I’ve always heard that kids spell love as “T.I.M.E”. And I get it. They need us to be around. They deserve to have us witness their journey. They need us to be there to hug them when they are hurting, to cheer for them when they perform and to show them how we do this thing we call life. If they never see us who are they learning from? People on social media? Yikes. Not making time to show up to their games and not being there to take pictures for prom…it’s big stuff. It affects them.
And…I’m boldly submitting that being connected is even more important than showing up…being truly connected and present when we are physically present is priceless to kids. No matter what their age. I was really good at being physically present and at the same time, completely disconnected. I was the Brownie leader, carpool driver, home every moment I wasn’t working. Yet was I really there? I was thinking of other things as they talked to me, texting while they told me a story, going to the game and not paying attention…in fact, many times my kids have said, “Did you really see me make that shot or were you on your phone?” Guilty as charged.
So what I wished I had heard a long time ago was this…
Do your best. If you don’t have time to attend all of their games, they will survive. And it might teach them that they are extremely important and still not the center of the Universe. Let go of the guilt. If you can’t be home when they walk in the door after school, they will survive. (Selfishly, I love being there for that experience, so I designed my life that way. Yet if I hadn’t, I would be no less of a Mother and they wouldn’t become anything less than awesome people.) Going home without Mom there for two hours just might teach them self-reliance and independence. If you can’t be a volunteer in the classroom, let alone the president of the PTA, they will be just fine. If you’re up to your eyeballs in bills and work obligations, find stolen moments and connect. Your kids will treasure that far beyond hours of empty hang-out time.
I’ve shifted. I’ve let go of the guilt. I am committed to creating connection with them when I am there…looking into their eyes, holding them, listening…like truly listening. Asking them about their life…about their experiences.
Love can be spelled many ways…there’s no right or wrong here. We’re doing a great job. Being a parent is the most noble and the most difficult job on earth. Every day is a new day. A clean slate.