Question for you - what do you want most of all in your life? It's a big and serious question, so think about it. Got your answer? Good.
Now, think about what your kids want most. I'll bet it's time with you. Time when you listen to them, pay attention to them, are truly interested in what they're doing, and are undistracted by the day-to-day administrivia that we sometimes get caught up in. Think of your own childhood; didn't you want your parents around, want their love, their time, and their attention? Doesn't the Harry Chapin song "Cat's in the Cradle" (which is a Dad's lament that he didn't spend more time with his son) ring completely true to you?
Some say that money is the most precious gift. Others say that love far outweighs money. But for me, it's time.
Time is the one thing that everyone wants more of. When you're dying, it's the one thing you ask for. When you're in love, you can't get enough of it. When you hear the squealing laughter of your children as you chase them through the house with a fake hunchback, a lightsaber, and flip flops, time is considered "well spent." When you are frustrated about what you're doing, it's a "waste of time."
Last night, I just about lost it with Kade. He kept asking me for food, to pass him things, to do this, and do that. It was frustrating for me in ways that really pushed my buttons. And then this morning I tried to figure out why he had needed so much from me last night, and the answer was pretty simple.
All day long he asked me to play with him, to watch him, to be with him. And what was my most common answer?
"In a minute. I don't have time right now."
But my time was all he wanted, so he did what I would do in the same circumstance; he acted in a way that ensured that we had time together, even it was angry and frustrated time.
How easy it would have been for me to focus just on him, even for a little while. He doesn't need me all day, every day - but he needs me when he needs me, and when he needs me he asks for me. And if I don't give myself to him when he asks, he may just stop asking some day because I've conditioned him to expect me to "not have the time."
Not anymore. Not ever again. I'll watch him play his DS. I'll watch him on the computer. I'll play with him. I'll see the world through his eyes. I'll give him the thing he wants the most - unabashed, uncontrolled, unconditional time.