I’ve always believed that the greatest gift we can share with those we love is time.  And it’s about quality, not quantity.  There is so much you can say and do with a little time.  It always makes a difference.

I’m a say “I love you” every day kind of mom.  Children need to hear the words as much as they need those words to be backed up with actions.  Letting them know how important they are and how much they matter, breeds confidence, self-esteem, and I believe it teaches them how important love is.

I became a Mom when I was only a child myself.  I had a lot to learn. I hadn’t even changed a diaper before!  But I’ve always known how to love.  And even back then, I knew how precious a little time was – how precious time is.

Authenticity, love, fun, honesty and trust – all are important parts of spending quality time together. And there are always lessons and affirmations for both parent and child.


 “Relationships take time and effort, and the best way to spell love is “T-I-M-E.”
Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here for?


So in keeping with this tenet, and as the summer holidays were fast dwindling to a close, it was time to make time for some mommy-daughter time.  After all, she was soon to be embroiled in all the back to high school teenage drama and angst. Time was of the essence!

We opted to go camping at Killbear Provincial Park on Georgian Bay.  Just we girls, no electricity, (no blow-dryer) and no heat.  This was going to be serious together time!

Alright, I cannot tell a lie! No electricity is a little severe so I made a stop along the way and bought an inverter in case of emergency.  Well, and my blow dryer was in the trunk of the car in case of severe withdrawal, but I did NOT use it! Ok, and I did bring my laptop to write, and we did have to keep our phones charged. You know, just in case we were attacked by a bear.  It was really very practical, all things considered.

Now I’m a Northern Ontario girl and I’ve been camping as long as I can remember.  Alas, my lovely lass is not. The first year I took her camping, she acquired some heated sheets for her blow up mattress so she wouldn’t have to sleep in layers of clothing.  Lesson 1: Kids are resourceful.  And I’ll have to admit when I’ve been shivering some nights I have eyed those sheets a little enviously.  Unfortunately for her, those sheets stopped working last season so this year she had to rough it!

We put up the tent together, we filled in many suspicious-looking and supposed snake holes, we set the site up,  collected kindling,  piled wood, laid the fire, collected water, and hung a clothes line between two trees.

And then we stood back and admired our handiwork.  Lesson 2There’s value in team-work.  Lesson 3: Take pride in your accomplishments.

Now it was our time.

We hiked and talked and laughed. We marched arm in arm, exploring the lay of the land. She even held my hand and did not fling it aside when anyone walked by!  WOW!  Back home No PDA’s (that would be public displays of affection and not personal digital assistant) allowed!  Lesson 4: The love is there.  Let her express affection her way.

After I had made dinner over the fire, and without even being asked, my sweet girl boiled water and tackled the dishes. Again, WOW! Lesson 5: Instill responsibility and they will step up to the plate.  And not a single complaint! It almost made me want to live there permanently!

“If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.”  Abigail Van Buren

We walked down the rocks at dusk, across the sandy beach, while the waves lapped at our feet. Wading in the cool water, we watched the most spectacular sunset.  And then the shadows fell like ink across the sky, swallowing us up.  Beautiful.  At least until slight panic ensued when we’d realised we’d forgotten to bring a flashlight.  Lesson 6: Always be prepared.  Thankfully, through the pitch black of the night, we spotted flames dancing in the distance and followed them through the trees til we found our way.  Lesson 7: Pay attention. Be resourceful.  Stay calm.

Night time was another matter. Two single mattresses and it was cold. Without her sheets, she insisted on joining me on my little bed to get warm.  Sweet at first. But her flailing and heavy breathing left me little room to maneuver or get any rest at all. She complained that my own quiet clucking noises disturbed her!  Lesson 8: Let the girl have her heated sheets OR bring a double mattress!

We started our second day slowly, quickly bouncing back after breakfast and a somewhat friendly game of backgammon.  Lesson 9: Just when you think the game is yours, the tables turn.  Be a good sport.

You win some. You lose some. But always have fun playing the game.

We hiked for a few hours and spent the day just being silly. Just being ourselves.  We took a lot of  pictures of each other and then deleted most of them. We talked of things that made us laugh, things that made us happy, things that make us sad. We talked of dreams and love.  And we shared secrets.  I was surprised to open up as much as I did. But somehow you know what to say when the time is right.  Lesson 10: I trust youLesson 11: Dreams matter.

And then somehow before I knew it, she’d talked me into giving her a first driving lesson.  Did I mention that my car happens to have a manual transmission?

The first try was only about 300 ft. as we were almost back at the campsite.  She didn’t stall the car so I agreed to a real lesson. Lesson 12: I have faith in you.

It may not have been the wisest idea to give her this first lesson on crown land surrounded by treacherous banks, towering trees and rugged Canadian Shield.  We did find a somewhat open area with scattered brush that she could travel around and practice turning. She did pretty well and managed not to stall at all while navigating.  She was smiling and I was proud of her.  Getting to 2nd gear was a bit much for her and she panicked a little when she stalled.  She wanted to quit but I wouldn’t let her. Lesson 13: You mustn’t quit when things get scary.  We had to reverse a little to get off an incline and again she panicked and got out of the car. Thankfully not before putting it in neutral and putting the emergency brake on! So I found a relatively straight flat patch so she could try again. Lesson 14: I still believe in you. And she regained her confidence despite almost hitting a trailer and a very sweet Frenchman!

“There is no failure except in no longer trying. ” ~ Elbert Hubbard

We ended on a good note and headed back to our campsite. I lit a fire and we laid down on our lounge chairs to let our heart rates come down a little.  We both also needed Tylenol before retiring for the night. Lesson 15: Always carry Tylenol. J

Thankfully, it was a beautiful, balmy, lovely, peaceful night of blissful slumber.

Day 3 was our last full day.  We had chosen this particular location so that mom could face some fears and go cliff-jumping.  We hiked in the morning again, stopping to catch frogs on the way. And after lunch, to the cliffs we went.

I was having palpitations. We stood up top as I watched all the teenagers leap off Suicide Point, somehow avoiding the rocks below, and rising through the water with laughter.  My daughter sat patiently, camera poised while I kept walking to the edge and backing back up again.  Then I finally walked to the edge and I just kept going! The leap was exhilarating!

Unfortunately, nobody told me it was going to knock the wind out of me. And I’d somehow forgotten that I really can’t swim! Oh, I’m ok in a pool because I can get to the edge. But there was no edge to get to!  Lesson 14: Choose wisely when you choose which fears to face and how you face them.  It wouldn’t have been much of a bonding experience had my poor girl been forced to watch as they fished my body out of Lake Huron.  I was quite pleased when she told me afterward that she knew I was going to do it. I hadn’t been so sure myself as I stood there terrified for almost half an hour.  Lesson 15: She believes in me.  How wonderful that was to know!

Don`t just tell your kids how to live. Let them watch you do it.

As we drove back to our site, we spotted a family of dear by the roadside and stopped to watch them grazing.  It was serene.  They did not flinch nor flee. They knew how to just be. Two little fawns with their beautiful spots, and maybe with their two moms watching over them. They were enjoying some quality time too.  Lesson 16: There is beauty and wisdom in nature.  Learn from it and enjoy it.

We took it easy the rest of the day, driving to the outdoor theater nearby in the evening where they were putting on a musical rendition of the history of the peninsula. Despite the very bad on-stage singing and acting we had fun.  We even joined in and sang along.  Lesson 17: Sing no matter how you sound.  Enjoy everything that you do whether you’re good at it or not.

We spent our last night relaxing with a minor incident as we attempted unsuccessfully to pop popcorn and burnt it to cinders. Who says Jiffy Pop is easy?!

The next morning, our last morning, we had a leisurely breakfast and hiked again. Neither of us were ready to leave. But we packed up and headed home with smiles on our faces.  Lesson 18: We were both glad we had made the time. Nice.


My little girl is not so much a little girl anymore.  And I thank God she’s not up to all the stuff I was at her age! She’s an amazing young lady.  She’s quirky, she has an unusual sense of humour, she speaks her mind and is able to laugh at herself and her silliness.

It seems I’ve done right by her. I’ve taught her the things that matter. Kindness, love, faith, trust, responsibility, and believing in yourself.  I also taught her the value of time.

I know my job is not done. But I also know that the core of who she is will always carry her through. I look forward to much more time with my girl. And I look forward to watching with pride and amazement as she steps up to take her place as another fiery redhead who will change the world.


Take the time for your kids.  Teach them what matters.  Teach them they matter.

And if you don’t have children of your own, you can still take the time to make a difference.  Children are our future.  Let’s make sure we make it bright.


I’ll end with this poem I wrote just before my daughter was born.  A little Hallmark perhaps, but I still believe the sentiments all hold true.


Your Greatest Gift Is Time
by Shelley Lundquist ©1996

Ere anon comes nigh the day, when a blessed gift ye’ll hold
By favour of thy God’s good grace, thy joy canst be foretold

When thine eyes first light upon her, she’ll steal thy heart away
and silent words ye’ll whisper, whilst ye vow to keep her safe

As Astraea she’ll seem to thee, mere subject to her charms
Yet shield her not from verity, and sage, she’ll keep from harm

Fain be as ye do serve her, beware of blinding spells
Attest to goodly candor, that shall ever keep her well

And be not light, in this thy charge, henceforth, thy task is clear
To guide the wee one on her way, and teach her what is dear

Cherish ev’ry moment, attend and wipe her tears
Hold her, if e’er she needs you, chase distant all her fears

Be kind and guide thy little one, with wisdom and with grace
And bide the trials as ere they come, with patience and with faith

Indulge her not in every whim, thy greatest gift is time
Just love her all for who she is, and teach her to be kind

For if ye lavish love, whilst teaching her to care
To pardon and to understand, and let go of despair

To dream, to look for magic, in every single day
To find the beauty deep inside, she’ll well be on her way

She’ll be blessed with faith and light and hope, and a strength that’s all her own
So pride, please take, in all you teach, for she’ll learn from all she’s shown.


What do you think is the most important gift we have to share?

46 Responses to Your Greatest Gift Is Time

  1. Beautiful post Shelley, and I’m glad to have finally made it to your blog. 🙂

    Oh yes…time is the ONLY gift we can give our kids, which is more valuable than any other materialistic gifts that we otherwise tend to give our kids.

    I loved the way you shared each lesson given to your daughter all through your trip, which I’m sure she values and treasures even though she’s all grown up now. That’s because children never forget the valuable time we parents spend with them, they go down memory lane and are always remain precious moments of life.

    I remember the time I’ve spent with my parents too when I was young, and my Dad being in the army, always had a lot of travelling and trekking to do. So, during our holidays it was always fun time because we were all travelling together as a family, and just being together is always so much of fun. And of course, there lies the hidden lessons of life too, which parents slowly keep imparting to their kids, which are best learnt informally. 🙂

    That was such a touching poem on time, something to be valued indeed. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing such a lovely post with all of us. 🙂

  2. Ola says:

    OMG!….you are a blessing to the generation. This is a beautiful piece to help individual and home. We need to understand that it takes love and effort to build relationship, we need to be patient too. When you allow the live to flow freely nothing will hurt you anymore. Thank you Shelley.

  3. Jen Olney says:

    What an amazing trip, Shelley. Memories that you take with you for a lifetime. You should be so proud of her. Each lesson is a gift and I loved that you shared this story. I’m further back down the road from you with my own son but I look forward to the day we start driving lessons…I have my crash helmet ready 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  4. Fatima Omar Khamissa says:

    Well Done Shelly!!!!!!

    LOL. I chuckled and giggled and even got chocked up reading these reminders

    Warm ((((HUGS))))))

    Love, Fatima
    AKA Spiritual Biz Mom of Five (phew)

  5. Heartwarming & Enjoyable Shelley. Almost felt like I was there. Children are no paint by number project. Nobody tells us how to fill their life and memory of us with color. But the Divine parent smiles on us with intuitive skills, when we put our heart into it. Thanks for the reminder. Smiles – “Slam”

  6. Gloria says:

    Shelly, your article is very timely and in the now. We have seperated ourselves with the lives of our children due to busy schedules and busy time- yes even through technologies. Children need to come home to the safe haven of home where quality time is shared. It is where they learn so many life lessons that make them strong. Always remember ” a house is built of boards and beams, but a home is built with love and draems”, Greatful for you talent and sharing.

    • Thank you, Gloria! Yes, it’s so easy to get caught up in the momentum – in the fast pace of lives today where the days seem to just slip by. I love that! A home is built with love and dreams. I am so grateful for your kind heart and your gentle wisdom.

  7. Cathy Wilke says:

    Wow, this is a beautiful story. I can tell you that your daughter is one lucky girl and I’m sure she will treasure the memories of that trip for the rest of her life. Each one of the lessons are powerful. Maybe there’s a little book in there??? You are an incredibly talented writer and I love reading your work. xoxo

  8. Shelley, what a beautiful post loaded with such wonderful moments with your daughter and great lessons you gleaned from your adventure with her. I love especially how you believe in each other. I’m sure your daughter knows how blessed she is to have a wonderful mother like you! Love the poem you wrote in her honor years ago. It really captures the love of a mother in such nuanced and profound way! Thank you for sharing your love, your grace and your wisdom, Shelley! Lots of Love, Alice

  9. jackie dick says:

    Shelley, if more parents shared, enjoyed, trusted and mentored the way you do…there would be less conflict, wars, a better community and country. Greed and power would fall by the wayside, and caring and love would take its place. It all starts at home, and apparently, you have the gift. Thank you for sharing this valuable experience with us. I love it!

    • Lol… Thank you so much Jackie! Yes, the world would be a much better place if we all focused on loving each other and caring about each other. Thank YOU for stopping by and leaving your kind message. I so appreciate you. xo

  10. AngelaMaiers says:

    This is absolutely beautiful my friend! So filled with timeless treasures and reminders. My favorite line and message is the following: Don`t just tell your kids how to live. Let them watch you do it. What a powerful reminder and message!

    • Thank you, Angela! I agree! Trying to teach our kids values and then erasing the value of the lesson with contradicting behaviour is only going to leave them confused. We have to walk the talk! Both or our sakes, and theirs. 🙂

  11. Josh Medici says:

    I love your way of sharing stories.

    I usually tell my friends who will be parents soon or are new parents the most important piece of advice I can give you is this: Your children, love them as you make them, or make them as you love them.

    There is a window of opoprtunity for every child, brain development continues well into the teens, but most of the brain cell connections will be made by age 5-6, that means you educate them, teach them manners, language, respect for others, responsibility, loyalty, prudence, social and emotional skills, and things in between.

    I have an eight year old, I also believe I have done right by him and that the responsibility will end when I die, but today he’s a little young fellow, respectful, soft spoken, well-mannered, kids and teachers love him at school and he’s sought after by his neighbors. I try to teach him emotional control and accept consequences for his actions whatever they might be, good or bad.

    I feel right now I’ve failed to teach him altruism, charity, to take care of others less fortunate. I plan on taking him to a local shelter, or orphanage so he can share some toys, clothes, food or a little money. I believe if I teach him that he will develop a wider sense of being with the world. The window I had I took with determination, and no matter what, he will carry that education throughout his life.

    Sorry for the extended explanation, but, your story depicts precisely the kind of delivery a committed parent makes when she’s involved, she cares and loves deeply for her child, and that can only mean an outstanding citizen is being molded and the world will receive such human being courtesy of Shelley.

    I feel happy for your kid, since she’s the recipient of an unlimited amount of love, forgiveness and trust, and for you because you show us, your readers, how you embrace your role as mother, friend and mentor. Because you are taking responsibility not only for her, but for her future and that is your legacy.

    Blessings my dear friend.

    • My dear friend. I love that you share your heart so openly. I have no doubt that you are wonderful father.
      Do not worry about what your son has not yet learned. There is still plenty of time to teach him. We are each a work in progress, learning and growing every day.
      I could look at my girl and also wish she was more of “this or that” but she is who she is. I celebrate that. And while she will learn by my example, she gets to choose who she wants to be.
      It can be a dangerous affair when we start measuring them and wishing they were more the way we want them to be. Our children have their own journeys to take. All we can do is best guide them.
      They will stumble. They will learn. They will make choices. Just as we do.
      And I know you too leave your own legacy of love. For that’s all that really matters.
      Blessings to you always dear Josh xo

  12. Bookmarking this and will be coming back to it time & time again. Fantastic post about parenting, thank you for sharing!

  13. @UnfoldYrStory says:

    Wow Shelley! Amazing blog. Made me cry; laugh out loud; appreciate my kids; remember that my love and my time is the best thing I can give them; long to have a similar relationship with my daughter when she reaches her teenage years and want to jump off a cliff!
    As for the most important gift we have to share… it’s our authentic ourselves… the gift we were given. Thanks for sharing yourself… you’re awesome!

    • Thanks so much, Jo. You’ve moved me! And I completely agree with you… giving time really does not matter if you’re not sharing you’re authentic self. Honouring who you are, listening to your soul’s whispers, is the key to living in joy. What an important lesson that is for us all.
      Be well. You’re awesome too! xo

  14. Peg Gillard says:

    Ahhh, Shelley this is a wonderful post that is applicable to all parents, children, child/adult relationship. You clear writing and clear joy make this post a pleasure to read, especially for those of us who have done a lot of camping with children! I still love camping and do it alone, traveling with my trusted Harley, tent, jet stove, sleeping bag and air mattress! Good for you for triumphing over your fears and facing the JOY of LIFE head on! Peace~

    • Thank you, dear Peg. You are such a delight. Kindred spirits you and I! Although I like the idea of the Harley, I think I might fair best as a passenger as I’m a bit of a daydreamer! Though a sidecar might do nicely, too.
      Still facing my fears and learning to live in joy! It’s nice to be able to look back and laugh at the craziness.
      I’m so blessed to share my journey with such wonderful new friends like you. Thank you for sharing your beautiful soul and shining your light. Namaste.

  15. Heather Gauthier says:

    What a beautiful post, it makes me wish my mother and I did the same; it also gives me something to look forward to with my own daughter….thanks so much for sharing!

  16. MELISASource says:

    Wow what great lessons here Shelley!! ~Thanks so much for sharing!

  17. Deone Higgs says:

    I would have to say taking the hairdryer just in case was pure genius! 😀 Kidding. I think each of your lessons here were dead on, Shelley. You’re a supper mom! Even though she was great in her own unique way, had I had a mom like you, this writing journey would’ve been totally different from the one I’m having. Kudos to you! I also enjoy and agree with Lesson 17. It’s our song that give us hope. If we stop singing because our children (or partner) closes the bathroom door every time we shower – oh well, their lost. Someone would pay for those tickets. lol Enjoyed the read and the beautiful poem afterwards. Thanks for sharing it with us. 🙂

  18. Debra Oakland says:

    Excellent article Shelley. Great advice for all areas of life!

  19. Anita says:

    Shelley…sorry I just got around to reading this, but I truly enjoyed getting to know you better through this piece, and thought it a wonderful experience as a mother. I loved it, and will be reading more of your pieces!

  20. Powerful, Authentic, Inspiring, Creative, and Mostly… Loving!
    Thank you Shelley for the pouring forth of your heart and mind, spirit and soul, into this amazing post. Every parent needs to read this; every person thinking about being a parent needs to read this. Adult children dealing with issues re their parents need to read this. You should use this as the start of your new book:)

    Your wisdom is crafted and now shared from its source, your own career-life journey; a life journey that has gifted you, amidst the challenges and thorns of your experiences, an incedible rose garden with fragrant whifts of healing wisdom from beautiful roses, Shelley’s Garden of Wisdom, where people can walk with wisdom and take in Her lasting gifts. Thank you for sharing, EdC

    • Thank you so much Edward! I’m so honoured by your comments. I am so blessed to have such amazing support from such wonderful people like you. You made my day! And you brighten my every day when you share your beautiful heart. ((hugs))

      P.S. I’m still writing, so we’ll see how the book takes shape.

  21. Amy Oscar says:

    Oh, my. Breath taken away. Speechless. Moved. What a beautiful experience. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Thank you, Amy! I don’t know how i missed your comment and do apologise for not seeing it until now. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. As you know, these moments we make to cherish what matters are what life is all about. xo

  22. This is so awesome! You are both so blessed to have such a great relationship and you are such an amazing mom (and writer). Reading your blogs always brings me peace! <3

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