Have you ever met someone that was only in your life for a moment, but in that brief moment they were able to say or do something to positively impact your life. I had such an opportunity recently at a conference. There was one woman that I sat next to throughout most of the conference. During lunch,dinner and breakout times,we had the opportunity to talk about our husbands and kids. In one of our conversations she said: “I am making a concerted effort to be present in my relationships, especially when it comes to my kids. When they are talking to me, I have to stop and make sure that I see the whites of their eyes. No more texting or working or watching TV during the times that I am supposed to be spending with my kids.” That sent a chill up my spine because it hit home.
I only have a few hours a day to spend with my kids. I spend 2.5 to 3 hours with them in the mornings and then they go to daycare. After work, there are no more than 4 to 5 hours to spend with them before bedtime. So why would I spend any of that time working, or searching the web, or looking at Facebook, or talking on the phone, or watching TV. It beats me.
But I have to admit that I went through a period where I was not giving my kids my un-divided attention in the evenings. I was working or taking conference calls or just plain busy doing other things. I was physically there…but I was far from present. The kids would walk up to me and say mommy can I do this…and I would answer…And sometimes I did not even know what I was agreeing to. This had to stop.
My husband and I talked about my work situation and we prayed about it. We both agreed that I would tell my manager that I had to move off of my current assignment. I could no longer work on a project that required me to work in the evenings (my team was in Australia…totally different time zone with no overlapping business hours.)
This was risky, because in this current job market there was a good possibility that there was no other assignment for me to move to within my company. As always, God made a way and my manager found another project for me almost immediately. Now, when I shut off that computer at the end of the work day, it is off. And if I really must do some more work or if I want to search the web or mess around on Facebook, it has to be after the kids go to bed.
But work isn’t the only thing that can prevent us from being present for our kids. People are watching television, talking on the phone,or just claiming to be tired ” I worked all day now leave me alone.” And I can relate to being tired after work. When I get off of work, I would love to be able to grab something to eat, sit on the couch, and watch the nightly news and Access Hollywood. But that’s not possible. I have four children that need my undivided attention and my energy for a few more hours.
As Rev Run says in his book Take Back your Family, you have to : “Be A Beast For Your Family.” He received this inspiration to be a beast from Will Smith’s example : After a long day of shooting, Will Smith returned to his trailer only to find a group of kids waiting outside. Although his body was aching and he was tired from working all day, and it was dark and raining, Will found the strength to go back outside of his trailer to see his fans. He found the strength by telling himself that “I’m a beast.”