If you’ve ever studied or assessed Love Languages (as we have), you’ll know that one of the five ways people show and feel love is quality time: intentional moments spent focused on the people we love and care about. Long before the girls were born, I remember listening to a Focus on the Family talk on parenting. The speaker (whose name I can’t remember, sadly), explained that moments of connection with a child’s soul are precious and rare gifts to parents. These moments need to be anticipated and watched for. They become more rare the less frequently they’re actualised, and more prolific the more they’re engaged.
He described how a parent might be doing something completely arbitrary, such as making supper or washing the dishes. Your child wombles in, seemingly aimlessly, and strikes up a light conversation. All of a sudden, like a chink of sunlight through stormy, brooding clouds, the child reveals a sliver of his treasured soul – if you’re watching for it. Before you know it, the clouds have closed again. The dusk is back, the moment has passed. You’ve missed it.
But if you’re watching, always attentive to these windows into the innocence and depth within your darling, you have the most incredible opportunity presented to you. You have the inestimable privilege of connecting with another human being, of moulding a life. Of having an impact.
That talk really spoke to me, and I determined that, if I ever had children, I would always be on the look-out for these moments.
Since then, I have gotten this wrong so very many times, and parents reading this can no doubt attest to the same in their lives. For one thing, until three years ago I worked outside the home, and hardly saw them at all. Now, I know that a lot of working parents, with kids in school, see their kids as much as possible and have a rich and interactive relationship with them. I am a workaholic and missed many opportunities this way. Even now, I work full time and am not as available to them as I’d like.
But I am available. That’s what counts.
I know that more time with my darling daughters would be wonderful for all of us. But I also know that the time we have together counts. I watch keenly for those brief glimpses they allow me into the deeper recesses of themselves. I sometimes miss valuable treasure, but I have the privilege of being able to drop everything when I see an opportunity, and focus those few minutes on the child who needs me.
It’s a blessing!
So if you need to work full time, and you’re contemplating home education, and you can’t work out how to give everyone the time they need, perhaps this is the solution for you as well. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t get hung up on watching the clock, measuring the physical minutes you allocate each role you play.
Rather, focus on the task at hand, but keep your radar tuned in to pick up those brief and startling rays of light from the magical places inside your child. When you see the shimmer, don’t miss it. Figure out the best way to approach your child (and give yourself time to get this right), then patiently and kindly peek in through the window. Take a look at the precious gift of a growing person so generously, trustingly displayed to you. Admire it. Adore it. And gently, carefully, prayerfully, mould it just a little towards the wondrous potential you see lying within.
You’ll find that five thoughtful minutes can be worth a dayful of thoughtless hours. Enjoy them!