I spend a lot of time with my kids.
An OBSCENE amount of time with my kids.
I help my kids with their schoolwork. I take my kids grocery shopping. My kids and I go to church together. We have meals together. They’re there when I watch TV. They’re there when I’m sorting the laundry. They’re there any time I’m watering the plants, and smuggling a snack, and going to the bathroom, and brushing my teeth, and blinking my eyes, and taking a breath.
Understand that I do not exaggerate: My kids and I are ALWAYS together.
(And, of course, as a result of this, I often find myself craving a little alone time, that me time everyone’s always talking about.)
So, when one of my boys broke down about a year and a half ago and announced through sobs that he “missed” me, I really didn’t get it. How on earth could my child possibly miss me when we’re scarcely ever apart?
“Buddy, we’re together all the time,” I quickly explained. “You’re lucky, actually. You should be thankful and appreciate the time we have together.”
I said this several times to my son as patiently as I could but he just didn’t seem to accept my response. I didn’t know how to say it any more clearly. I actually found myself getting frustrated and, by the end it all, defensive.
But then, finally, something clicked in my brain. Suddenly the hard truth of it all became perfectly clear . . .
Caught up in a continuous spiral of doing chores, and running errands, and getting this done, and getting that done, and checking this box, and checking that box—I had somehow neglected to take a step back and genuinely connect with my son.
I’d forgotten to take a few moments and ask about HIS day. I’d forgotten to tell him how proud I was of him. I’d forgotten to make time to do something special with just him. I’d forgotten to ask him what HE would like to do. I’d forgotten to set aside the laundry and the dishes and all I was trying to accomplish, and just look into the eyes of my child. Instead, unfortunately, I had already determined in my mind that I’d spent enough time with my kids, and it was about time to do something for ME.
Through no one’s fault in particular, I’d started taking that precious time together for granted.
Yes, my kids and I were together in the literal sense, but we were no longer connecting with each other personally.
You know, these days with my kids are crazy and busy, there’s no doubt about that.
And a little me time is certainly welcomed occasionally.
But what I’m learning is that it’s also imperative to step away from the chaos every once in a while, un-busy myself, and look my kids in the eyes and engage with them on a deeper level.
I think our kids crave that.
And I’m confident, too, that our relationship will only be strengthened in the sweetest way because of it.
Originally published on the author’s Facebook page