I grew up in a bigger family. I was the oldest of five kids. My parents both worked hard and expected the same of each of us. The thing I cherish the most about my childhood is that my parents always made an effort to be there for our important events. Their time was precious, but they made sure to communicate our value by showing up.
In today’s distracted society where our computers are palm-sized and double as cellular phones, I think we can miss “being there”.
My second-born is the “middle child”. As we have three girls, there are definite dynamics at play on a regular basis. She had a kindergarten graduation this year, and I volunteer as the music teacher at her school. Two years ago, I missed part of her older sister’s ceremony while preparing food for the rest of the celebration. I have regretted that. I need to let it go.
This year? When the graduates were released to their parents for the slideshow, I was certain she’d want to sit with Grandpa and Grandma (who did not get teacher-reserved seating like myself). After all, they are my own parents who decided to drive all day on a Monday (400 miles) for a Tuesday full of preschool programs and kindergarten graduations, just to turn around and drive 400 miles on Wednesday to go back home. (Did I mention that they have always made an effort?!)
She instead, chose to sit with me. I put my arm around her. I held her hand. I chose to be in that moment.
I was absent from social media for those couple of days and I don’t regret it. My Mom (thankfully) took lots of photos on her phone and liberally shared them. I tagged myself.
My husband took multiple photos for me. I have not yet looked through them. Instead, I was able to just “pin” those memories to my brain without any digital aid.
For our friends’ sake, for our health’s sake, sometimes we need to intentionally get away from the constant updates on life. We need to just be there.
Being there will always cost you something. All we are allowed to take away from this life are our relationships. Those moments where we’ve connected and impacted each other. What will we sacrifice and what will we gain?
My parents delayed leaving so we could all go out to breakfast. My second-born lost her first tooth at the table! They delayed further and attended the elementary awards chapel, though my eldest wasn’t being awarded. I was given a teacher award and my parents got to see it. Mom even came up and took a photo!
They may have lost sleep. The jet lag of such a quick trip and sleeping in a foreign place for two nights is real. They were there for some amazing moments, though. My kids will remember Grandpa and Grandma “being there”.
For them, the sacrifice was well worth the reward.
I want to be intentional when I visit with friends. I don’t want us to simultaneously zone out and scroll on our phones. And I want my kids to know I love them. I want to be “in the picture” instead of always taking and posting a picture. Instead of clinging to photos, I want to cling to the memories.
If you’re a parent, school is out or will be soon. I encourage you to choose a time. Schedule it on your calendar. Be there. Be fully there. Forget to take a picture. Just remember it for yourself. Let someone else take pictures and just savor that moment.
I don’t regret it. And I don’t think you will either.
Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (ESV)