The Most Needful Thing This Summer: Us
Summer time and school break are here. And my very official Facebook research tells me that moms are either celebrating or dreading this fact.
I often think of summer time as the best and worst of a circus. One moment we are entertaining our butts off keeping everybody happy and giving them THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH! The next moment things are dissolving into chaos, the elephants are lose, the tent is falling in, and there’s nothing to eat in the house except stale popcorn.
We all want to be with our kids in theory, but it’s not always great fun, especially when there’s arguing, complaining, and regular cries of “I’m bored!” Sometimes, the presence of people who need you so much is bone wearying. And yet we are the ones that they really need.
I was reminded of this last night when I had the great privilege of seeing an aerialist perform. It was in my backyard, on a swing hung from a tree, and my 6 year old was the performer. We watched and clapped as she swung and twirled and stood on the swing on one foot and hung upside down, every move named something like “The Funny Dog” or “The Flying Bird.”
This part of our yard is also our dogs’ favorite place to do their business. So it’s really not my favorite place to be. But a ratty towel was laid out for us to sit on. So we did, stand on it.
I saw the joy on my daughter’s face, and I thought of all of the years in the past that I strived to create a certain environment I thought was best. All of the years I tried to make everything go a certain way, a right way, to be successful as a parent.
I emphasized method over presence.
In reality, they just want us.
And let’s be honest. Sometimes that is the hardest thing to give. Us.
We are busy. We are spent. We are wearing many hats at once.
It’s so much easier to give a device or a lollipop or a playpen. (And I’m not knocking any of those things as they may keep you sane some days.)
But, sometimes when our 2 year old whines a lot, they are just needing more attention from us.
Sometimes when our 6 year old says “Watch this! Watch this! Now watch me spin!” and it all looks the same to us, they are just wanting us to admire them.
Sometimes when our 10 year old pulls away and declares no more hugs, it’s a deep cry for love, maybe with a different expression. But they still have the same needs for affection as the little ones.
Sometimes when our teenager sighs or argues for the 20th time in the day, it is not coming from a rebellious heart but from a place of needing our respect or a listening ear.
Let’s just consider this summer, that the greatest of all summer activities is not likely to be summer camp or music lessons or playdates. It’s going to be the random, quiet moment that you give your kid to spill their guts or to lean on your arm or to look into your eyes. A card game. A walk.
It’s going to be the selfless moments, that might be hard for us, that we chose to just be there for them. It need not be perfect, at all. It just needs to be us.
That’s what they need most of all.
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If you like this piece, next week I will be releasing a short ebook called “The Good Mom”, a manifesto for every mom who is weary of striving and searching for worth. If you want to be notified when it’s launched, just join my email list below.