by Jennifer Dyer
Yesterday, the girls and I headed out to run some errands on their day off from school. My cell rang. I felt eldest’s eyes on me as I picked up the phone and set it down again, without answering.
“Why didn’t you answer that?” she asked.
I shrugged, not wanting to make a big deal out of the situation. “Because I’m with you two right now. I want to make spending time with you a priority. That means letting other things go.”
She sighed. “I’m glad you do that.” (Yes, I was shocked at her approving tone, but even more by what she said next.) “Those people need you, but we need you more. I don’t mind when people call you with quick questions, but I don’t like it when you are on the phone for a long time. It makes me sad and nervous.” She went on to talk about how busy she is as she gets older and how little time we have with each other as the years go on.
Wow. Deep insights from my pre-teen…
She was right on so many levels. Yes, it’s true that my life should not revolve around my children. They don’t need to be the center of anyone’s universe, but they feel secure when they know they are important. Taking a call from a friend just to chat on that day would have sent the wrong message. Time and focused attention are keys to bonding with people, especially my children.
Have you ever been in a store and had to wait while the cashier in front of you answers a long call or even leaves her station to hunt around the sales racks for the person on the phone? How did you feel? Usually, I am tempted to leave. I was the one who actually came to the store. The person on the phone is the one, in my mind, who should wait.
How much more do our families feel when we don’t make time for them? I don’t want my children looking back on their lives feeling they had to wait while I yakked into a phone with someone else.
So often, what is unimportant and temporary infringes on the few precious moments that will be important in years to come. Sure, what my daughters and I talked about might not matter a year from now, but being close to my daughters will matter my entire life. If I am always occupied with the urgent and not prioritizing, I will miss out.
So, if I don’t answer your calls, I might be bonding with my kids. And/or I might not be able to find my phone.