It’s Christmastime! The holiday lights are beginning to appear on houses in our neighborhood, Christmas trees are going up, and Christmas music is playing in every store. I am not one of those people who go nuts with the festivities, but I think it’s safe to say that this is my favorite time of year.
It is, however, an extremely busy season…especially this year. In addition to all the regular schooling and household duties, I have gotten more involved in my church’s Christmas drama, helping to write and direct in addition to acting. My little photography business has also kept me busy this fall with a few more family photo shoots than usual.
Then with travel for Thanksgiving, gifts to purchase, blog posts to write (heh)…let’s just say that while I usually have a fairly relaxed personality, my children have probably seen a good deal of the drill sergeant in me lately.
When there is a mountain of tasks to accomplish, it can be frustrating enough to have a child struggle over a concept in their schoolwork, requiring you to take extra time to walk them through it when you were hoping to go work on something else. Proper education is important, however, so you make sure to prioritize that. Fifteen minutes later, done. You’d like to get back to that project, but of course that’s difficult with a little destructo boy running around the house. So as a compromise, you take the little one outside to expend some energy while you sit on the patio and answer a couple emails on your phone. Might as well kill two birds with one stone, right?
There’s just one problem…The little one doesn’t want to run around and play in the yard by himself. The little one wants to sit in the swing, and you have to push him. No, he doesn’t want to play in the sandbox…No, he doesn’t want one of his sisters to push him…It must be the swing, and it must be Mommy. If he is being particularly picky, you are not allowed to stand behind the swing and check your email with one hand and push with the other, either…You must stand in front of the swing for a more interactive experience. No multi-tasking allowed!
This is the situation in which I have found myself quite often in the past month or two. On the positive side, it means that I have succeeded in getting my children to do more playing outdoors…But rather than keeping the kids busy while I try to do a little work or take a few minutes to relax, it often turns into something that requires my full attention.
With all the other things I need to get done, it seems wasteful to be doing nothing but standing in place and shoving a swing back and forth. I mean, at least sitting and reading a book would be somewhat educational! What good does this do, and why is it so important that I be the one to do it?
Well, as I was mentally grumbling to myself about this one day, it suddenly hit me. It’s not really about the swing. It’s not even about the Mommy attention necessarily, since there are some times where he is content to let me do nothing but push him in silence. It’s simply about being with him, giving him my presence. It’s the same reason that my very active boy will sit on my lap for a full episode of Mighty Machines. It’s not that I’m doing anything particularly entertaining…He just likes to be with me! As a “quality time” person myself, I’m not sure why it took me so long to understand.
Frankly, I really shouldn’t complain…It’s pretty nice to be able to just cuddle with my toddler on the couch as we watch a movie, or take a moment to watch the clouds and rest my brain as I continue the motion of a swing. In a world where we are constantly on the go or have our faces glued to our computer screens and smartphones, most of us could probably use a little more of this anyway!
But beyond that, I think our mere presence in our children’s lives is more influential than we may realize. It may seem insignificant, but our presence communicates that we love our children enough to give them our time. It gives them a sense of stability. It shows that we are available, which may open the door for important conversations and deeper relationships down the road. So while I continue to work on all my various responsibilities, I am trying to remind myself to make it more of a priority to give my children the gift of my presence. Perhaps they will get more out of this gift than anything we may put under the tree this year!
Photo Credit: All images courtesy of Jessica Cole.