A number of years ago, I was invited by my best friend and his wife to help watch their newborn son. I remember the conversation well because I remember just how crazy I thought my friend was for asking me to do such a thing. Here’s a little bit of background information for you…
I had been on a downward spiral for quite some time. I was depressed, negative about everything, I had a long history of not having a job even though I currently held one at the time of the conversation and had been there for about a year but above all, I was running from God and I knew it.
My best friend knew it too. He knew I was and had been struggling with my faith for a while. I brought to him my concerns-I had no experience with children whatsoever, I lived in constant fear of doing something wrong and all the other hang ups us guys get around young children. In a word, I was insecure. For some reason though, my best friend believed in me.
After I thought about it for a week or two, I agreed to help them out. At first,it was my best friend and myself watching Ryan with a small time span of where I was alone with him waiting for his mom to get home. They had jobs that left their son alone but not long and I was okay with that.
As time went on though, I began watching him more and more on my own. I started learning the hands on aspects of the job. I started to feed him (which of course I hated because it took forever); I started changing his diapers and everything else that comes with watching a child. In addition to watching him, I worked a part time job (about 27 hours a week) and I was a full time school (online) student. That made it so I had to juggle my time with him so I would allow him to do things while I concentrated on reading my textbooks and writing endless reports.
So, needless to say, I had a full plate. While I don’t like to brag about myself, I had a pretty good ability at time management. I knew what I could handle and what I couldn’t. I learned early on to say “No” to a lot of things, even if I could thrive in doing them.
While I worked in the retail industry, my schedule ran from Tuesday to Saturday. Sunday’s were church and I was heavily involved there in a number of ministries which left Monday to be my day off. For a short while, I used Mondays to “get ahead” in reading my textbooks and writing assignments for school.
It wasn’t much longer that I realized that young children need a role model, a friend, and someone to be there for them. So I decided to use my Monday’s as my real day off. Since I didn’t work that day and I knew the amount of assignments I had for school and I knew I could accomplish them, i made the decision that Monday was my “sabbath, my day of rest. Monday was a day for Ryan and myself, to do things together because the rest of the week I had to concentrate.
I tried to focus on that for as long as I could too. We played together quite a bit and during the times it was nice outside, we would go to the park, where he could use the playground or we would jump on our trampoline. During the winter months, we went out behind the house and he would sled down the hill while I watched in absolute terror because I thought he was going to crash into a tree. Other times, we would just watch a movie together like Monsters Inc. or Over the Hedge. Sometimes we went to the store just to get ice cream and other times we just would go out for car rides.
Here’s my point-my priorities were never in the right place until I rearranged them so Ryan had my undivided attention. School work was important but studying theology and pursuing a degree isn’t as important as watching Sponge-Bob. Even the Bible says there is a time and place for everything. Sure, I could have studied and gotten ahead and quite possibly graduated earlier and reduced the amount of student loans that are due. But if I did things that way, I would have given up what God had given me, an opportunity to be there for a young child who needs attention, who needs someone to look up to and needs someone to just be a kid with.
That being said, his parents are great parents. They are world class parents and he is blessed beyond measure to have them as parents. They haven’t failed him in any way. I was in a place where I could watch him from a distance and let him do his own thing while I did my own thing or, I could sacrifice what I wanted to do for a brief period of time, invest in the life of someone else and allow what needed to be accomplished on my watch work itself out. I chose the latter.
So hey parents, can I have your attention?
You’ve probably got a job (maybe more), you’ve got bills to pay and you’ve got to have your alone time. I get that-we all have priorities. But it’s important for your kid(s) to have someone to be there for them. They need someone to be there as a friend, a role model and someone to care for them. Children need their parents.
So, play with your kids, have fun with them. Do something with them that allows them to know you are there for them. Take them out to eat, take them to the park, read a story to them or sing to them. Above all else, tell them and show them you love them.