The Biggest Gift We Can Give Our Children

Here I sit, thinking about what to write.  I thought about discussing anxiety, depression or behavior modification, but in the end, only one subject is in my heart at this moment…children and family.  I feel compelled to reach out to the other primary caregivers like me, whether you are a stay-at-home mom, working mom, stay-at-home dad, grandparent, aunt or uncle, you know who you are.  You are the primary person responsible for keeping your family running.  You know where everything is.  You have the family schedule down to a minute by minute breakdown.  You plan meals.  You sign the kids up for their activities and get them to said activities (Ever heard of mom’s taxi?).  You know the exact amount of time it takes your clothes washer to complete a cycle and you find yourself walking up to it just as it stops spinning so you can put in another load (because, let’s face it, there is ALWAYS another load of laundry to do).  You are the hub of the family.  You are exhausted.  No one really stops to thank you for what you do.  Sometimes you wonder if anyone even cares.  You love your family dearly, but you feel overwhelmed, overworked, and unappreciated.  It is at these moments, we behave at our worst.  We yell when we don’t mean to.  We have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and our children, and then feel guilty when none of us meet those expectations. We get caught up in the “shoulds” of life.   In short, we become a version of ourselves we don’t like.

I am here to tell you that it does not have to be this way.  I have thought about what I want for my children.  I want the normal stuff, of course.  I want them to be happy, successful, educated, and kind.  I want them to have big dreams and go after those dreams with me cheering the loudest.  But, most of all, I want my children to look back on this time and remember that I was never too busy to play Candyland.  I always listened to their stories.  I wanted to know how their day was.  I want them to say, “My mom loved us more than washing clothes, cleaning house, or doing the dishes — she loved spending time with us.”  Our kids don’t need the latest and greatest toys, fancy electronic gadgets, or a large video game collection…they need our time.  Our time is the biggest gift we can give our children.  In the absence of positive attention, our children will seek any form of attention, and that includes negative attention.  They act out more.  They are more oppositional, more defiant, and more aggravating in order to force us to pay attention to them.

Remember, actions always speak louder than words.  We can say we love them, but we must show them.  Even now, I see some laundry piled on the floor that needs to be washed, dishes that need to be put away, and a toilet that is, let’s just say, less than clean.  (In my defense, I am potty-training a 2 ½ year old.)  HOWEVER, I am going to put this computer away and go make blueberry muffins with my four kids that will result in a huge mess that I probably won’t get cleaned up very well at least for a few days, and I am not going to allow myself to feel guilty about that.

-Aimee Golden, EdS, LPC, NCC

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