Do Your Eyes Light Up When Your Child Walks In The Room?

Eyes Light Up

As they say, “Mommin Ain’t Easy” and is not for the faint of heart. And if it weren’t for my parents, who were thankfully masters of positive motivation and instilling in me a strong faith and healthy self-esteem, I might have been seriously messed up with unrealistic aspirations for being the perfect parent. That said, I do allow myself brief moments to feel inadequate about the relentless challenges of preparing regular healthy meals (versus succumbing to convenient, fast food offerings), reading to my children daily (versus letting the I-Pad read to them), or maintaining a clean house (versus the tornado that sometimes ensues)—then I quickly bounce back into reality with self-counseling about what really matters.

One of my other “saving graces” has been the single best piece of advice that I received about parenting over a decade ago before I was even married and had children of my own. “When your child walks in the room, do your eyes light up?… That’s what they’re looking for.” 

As I watched Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Toni Morrison, express this on an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show, it made an indelible impression in my spirit. She went on to talk about how when her children would walk into a room, she was so focused on making sure their belts were buckled properly, their hair was combed, or socks were pulled up. Sound familiar? She thought she was displaying her affection and deep love for them because she was caring for them—but all they saw was the critical face. She challenged the viewers to try to allow our faces to speak what our heart feels.

And so now, this is something I practice daily—especially first thing in the morning. Even when we’re running late, I love to wake my boys with a gentle enthusiasm in my voice and loud enthusiasm in my eyes! When I pick them up from school after a long day, when I would otherwise be too tired, I try my best to pull it together momentarily and show them how happy I am to see them. Although it sometimes comes with only a small grin and ‘Mommy had such a long day today, and I’m really tired, but I’m sooo happy to see you sweetheart’, I’ve found that it’s something that they look forward to. I complain about the fact that they’re often at school for up to nine hours, so even on days when I might be a bit distracted by a deadline or a never-ending to-do list, my heart is truly happy to see to them, and I want my face to show it. During extremely rare quiet moments when I’m finally able to sit down and glance at a magazine, and my boys come running around the corner to ask me a question or show me a cool trick, do I sigh in frustration or do my eyes light up with anticipation?

I quickly realized that this priceless advice not only pertained to my children but also my husband and all of the other people I care about. Although I’m not always successful, when my husband walks in the house after a long day, he appreciates it when I momentarily stop what I’m doing and greet him with “lit up eyes.” He understands that some days I’m feeling exhausted or defeated or just plain overwhelmed. But for that moment—he knows that he matters and that I’m happy he’s home.

So whether my children have cereal for dinner every now and then or if my long workdays force me to go through a drive-thru more often than I’d like, if my house isn’t always in immaculate order, and even if our budget sometimes won’t allow for the hottest new family excursion… I’m at peace. I’m at peace because I’m convinced that this is what matters most.

Jeanine Ferguson
Jeanine J. Ferguson is a Fort Lauderdale native who enjoys the beach life. After her husband’s career brought them to Jacksonville in 2003, she quickly fell in love with the beauty and charm of the First Coast. The joy of Jeanine’s life is being mom to two fun-loving, inquisitive boys, Cleveland IV (2009) and Jackson (2012). Passionate about all things fashion, including “New With Tags” finds and what she refers to as “Smart Style”, she’s also an avid DIYer and lover of photography. Jeanine is a proud Gator, receiving her undergraduate, masters, and specialist degrees from the University of Florida. After spending more than 10 years in regional/national sales and marketing roles for global medical device companies, in 2014 she accepted a position as the Marketing & Business Development Director for a local Jacksonville Medical Center. Jeanine also owns a Women's Online Clothing Boutique, Fourth & Jack, affectionately named after her sons. In her spare time, Jeanine enjoys spending quality time with her family, traveling, watching and attending culinary competitions, and honing her photography skills.


  1. I teach preschoolers and this is something that every teacher should read because I believe that it’s exsremly important to let children know how excited you are to see them. This immediate response of excitement could shape their entire day. Such a great read, can’t wait for the next one.


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