well. Since I was volunteering elsewhere I didn’t see him cross the finish line, but when our eyes met afterwards as we walked toward each other I saw the most eager proud excited look in his eyes I have ever seen. His eyes were full of anticipation at my reaction. He had been helpful in setting up and knew this was important to me.
As he connected with me after his first triathlon he just radiated with joy. His freckled cheeks rose and rounded making the eyes sparkle. His smile was ear to ear. I reached out and placed both of my palms on his face in a loving embrace. I looked him square in the eye and with watery eyes myself told him I was soooo proud of him. He beamed the rest of the day as he and his sister proudly wore their metals around their necks.
I remember the feeling he experienced in that moment. The first time I did a triathlon I felt the same thing…a mixture of disbelief, relief, and a real sense of accomplishment. The rewards of combined effort and endurance are the real thrills in life–far better than those experienced on a roller coaster at an amusement park.
In these special moments of mindful eye-contact with my children, I saw myself in their eyes. I saw into the joy and beauty of their souls. What beautiful moments of momful connection. #Grateful.
My next momful quest will be even more fun…I get to watch them play and snuggle them!