04 Mar Purposeful Parenting (Part 2): Pay Attention to Me!
As calendars go, do you feel like yours is packed? We’re all busy, aren’t we? High five, soul sister. I don’t like seeing a lot of empty of space on my calendar, either. In fact, I sort of relish the appointments, meetings, and after-school activities. If I’m being really, really honest I just feel more productive when there’s stuff to do, like I’m actually contributing to society or something.
A couple of years ago, my husband migrated all of us to Google calendar. Each of our personal calendars integrated with the master agenda. I resisted at first, and this is embarrassing, but if you must know I’ve kept every agenda, date book, and daytimer I’ve ever owned. They’re sort of like old-school versions of Facebook minus the funny cat videos and workout selfies. Those notebooks document the whole experience of my life. Smudged and crossed out and altogether messy, it’s all there. They say that the current generation is the first one that will have a documented, chronological history of their entire life. My parents used to call my babies “advanced” before they went to school and we all figured out they did pretty much everything on the same timeline as everybody else. For the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to say that I was a little advanced, too–what with my writing down all my “status updates” on paper and saving them and all.
The point is that all that writing things down helped me notice. It made me aware. And now that I have kids, I realized pretty much as soon as they started talking that one of their favorite sentences in the entire world was “Look at me.” They wanted someone to notice them. Just to be clear, I am not writing this post about purposeful parenting so I can tell you that you need to do a better job of documenting your kids’ lives. I have absolutely no moral authority to do that, given the fact that I have exactly three and a half unfinished Creative Memories Scrapbook Albums. (For a brief season shortly after my first of my four children was born, I had the delusional idea that I was a creative and organized person and could actually artfully paste photographs to beautifully designed scrapbook pages. It was a pipe dream, I tell you.)
I’m obviously an adult, but again, if I’m being really, really honest I like to be noticed too. I get a little extra spring in my step if somebody says they like my outfit or my kids are great or let’s just be real for a second–someone reads a blog post I wrote. It’s nice. And I don’t mean any of that in a braggy way, just in a down-to-earth, honest-to-goodness it’s-nice-to-be-noticed kind of way.
A couple of days ago, I was reading an article by a blogger I really like. Her words spoke to me that day. She was painfully honest about some things she was wrestling with in her own life, and those things touched a nerve with me. I could have read the post and moved on–(a.k.a. checked my calendar for the next big event (wink, wink) that was calling my name)–but I took a second and fired off a brief comment. Nothing too sentimental, just a thought I wanted to share. And lo and behold–she continued the conversation! It was such a little thing, but big, too. She read MY comment, and she took precious time from HER calendar to respond with a few heartfelt words.
And it made my day.
And all of a sudden I started thinking about relationships and how they start and how we foster them, and I thought, “Hey, I need to pay attention to my kids. I need to let them know that I notice them.”
- That when Christiana works hard at track practice, I say, ‘I’m proud of you for working so hard. You’re getting better everyday.’
- That when Gavin plays with his little sister, I say, “Hey buddy, thanks for spending time with your sister. It means a lot to her–and to me.’
- That when Aaron is toiling away on his next big business idea I fight back the urge to acknowledge the mess he’s making and instead admire his incredible work ethic and entrepreneurial spirt.
- That when Cari Jill asks me to write her a note and leave it in our special envelope, I’ll write something heartfelt rather than hurried.
Become a noticer. I’ve actually heard it said that it’s only the noticers that make the world better. What if for today, in this hard season of purposeful parenting that you’re in, you just focused on being a noticer, not because it would necessarily make the world better but because it would make your family better?