Your Presence is the Present

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I recently talked with a little girl who has two very hardworking parents. She is only elementary school age and is a really smart child. Most of our conversation was her going on and on about all the nice things her parents buy her. Another part of the conversation was about how nice of a house they have. She went on to basically say how they shower her with gifts and she spends most of her time playing with those gifts in front of the t.v. So I asked her what is her favorite thing to do, and she said hang out with her mom and dad but only one day a week are they both home all day so that is her favorite day of the week. The rest of our conversation was her talking about music, t.v., and school because she only had a few words to say about her time with her parents. But those were her most joy filled words.

My mind couldn't move past the moment of joy I saw her have when she talked about the time her mom and dad were both home. Those few hours of the week were more satisfying to her than every toy and every square foot of their home. That was a true gift to her, her favorite gift in fact. It reminded me how important our time with our children is for them. They are burning with a desire to know their parents and to learn from them. I can imagine it being difficult for two hard working parents to come home from long stressful days of work and want to play and hang out with their kids. So the t.v. and the toys will have to take their place. But our children can't suffer lack as the result of our pursuits of happiness. This little girl's parents said to me that they do it all for her, for all of their kids, so they may have nice lives. That is a very nice thought, but the reality is that our presence in our children's lives is the greatest present we can give them. We as mamas don't ever want to have to look at our daughters and say, "Who is she, where did she learn these things from?" The same for fathers and their sons. That is what will happen when we are so focused on our careers, schooling, everything outside of the home. Our children will be taught by t.v. and peers if we are failing to teach them ourselves. We want to know that we have invested so much of our time in our children and see the fruit of that, them reflecting us.  Filling our children's lives with stuff while turning our attention away will not lead to anything good. They will suffer from the neglect and one day be somebody we don't even know, doing things we cannot understand.
Imagine each child as a blank canvas that God has given you to paint on. This painting will be on display for the world to see and they will see it as a reflection of you. God has given you the choice to invest as much time, care, focus, and attention into this canvas as you want, but you only get it for a few years. When you are done and it is time for it to be taken away, it shows everyone who you are because of what it displays that you have done with it. Do you want this canvas to be full of scattered paint, showing the world you threw something on it here and there every now and then with no intentionally focused  time spent making it presentable? Or do you want that canvas to have a beautiful imagine on it, showing the world it was intentionally painted, cared for, and poured in to, reflecting your well spent time and love for it?
I know it isn't easy for the single mother stretched too thin, the married couple working to make ends meet, the single father doing his best. I don't think every woman should stay home and give all of her time to her children, nor do I think it is wrong to have successful time consuming careers. What I am saying is, be present. In the midst of it all, be present. Be intentional about pouring into your child's life. Turn the t.v. off, put the homework away, leave your work phone in another room, and be there. As a child of two very hard working and successful parents I can say, your presence is the greatest present you will ever give your child and the time with them is the most satisfying time you will give yourself.

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