As parents, we want to give our children the very best of everything. Throughout their childhood we try to do this. We can raise them in a beautiful home buy them designer clothes, expensive toys, motorized cars, and four-wheelers, but is this what they will remember about their childhood? Is this what will stick with them throughout adulthood? Is this what will shape them into the well balanced adults we want them to be? As I look back, I have come to believe that the most valuable thing we can give our children is our time.
A special time that I and my children remember fondly is one Christmas in Bracey, Virginia. There was a foot of snow on the ground it was gorgeous. The snow storm knocked our power out on Christmas Eve. Our only heat was a woodstove, which meant we had to sleep in the living room to stay warm. We ate sandwiches because we had no power to cook Christmas dinner, but did any of this ruin our Christmas? No, it made it one of the best we ever had. We spent Christmas Eve around the coffee table playing cards and games and telling stories by candlelight. I still remember the laughter and smiles on my children’s faces that night. Christmas morning we opened presents, still by candlelight, while we listened to Christmas music on a battery powered radio. It was truly a wonderful experience for us all.
Other fond memories I share with my children involve trips to Maymont Park in Richmond. My children remember feeding the baby goats and other small animals at the front of the park, and then walking through the park to see the larger animals, of which the bears and walking across the stepping stones in the pond looking at the Koi fish are our favorites. A couple of years ago my 19 year old daughter said to me, “Mom why don’t you take the girls (her little sisters) to the park as often as you took us? It was at that very moment that I realized how much the time I spend with my children means to them. I had been taking the little ones to that park, but have since started taking them more often. If I mention taking the younger ones to the park now my 19, 21 and 24 year olds still want to go with us.
The fact that these are the things my children remember, talk about, and that my three grown children still want to join me and the little ones on our trips to Maymont leads me to believe that the most valuable thing I give my children is my time. It’s what makes my older children such wonderful adults and what will help to ensure that my younger children grow up to be wonderful adults as well.
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