This Christmas my daughter`s wishlists consist of a few toys and my eldest has asked for some electronics and typical teenager things.
Santa will do his best to work his magic and make that happen for them.
After all, they have been “nice” this year.
However, I’m also going to give them some presents this Christmas that I can’t buy.
Although the girls didn’t specifically ask for these gifts, my heart knows they need these gifts.
In fact, last weekend when my daughter and I went on a much-needed mother-daughter date it was so evident to me how important it is to reconnect with each of them.
The gift of presence
You may have seen this quote circling around social media since the beginning of December, “Give the gift of presence this year”.
Although our children would never ask for this type of present, it is the number one gift we can give to our children.
A few weeks ago while I was watching my daughter at swim lessons. Actually, in all honesty, I was half watching, half looking at my phone.
I thought to myself, Sweet, I have an hour to do some work while she’s in lessons.
On our way to the car after her lessons, my daughter’s response when I asked her if she had fun was, “It was good, but… You didn’t watch me! Next time, don’t bring your phone!”
In that instant, my heart dropped to the floor.
She was right.
I wasn’t watching her.
Clearly, she noticed and wanted me to watch her.
I suddenly had one of those I feel like a very bad mom moments.
In the past, I used to watch my other daughters during lessons the entire time. Heck, I even had the big, clunky camcorder out while my first daughter was in her swim lessons capturing every moment.
So, why wasn’t I being present with my last daughter?
My baby girl.
I looked down and was holding the answer in my hand.
It was because of my Smartphone!!!
They didn’t exist then.
We didn’t have any other choice but to simply watch our children.
Now we live in a multi-tasking society, which makes it hard to stay present.
I talked to some other moms about my guilt after my daughter’s comment and their response was, “It happens all the time. My kids are always telling me to look up from my phone.”
This incident, however, isn’t the first time I haven’t been present with my daughters.
For example, my teen daughter talks super fast to me in the car while I’m driving from one lesson to the other, and I don’t entirely always hear everything she is saying. I mean, I’m trying to focus on the road, and listen to her speak. She sounds like the character Six, from Blossom.
Do you remember her?
She was Blossom’s friend that spoke super fast. You could only get the first and the last word.
Well, that’s my teenage daughter for you.
There have been times she tells me a story super, super fast and then at the end, she responds with, “Did you even listen to me?”
Although I tried to listen, I obviously didn’t try enough, because I didn’t fully hear her story. In these moments, I look at her face with so much guilt and reply, “O.k, I heard the first and the last part.”
I can see the disappointment on her face. It’s disappointing to hear that she spent all of this time telling me the latest funny thing or drama at school and I lost her after the first couple of words because my thoughts wandered.
Where do I have to be next? Hmm, I just heard her say that her friend called herself a pizza face, maybe I should make that a blog post? Oh crap, what time is it? I’m going to be late to grab Nyomi.
What I should be doing in these moments is look my daughter directly in the face, ask her to slow down her words and show her that I’m listening.
That being said, my gift to my girls this Christmas and for the new year is to give them more of my presence.
Not my multi-tasking, half -listening presence.
But my fully listening, fully engaged presence.
They may not put this on their wishlist, but my heart knows they need this present from me, more than they need anything Santa can bring them.
Do you have something you want to give to your children this year that money can’t buy?