“He can’t get together.” My son said with a disappointing sigh.
“Oh, gosh honey, I’m sorry!”
It was a Friday night and my son, a freshman in high school, had a free night with time on his hands. Most nights, he’s either involved in his sports or drowning in his virtual schoolwork that has been a difficult adjustment, lasting much longer for him to complete. He was hoping to celebrate the end of a long week by hanging out with his best friend.
But things didn’t work out the way he had hoped. I assumed my teen boy would spend the night playing video games with his friends, his second favorite thing to do, but I’ve also been delighted that he will sometimes choose to spend time with me.
“Do you want to have a night together? We could play ping pong and darts and then we can catch up on our shows.”
I had planned to run errands that night. I had also planned to catch up on some work I had been procrastinating, too. But tonight, my son wanted to be with me and I will never pass that up because I love spending special one-on-one time with my boy. The errands can wait and so can the work.
“Heck yes, honey! Let’s do it! I’m so excited!”
We played rounds of ping pong and darts, then we ordered take out Chinese food to eat and snuggle in for the rest of the night to watch some of our favorite shows. This kind of quality time with my son has been the best thing that has come from this pandemic. Although so much of his life has been restricted, we’ve had tons of opportunities to spend one-on-one time together and I’m always both thrilled and surprised he still enjoys my company.
My daughter, a senior in high school, will do the same thing when she has a rare and random free night for whatever reason that may be. Even in a pandemic, my girl has filled her days with working two jobs, serving in our city’s communities, and participating in several of our church ministries, along with her schoolwork that also takes much of her time.
Sometimes she just wants to relax and watch Netflix shows or YouTube sermons while lying on the couch eating our favorite snacks. Other times she asks if we can go grab dinner or go thrifting at our favorite places around town. Whatever we end up doing, spending that precious time with her means everything to me. She’s growing more independent every day, creating her own schedule and making her own decisions and my gosh, it’s a beautiful thing to witness. But I miss her, so I’ll take any chance I can get to be with her.
If my kids want to spend time with me, I’ll do just about anything to show up.
This special time alone with each of my kids offers us a chance to connect and catch up on the details of their lives, as our conversations naturally unfold and they talk about what’s important to them. Sometimes, we just enjoy the activity we are doing together and that is enough, but oftentimes they will want to share more.
They’ll show me pictures of them or their friends on their phones that they want me to see or things on social media they think are worth sharing with me. They’ll update me on their classes or give more details about the activities they are currently in or talk about what’s going on with their friends. They will bring up things that would ordinarily be stifled away if we did not make room for the “small talk” that comes so easily when we’re alone.
This one-on-one time is also when my kids are most comfortable bringing up difficult issues they are struggling with, or questions they have about things that are confusing them, or frustrations they feel with any challenges they face, and I’m all ears- attentive and anxious to help them sort through their feelings, answer their questions, and guide them in making hard decisions about tough situations. I’m always learning more about these babies of mine who are growing up so fast and developing their own identities apart from me.
Any time they invite me into their worlds, their views, their struggles, and their victories, I relish the chance to be involved in it all. They really do want my advice, my validation, and my encouragement, and I know these are the years they need it most. Being fully present in this special space we create together is a critical piece to my parenting. Now, more than ever, I want to show up and give them what they need.
My time with my kids is ticking by so fast and I’m facing the painful and exciting reality that they are almost out the door. This truth both scares me and makes me ache in ways only a mother can feel. I’m just glad they choose to spend some of their time with me. I’m so grateful they still think it’s worthwhile to include me in their lives.
For those times when they want some special one-on-one time with their mom, I’m always ready to drop everything and dive in and soak up those wonderful opportunities while they are still here in my home.
One day, it won’t be this easy to spend time together. I won’t have my kids sitting at our kitchen table asking if we can do something right there, right then. Soon this time spent together might come with a long drive over hundreds of miles or flights covering several state borders to be with one another. The request might have to wait until a holiday break or when my kids have vacation time from their jobs. This invitation will have to come with planning and time, arranged schedules, and saved money. Before I know it, things will get complicated and I will ache for these days when my kids are right here.
So, for now, when my kids ask if I’m free to spend time with them…
I’ll jump at that chance and truly appreciate the immediacy and luxury of such a gift I’ll only get to enjoy just a little while longer.
This is a contributed post by Christine Carter. She writes at TheMomCafe.com, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration, and faith. Her work is published on several various online publications and she is the author of “Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness.” and “Follow Jesus: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Navigating the Online World”. Both sold on Amazon.