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 2: There’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 you. Lesson 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?