I used to look at young single people with a little bit of jealousy. I’m certainly not old (I’m 28), but I don’t have the life of many people just years under me.
I have many roles. I am an at-home business owner. I am a mother of two. I am a wife, a feminist, a pet owner, and a housekeeper. I’m a researcher, an activist, and I love to knit.
Almost everything took a backseat when I had kids, though. My two daughters take precedence over everything else, which means I am not left with a lot that is just mine anymore.
I am still all of those things I listed above, but that can be difficult to remember. I try to hold onto those pieces of myself, but I’ve learned it’s not likely in this season of my life.
It becomes frustrating. We try to get it all done – but the reality is we can’t. We always make the assumption that we’re capable of doing more in a day than is possible, and we all live with the disappointment that comes from feeling like a failure.
Instead, I’ve decided to embrace what I can be.
What is that?
A strong and beautiful example for my children. A fierce and loyal wife. An advocate of others.
I can be all of these things, but we need to talk about influence for a minute.
We all hope that we can influence our kid’s in a positive manner. We do and say the right things and we hope they’ll make honorable decisions throughout their life.
The thing we often forget is that we’re also teaching them how to have healthy relationships with people. We’re teaching them the importance of people versus responsibility in their lives, and how they’re supposed to juggle everything.
We’re teaching them what it means to be present with others, and how to simply enjoy a moment.
I struggle with this. I try to multitask most things, and you used to be able to find me messaging in one hand, while playing with blocks with the other.
While at the time I was rather impressed with myself, I got to thinking. I was rarely (if ever) being JUST with my child.
I have to wonder what kind of message that sent. Did she KNOW she was more important than the piece of technology in my hand?
Did she ever feel like I listened to her?
Did she assume this was how you functioned in a relationship?
These are things we SHOULD be thinking about. Do our interactions with our kid’s mirror what we hope their interactions will be with others in the future?
If not, we need to change something.
The problem doesn’t only exist physically.
Even if I’m not doing active work, my mind is often in a faraway place worrying about work, bills, or some other grown-upy thing.
While this is especially common, it’s not good that it’s happening. We’ve gotten used to our minds being in a faraway place, and it’s preventing us from spending meaningful time with our loved ones. Not only are we failing on that front, but we’re also showcasing what a relationship should look like for our children.
Are we treating them the way we want them to be treated (and treat others?) If not, something needs to change.
I don’t think there’s a huge cureall action we can take to change this, but I do think there’s a small thing that if we start doing it, we’ll become better people. Better parents. Better friends.
And that’s making eye-contact.
Understand that distractions happen. Often more than 100 times a day for many people. Making eye contact can help reign us back in.
This is what I challenge you with.
The next time you’re alone with your child, give them the respect and love that comes from the gift of full attention and see how it works.