I share with you often about the things I've learned in this life. One more to add to the list is that time gives us the gift of opportunity that is only retrieved upon death, except, we do not know how much time is ultimately left. Because of this uncertainty, we must always cherish the time we are given, moment by moment, because it is the only way to be sure that our gift does not expire.
The gift of opportunity that time offers does not come with a warranty. The next day is not guaranteed. You are responsible for what you do with each moment of the time that you are given and, if you have not used your gift wisely, you can only hope that you'll get another moment to make it right. Like a moment to actually listen to your children.
It is so important to take time to listen. Just because you hear does not mean that you are listening. It is incredibly easy to become preoccupied with all the matters of day-to-day living, which can ultimately rob you of your gift of opportunity to sit with your child and to listen to her/him. A thought to consider is that the things that you have given all of your time and energy to -- jobs, bills, etc. -- will likely continue on even after you or your children have departed from this life. Will you waste your gift?
When you take time to listen to your child, you are not listening to only her/his words, but you are listening for her/his inner voice. The voice that holds the truth of what your child might be thinking, feeling, experiencing. You are listening to gain a connection with that inner person because when hollow words, mood swings, and certain behaviors that can come with adolescence and disguise this truth, it will take listening beyond the words that you hear to begin to be there for her/him. Sometimes you are listening just to savor the sound of your child's voice and to be grateful that you can still hear it.
Learn to be present. Just because you are there does not mean that you are present. Being present in your child's life has more to do with how in tune you are to and with her/him and much less to do with occupying the same space. It is about being a part of your child's life in a way that you are able to parent with perspective.
When you are present in your child's life, you understand her/his needs, strengths, weaknesses, and ways of communicating. Sometimes being present is in a gentle rub on the back when you notice a look of fear or concern on your child's face, or in a thumbs up that offers reassurance in a moment of doubt. Sometimes being present in your child's life is in supporting them with love and encouragement through both actions and words.
With the gift that time offers, rain checks are a gamble. You may not get another opportunity to listen and to be present.
Think for a moment about what would happen if suddenly, time halted and opportunity expired and you realize that the last moment you had with your child was the last one you would ever have to listen and to be present?
Hard to fathom.
Time offers you a gift, and it doesn't matter whether your child is 5 or 35. If you were granted another moment, then use it responsibly.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.