Parenting

Time is Love

“Mom, Mom, Mahhh-ahhm,” my littlest son tugs on my shirt, saying these words to get my attention.  Granted we’ve worked on proper ways to get me to stop what I’m doing {pulling shirts and repeating my name were not in the mix, I promise}, but he occasionally resorts to this when I don’t look up from what I am doing to answer him. 

I have vowed to be a hands-free mom, available to my children, not letting my phone or computer take more of my attention than they do.  Still, there are times when I get caught into something more fascinating and compelling than the immediate desire or need they have for my presence.  What happens?  They incrementally nudge me until they finally get me to drop what I am doing and give them my eyes and ears. 

In all fairness, I’m with them non-stop.  They get a lot of me.  I home educate, and that means (up until this year when my oldest went off to public school) they get me all day, every day.  Sometimes I just need some “me-time” and that means I engage in texting for five minutes, check my FB feed or put on an audiobook while I cook.  It’s fair and it’s healthy.

The trouble isn’t the occasional “shut out the children so I can refresh myself.”  The problems come when they haven’t had enough of me.  If I’ve been away for a workday or out at night for a ministry or busy with too many to-dos that I allowed to creep to the top of the priority list, they let me know by seeking my attention in very noticeable ways.

They’ll settle for my attention, but their hearts are craving my love.  We all have a deep, God-given need to feel loved.  For children, time spent together is the highest form of love.  That time can’t be divided if it is going to really count deep-down in their soul. 

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You know.  It’s like when you finally have time with your husband and you are pouring your heart out to him about a frustrating or meaningful situation and he is listening, but flipping channels, sorting mail, or pulling the classic, “Uh huh, uh huh … uh huh,” responsive listening with this glazed look in his eyes until finally you say, “Did you hear what I said?”.  It just doesn’t count, does it?  It only counts when he stops what he is doing and gives you himself – lock, stock and barrel.  Then you feel you are loved.  Our children are the same – times ten.  It doesn’t count if we are folding laundry and our mind is on our gardening project while we “listen” to them.  They want us to set it all aside and be present.

One of the highest compliments Jesus pays anyone comes when he tells Martha that her sister, Mary, did the only needful thing.  She was sitting at His feet listening to what He said.  Martha was distracted.  Mary was not.  Mary was sitting and listening with an undivided heart.  That’s the way to show love.  We drop our distractions, we fix ourselves on our beloved and we are fully present with them.

I’ve given this some thought.  I’m not where I want to be in this department.  I find myself acutely aware of the short distance between birth and launching into adulthood for each of my children, yet sometimes the days feel a year long each.  Even though I savor our life together, I can fritter time and end the day feeling like I didn’t invest properly or slow down enough to really let them know how much they mattered.

Jordan on Morro Mountain 2014 Paul in Grass 2014

I realized in my heart that I want to …

  • laugh with each of my boys every day
  • give them big mamma hugs and snuggle as long as they’ll let me
  • sit still and listen to what is on their hearts and hear about their dreams
  • stop what I’m doing to observe them as they do whatever makes them happy: playing piano, being with friends, creating art, thinking through ideas …
  • be in the front row of the bleachers of their lives, with a big obnoxious sign that says, “Go!  I’m here watching and you are awesome!”

So, I’m making choices.  I need to look objectively at what takes time in my life and what competes for my heart and my time.  It isn’t enough to want to make room for what matters.  I have to plan and carve out space in our life together.  I must resist the pull of whatever interferes with loving my boys well.  I need to lay out my days and weeks to include many layers.  My own needs come into play (as they should).  Committed time alone with God, my responsibilities around our home and commitments out in the world need to be included.  Yet, as I plan, I must make time to be completely and utterly available to each of my boys.  It can’t only be time spent teaching or working on habits.  We need special time, without agenda – just for us.

God must be at the apex of my life, His presence and my life with Him permeating into all aspects of what I do and where I go.  He has given me only a few irreplaceable roles in life.  No one else will be mom to my boys.  My husband will never have another wife as long as I have breath in this body. 

My friends have other friends.  My parents have other children.  My job has other employees.  My church has other servants.  Those roles all matter a great deal, but not one of them are as exclusive as the titles of mom and wife.

I'm the only mom my children will have. I commit to live out my love in ways they can feel it. Click To Tweet

Time.  It’s a precious and limited commodity.  Time given is love.  I’m all about lavishing undivided time on my children so they walk out from this place called home knowing one thing deep down to their bones – they are loved.

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Paola Collazo
    January 27, 2016 at 9:03 PM

    Bravo! Amen!!

    • Reply
      Patty
      January 28, 2016 at 2:38 PM

      One big hug. That’s what I’m saving for you if we ever meet in real life … or when we finally meet in heaven. Thanks, Paola.

  • Reply
    lynette
    January 27, 2016 at 10:59 PM

    So great Patty!

    • Reply
      Patty
      January 28, 2016 at 2:36 PM

      Thanks, Lynette. I’m so glad you popped by and that what I wrote blessed you.

  • Reply
    Christine Ang
    January 29, 2016 at 9:56 PM

    I love this so much! Thanks for reminding us! I took a bath with my 3 year old tonight and we took turns spraying each other with the water bottle! So fun!

    • Reply
      Patty
      January 30, 2016 at 10:02 PM

      Christine,
      You taught me “special time.” It’s something I need to remember and remember and remember. I want to give that to each of my boys in this season and every other. What is it we think is more important than this? It probably isn’t. We need to pause our day – set aside the seemingly daunting “to do” and “to teach” and just be with our children in ways that matter to them. Nothing will replace it and in no time flat there just won’t be these days to do this again.
      I love you, sweet friend.
      ~ Patty

  • Reply
    Heather B
    February 3, 2016 at 2:16 PM

    I loved reading this! What a great reminder of the beautiful roll we are called to play as mothers!

    • Reply
      Patty
      February 3, 2016 at 4:27 PM

      Heather,
      I’m so glad this inspired you and reminded you of the great value of our role. Thanks so much for letting me know. You are welcome here anytime. My next parenting series started today (on parenting our children’s personalities).
      Blessings.

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