what I want to give: presence

There is one thing my kids ask me to give them more than anything else: my presence. Their biggest want comes in the form of

“Mommy will you…..

play with me,

push me on the swing,

cuddle with me,

help me,

color with me,

build with me,

watch me.”

It is all too easy for me to be too busy with things that I claim aren’t my priorities while not giving undivided attention to the ones that are my priorities. One more email, another load of laundry to fold, dishes to wash, Legos to pick up…there is always something I can give my attention to. My ‘to do’ list grows faster than I can check things off.

I want to do better at giving them my presence….it is what they really want. They want it more than anything I can buy at a store or make with my hands. I think it is the greatest gift I can give them…not because I am a fabulous mom, but because I am their mom. In all my failures, mistakes, screw-ups. In all my home runs, great moments and got it rights. I am their mom. That is enough for them. Isn’t it great to be loved by a child?!

(yes…my 6 year old is missing in these pics…he wasn’t home when we took them)

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  • Willeke - Thanks for sharing! I believe it is one of the most important things of being a parent!
    I really love reading your blog!

  • Corey Moortgat - Oh yes, this is absolutely my biggest struggle in life- so hard to let go of my own agenda to “be” with my kids. In fact, right now, being on the computer is part of that!! I think I’ll go help them with their morning chore chart instead! :)

  • Anna Marie - Definitely a post I needed this morning. I am SO bad about saying “hold on” or “just wait a minute”. Your post made me feel guilty but that is a good thing. Thanks for making me more aware.

  • Terri Lynne Barrington - My favorite of all your post. Thank you!

  • Lisa Johnson - Beautiful post Ashley. I now have 5 teens in my house, but the message is still the same. I want to BE there, look in their eyes, and hear their hearts. I am even more aware of the incredibly quick passing of time. Thanks for reminding me to slow down and soak it up.

  • Jess - Wow, just what I needed to hear this morning! My “wait a minutes” have gotten bad lately. Great job!

  • Sadie - You ALWAYS hit the nail on the head. I am so looking forward to my next 2 weeks off b/c I am going to forget about all the cleaning I could be doing, and think about what I NEED to be doing- loving on my kiddos. Thanks Ashley!

  • amanda torres - My favorite post thus far. Very true.

  • Jen - beautiful. the love of a child overcomes anything in this world, their love could stop time. thanks for sharing this today.

  • the whyte house - Thank you, Ashley!! Love this(and love the quote at the end).

  • hearttypat - you’re lucky, you’re deeply loved by FOUR kids!

  • Haylee - This is exactly what has been weighing on my mind lately. I came across a quote that instantly became one of my favorites. “In family relationships LOVE is really spelled TIME.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf I now have it hanging as art in my house as the perfect reminder to step away from what I think is important at the time, and really see what is truly the important things in my life…. my children. Merry Christmas Ashley Ann!

  • Danielle - Beautiful! I really need to work on giving them myself more.

  • Mariah - All too true. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Lisa B - I can’t believe you made me cry before I’ve finished my coffee! Beautifully said and wonderful pictures!

  • Alba - I think I going to print you “not on my (yours & mine) wish list” and to tattoo it in my arm. not jocking. some days I am going to bed, I think that my most used frase in the afternoons is “hold on for a minute”. You are the most fabulous mum in the world because you are their mum, I think we all are.

  • mandi - Have you heard that song by Sara Groves- “Just one more thing”??? Made me think of this.
    The ONE piece of advice I like to give to all young mamas is this “enjoy your children”. you’ve captured that here…

  • Nicole - Makes me want to cry a little – I feel myself cringe inside everytime I say “just a second” or “i’ll be right there”. This is my goal for the holidays and for the new year without a doubt.

  • Amy D - Hi Ashley. This is possibly the first time I’ve commented on your blog for anything other than a giveaway! :) Is it weird to have a blogger as a role model? That’s what you are to me, in so many ways… giving, loving Jesus, just BEING with your kids (and admitting that you struggle with that) and your photography. LOVE it all. Thanks. I’m guilty of all the things that AREN’T on my kids’ wish lists. But my littlest one (22 mos) is going to keep me in check because he just figured out in his non-verbal way to ask me to play with him. And he is stubborn.

  • Krista Lund - i haven’t participated in Ali Edward’s One Word Project, but lately I’ve been thinking that if I do (or even if I don’t) my word is going to PRESENT. Spend more time with my girls (the chores can wait), enjoy the moment more (instead of worrying if I captured it on film) say Yes to my girls more (and No to other responsibilities).

    Great post as always!
    And adorable pics!

  • Amanda-ThriceBlessed - Great post, I agree 100%. And that is one of my most favorite quotes.

  • Stephanie - Thank you so much for sharing this very encouraging, very important message. Our son is already 7, he will be 8 next month. I find myself saying over and over how time flies. We have another little one on the way, I’m due in March, I am going to print out this blog and place it somewhere safe. This way I can read it over and over again when I have those “hold on a minute” moments. Nothing is more important than being there for your children. Thank you!

  • Kate - My grandmother cross-stitched that quote at the end for my little girl’s nursery, and I look at it every day. Helps me to remember to soak up each and every tear, hug, and smile.

  • Marie - I love that quote at the end…as i sit holding my baby. sometimes i just want her to get a little older so i can get more done. but she is my 3rd (probably the last one for us) and i need to be reminded that this amazing time will be gone in a flash. i need to enjoy my baby–in every stage, and forget about those cobwebs. for now.

  • Ruth - Ashley, I’ve really enjoyed your “what I want to give” series this week, and this one actually made me a little teary because I could relate to it so much. Thank you for the inspiration and food for though this week. You are a far better person than I could ever hope to be, but at least now I have something to shoot for next year. I hope you get the wonderful Christmas with your family that you deserve.

  • Theresa - Well put and good advice. I am looking forward to next week, no preschool, no swimming, just me and the girls.

    Love you blog, so beautiful!

    Theresa

  • ashlee - maybe im hormonal but this post totally made me cry!!! and smile at the same time:)

  • Kirra Sue - O! I just got all teary eyed.

  • Courtney - He’s been gently telling me this over and over, “BE PRESENT”…

    my goal this past year was, “be intentional”

    i think for 2011 it will be, “be present”

    thank you for spurring me on to be obedient to Him!

  • Brandi - I needed to hear this right before my Christmas break from school. I am going to soak up every minute I can while I am on break. THank you

  • crystal - I love this post!! I think this is on every mother’s mind. We all strive to be present. Thanks for sharing.

  • Julie - I LOVE the Hamilton quote. I feel like I missed out on so much with my older kids (a set of twin boys) because I was too busy. Now that I finally have another baby (8 years later) I am specifically making time to be there with him. The laundry may pile up, but he will be grown before I know it. And I don’t want to miss it this time.

  • Ruth V - I love the sentiment you share and I will be doing the same. It was only yesterday that my little one was a baby and today she is nearly two and looking like a proper little girl. I must snoodle her up while she still lets me!

  • Liz - I couldn’t agree with you more. In fact last week I got slammed because a mom on facebook was complaining and being sarcastic about her kids. She said mommy is closed come back tommorow. It hit my hard and upset me because no matter how tired I am or how much I need a break I would never say that to my kids. Well, all her friends jumped on and defended her saying I was a horrible person and she was a perfect mom because she homeschools her kids. IT blew up and I even had some people unfriend me. So it is refreshing to see that someone else feels the way I do. All they need is our undivided attention. That is all. There are times when they don’t need it and those are the times that we do things for ourselves and around the house. I have hard days with my kids sometimes but I try to never complain about it. They are precious gifts and every second counts.

  • Desiree - This is so true! It’s amazing how much this little person (my daughter) wants to be with me! She grabs my hand and pulls me along. She tells me to sit (on the floor, at the table, wherever she is). She comes into the kitchen just to say, Hi! You know how it is. I don’t know how I’m going to get ANY housework done once #2 comes along! :-)

  • Amy - I love this post. “Isn’t it great to be loved by a child?!” Thanks for the reminder that they ask for so little in exchange for so much (love)!

  • Carolyn - Thank you for this post – really well said. I am trying to remind myself that my daughter demanding all of my attention now, is such a brief moment in time. It will pass, and I need to appreciate it before she is off and into the world…You’re right, it certainly is great to be loved by a child!

  • Jenny B. - Thanks – I needed that reminder. Such a sweet poem. Cleaning isn’t usually what keeps me away from my kiddos (that would be the computer), but the sentiment is so true. Your photos are adorable!

  • Cheri - Long time reader first time comments poster. Thank you for this.

  • Carolv - I thought a lot about your post yesterday as I watched your words unfold in my life. I started off my day with an overwhelming to do list. I got through the first item whn I got a call fom my daughter and could hear my granddaughter playing in the background. I happened to be a few blocks from their house so I stopped by to see those two precious girls. Then off to complete the rest of my list. I do love checking off my list. I stopped back home to pick up some things before heading out again and my oldest surprised me and came home for the weekend. Suddenly my list became smaller. We hopped in the car with two of my other girls and went to grab some lunch. We ended up spending the day laughing, eating, shopping and having a great time. By the time we got back home the whole family was there. (There are nine of us including spouses and grandbaby.). We hung out until bed time. I didn’t get much of my list done, but I realized that it doesn’t matter how old your kids get, they always want your presence. I am grateful for that!

  • Melissa Deming - You are the cutest thing ever! what a great reminder!

  • tara - weeping.
    simply weeping.
    my biggest struggle. but i am proud to say that i am able to do this a lot of the time…however then i worry about what my mother in law thinks of the mountains of laundry…and the unmade beds!

  • jessica h - thanks again for an inspiring, encouraging post to just “be,” which is the most valuable thing we can offer those we love!!

  • Helen + Bill + Mirys from Brazil - Priceless!!!!

    You couldnt finish this “series” in a better way!

    “What you want to give” = we’ve read about.

    “Whatu you DO GIVE” = INSPIRATION!!!

    Mirys – mother of 2 adorable little musketters (that dont have pics like these!!! I get to do something about it!!! They DO grow to fast…)

  • Tiffany - that is a great poem you shared.

  • Becky - Hi,

    What a great post! This is so poignant, to so many Mothers. I love your ‘not on your kids wish list’, I want to put this on my wall to remind of this every day.
    Thank you for sharing this,
    Becky:)

  • Jocelyn - This post made me cry. It’s so sweet to be a mom and it’s wonderful to be reminded how sweet it is.

  • Goals & Ideas: Part II « - [...] shared this poem at the end of her post, what I want to give: presence,  that she posted last week and it really made me realize that these goals are going to help me be [...]

  • libby - Oh so very true! i adore this post. the pictures are so precious!

  • Giving Presence « One Small Happy Family - [...] week, she did a series of posts called “What I want to give”.  This one particularly hit me.  It’s about giving her presence, about being there for her kids.  [...]

  • Emily - I have to say this is one of my very favorite posts! It really had got me thinking about the way I mother from a child perspective and I realize I need to give even more of my presence. Thank you so much!

  • Jesica Whittington - Wow did this hit home! As I was reading it I was shushing my 4 yr old daughter who was interrupting my train of thought. She was asking me to watch her play with her Leap Pad. I quickly shared the post to my Facebook to come finish reading it later and jumped right in to play with her. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Jane - Children will not remember you for the material things that y ou provided, but for the feeling that you cherished them. Richard L. Evans

  • Christy Fitzwater - I just discovered your blog, and it’s beautiful. It makes me happy, and I can’t stop looking at it. Thank you for this gift.

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