I was visiting with a friend the other day and reminiscing about my childhood. We had these lavender wild flowers in our yard with yellow dust in the middle, and I loved them. I imagined that the yellow dust was magic dust and that it had the power to do something really special. My parents told me these flowers were weeds, and sure enough my father mowed them all down when he did the yard every Saturday. I was always glad by Wednesday or Thursday when they reappeared in the yard by the back door.
One day I was so excited about theses flowers that I gathered a bunch and took them inside to show my mother who promptly told me to take them right back outside and wash up for lunch. I was lamenting to this friend that not only had my feelings been hurt, but that I was sure I had hurt my own children’s feelings in the same way when I have been worried about the house staying clean or been in a hurry. I expected a response along the lines of how busy mothers are and how, even if we say that we won’t be like our mothers, we end up doing and sounding exactly the same way. But that wasn’t the response. My older, wiser friend just smiled and asked me, “If you could be a mother to your 5-year-old self, knowing what you know now, what would you say?” After I thought for a minute I replied, “I think I would say to her: Come sit right here beside and tell me all about those flowers.” With that response she gently reminded me that its never too late to be the mother you wish you had, both to yourself and to your children.
When we wonder what it is that we can do for our children sometimes the best thing we can do is tune into them in the moment, go with what they are interested in, and be genuinely interested ourselves. In other words, the best gift we can give our children is our presence.