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Saturday, May 30, 2015

what I learned about life from showing up for my kids

This spring I've made it a priority to put my children first. I've always tried doing this, but lately it seems as they get a bit older there are more opportunities for me to show up and be there when it counts.

Earlier this spring my son was going on a field trip to an art show at a local school that I work with in my district. I surprised him. He was elated! He held my hand the entire time through that art show, all proud that his Mama showed up to go on the field trip.

It took an hour of my work day, and yet my son was on cloud 9 for days after telling everybody that I went to his field trip.


We've started the old T-Ball a few days a week process this spring also. So busy but so much fun. He's loved having all of that focus on him and all of us cheering him on from the sidelines. 


I've learned about life that sometimes this is what it means - you just have to show up sometimes. You just have to try your best, even if all you have is an hour in your day or a voice to cheer loudly. You have to just make that phone call to someone you have been putting off feeling like you didn't have enough time, just do it on your way driving somewhere perhaps. You have to focus on what matters, every single day, not let time pass you by before you realize you've missed out on a lot of important events, activities, moments.


I've learned lately that kids LOVE the small things. So many parents feel disappointed or sad when they can't always say yes in the grocery store to buying that toy or when they can't pay for one more lesson or activity because it's expensive. Yes, kids get disappointed here, too, but honestly, that's not what kids want.

They want our time.
They want US.

They want you to focus just on them, even for 5 minutes. They want you to be totally all about what they are interested in, as though it's the coolest thing you've ever seen or tried doing yourself.

They love one-on-one hugging and telling stories times.
They can't get enough of a bath on their own where you aren't rushing to just wash their hair but rather you are making up some awesome game with bath toy squirters and pouring in MORE bubbles!

Kids love when you truly saw them hit that ball or kick that ball or chase after that person in the game. They are so excited when you say more than "good job," but rather something specific about how well they did being kind, sharing, helping, working their muscles, trying their best, etc.

I've learned that it matters how specific you are with your compliments in life, and how finding something great that someone else does means something to them when you share how proud you are of them.


My daughter has been in a bowling class this winter and spring. She LOVED it! Bowling class? Who knew?!

She earned two trophies as part of this class. I had a crazy week at work that week when she earned the first trophy. That morning I'd told my babysitter who takes my daughter to bowling class that I wasn't sure I'd be able to make it, it was in the middle of my work day and I just didn't know if I could get away.

But then in the middle of that crazy week I realized what mattered - seeing my daughter earn her first trophy (even if she was 3 and might not remember it). It was important, special, awesome, and I wanted to be there.


I got more "I love you, Mommys" that day than ever before in 3 years of being her Mama. She knew how special it was that I left work in the middle of the day to see her earn her trophy. She felt special, supported, encouraged, admired. All things that if we get the opportunity, we should make sure we help others feel. How honored you can be to help others feel those great things.

Especially your kids.

They appreciate feeling that way the most.



I've learned about life that sometimes the little things don't seem as big until you're doing them and you realize how amazing those little moments truly are. That just means we need to be present, focused on what matters, ALL the time, or at least as much as possible, otherwise we'll miss those little moments and they'll pass us by quickly.

I've learned that it does not take a huge amount of time or effort or energy to make those little moments happen.



I've learned that sometimes we don't have enough money or enough time, but that showing up is what counts the most. Sometimes it's a hug, smile, high five, or congratulations that they want the most. We don't have to overdo it. We don't need to go overboard or spend a lot of money. We can just be there. Showing up is about being there when it matters, and when it matters is when you know a huge smile will be on her face after seeing you... that could be at almost anything, really.

That's what I know about life, that the small things that seem insignificant sometimes are what end up counting the most later on.



One-on-one "special time," as we call it in our house, is SO important, especially with multiple kids. I really focused on this when we had our second child. My first needed that individual time to feel special, like he mattered, like we had not forgotten about him when this new sibling came around. Three years post new sibling arriving, and we still make sure we give undivided attention at least 10 minutes at a time, frequently.

They LOVE it. And my husband and I love it also. Things get missed, overlooked, when they are together all the time. Your attention is split in half at least, so naturally things get sidetracked. When you are one-on-one you have those bigger conversations and notice the little things you'd missed before.


It doesn't have to be something large or busy to make a child feel that undivided one-on-one special time. Every single week we do special time in our son's room at night after his sister is in bed. He gets time in there with one of us to play his guitar, read stories, play in his tent, play with Playmobil figures that his sister doesn't play with, etc. and oftentimes it's literally like 15 minutes, but it's enough to make him feel so special.

It's the effort that counts in life, that's what I've learned lately. It's the time you put in, not how long it takes or how much you put into it as far as money and time goes. If all you have is five minutes today, then put in those five minutes, don't forego it just because it doesn't feel like "enough" time. Try to make more time another day, but if today you have five minutes, give your full effort, love, and attention in five minutes. It matters. It counts.


So often we moms have difficult days, long, tiring moments where we aren't sure if we can do more, give more, be more to our kids. It's HARD, this parenting journey, and honestly there are moments where I wonder, "Can I do this?!" I don't mean can I be a parent, of course I'm mom forever, but sometimes I wonder "Oh man, can I survive this awful phase or new behavior issue or patience?" And the answer is always YES. 

And it's yes because of one single thing: I show up. I arrive ready to do it, even when I'm not ready to handle it or tackle one more thing that day or moment. I still come and do my best as M-O-M. I put in the effort that is needed, even when I'm running on half-empty, I still do what I can. 

Because that's what moms do. We show up for our kids, now and always. We never give up.

It's a great motto for life: Show up and never give up. Do your best. Give what you can, when you can, but never stop. Be there. It matters. Your time, energy, love, presence MATTERS.

Hugs to you, mommas. 




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