In light of today’s holiday, I wanted to share something on the topic of Family. I tossed around several ideas, and even wrote half of a blog on one, but it just wasn’t going anywhere really. So here’s what I want to talk about today: what is the greatest gift I can give to my family?
Now I don’t know what you’re like, but I absolutely love, and I mean LOVE to pick out presents for my family. I love to think of their personality, their likes, their dislikes and what makes them unique…and then I shop like a madwoman…I’m talking like Indiana Jones-style treasure hunting…at Christmas it gets really bad…like, last year for example the hunt started in October (isn’t there a movie title something like that “The Hunt for Red October” or something?), but truth be told, the first item purchased was actually in August. (yikes) I just can’t wait to see the expressions of surprise, happiness, and excitement on their faces when they rip into it and have their miiii-i-n-ds bl-o-wn. (I wish you could hear the way that sounded in my head…I tried to spell it out for you to catch but I apologize if it just looks like I’m incompetent…I promise I’m *mostly* not).
Anyways, where was I? Right…gifts. So yeah, it’s like a continual hunt when I’m out and about…”oooh…so and so would really like that….wouldn’t that make a lovely Birthday/Christmas/Just Because gift”? But here’s what I’m finding; while these gifts are always great in the moment – the memories of them don’t tend to last far beyond then. Take Valentines, for example, when the kids received their little gifts I was the World’s Best Mom, but now that they’ve all been eaten, lost, or broken (yes, sadly it only took less than a week) do they really remember all the “stuff”? Not so much.
I’m not really sure what goes on in my mind that causes me to believe that because I spent time searching the whatever-it-is out that they will recognize that sacrifice and be honored by it…maybe that’ll change when they’re teenagers but I have a strong feeling that that’s not quite the case. As I’m sure you’re already aware, our kids don’t really notice the time we spend cooking or cleaning or shopping for them when they’re busy playing; but what they do notice, is the time that we don’t spend with them when they are present, the times that we’re too tired to play dolls, or hockey, or blocks, the times that we’re too busy to sit and read or color, and the times that we seem more interested in our phone than in what they’re trying to show us (more on that here: The Day my Cell Phone Died).
I know it’s a tall order because we’re busy and we’re tired…as parents, I think we’re always tired…secretly I tell myself that there will be a day when that will all change and I’ll catch up on all those years of sleep…I might be delusional, but this I do know…if we really want to give our families a great gift – we’ll give them ourselves…our love…our time…our presence.If we really want to give our families a great gift - we'll give them ourselves. Click To Tweet
Now before you get ticked off at me for adding yet another “to do” to your long list, or you think I’m here to shame you into being a better parent…just hold on. Because the truth is;
In order to give of ourselves, we first must give to ourselves. We can’t expect to have enough fuel to give to others if our own tanks are on empty.
So here’s a few questions for you to ponder:
- Are you loving yourself and receiving love?
- Are you making time for the things that bring you joy and refreshment?
- Are you giving yourself the gift of God’s Presence? (more on that here: When Rest Isn’t Enough)
If you can confidently answer yes to those questions, then you will be much better equipped to give of yourself…because you will be giving out of your overflow…not out of frustration and weariness…running on fumes so-to-speak. I think giving of yourself will at most times be a sacrifice, because by nature, human beings are selfish, but it’s important to remember that,
when you give of yourself, you’re not only meeting an immediate need of another, but you are also making a long-term investment in your family which can yield a good return long into your child’s teen and adult years.
If you feel like you’re already giving yourself time and giving of your time and are still getting frustrated, try a few of these tips to help you get started:
So although that half an hour of playing dolls can sometimes seem like an eternity, or you’d rather scrub toilets than have to play Monopoly one more time, and although the thought of just giving a gift or a treat can often seem so much more appealing; keep in mind the greater goal, and if you need extra incentive, just sneak a peek at the smiles on their faces…and that should help.
PS: While I geared most of this towards connecting with your children, feel free to apply it to your marriage as well! 😉
Thank you to Astrid Mueller at astridmueller.com for the pretty Free Watercolor brush stroke shown above! Be sure to check out her lovely site.