THIS ARTICLE IS A READER FAVORITE AND WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN January 2013.
The four-boy tuck-in routine can be exhausting. Our two-year-old has turned out to be the most challenging of any of our boys at bedtime, seeming to come to life just about the time we are ready to collapse and enjoy a few minutes of quiet. If, and when, we finally get him down, there are still three more boys to read to (on a good night), say prayers with, and get into their beds. By the time I get to my thirteen-year-old, it’s usually an abbreviated tuck-in. He doesn’t need much. He reads to himself. One hug and kiss is plenty. He is easy.
So that one night not too long ago, when I said “goodnight” and “I love you” and was just about to hurry out to tackle the next thing on my nightly to-do list, I’m not sure what made me pause.
But I did.
And I just sat there and was quiet for maybe ten seconds. I looked right at my son, with a relaxed expression. I expected nothing, but instead just enjoyed his presence for those few seconds.
And that young teenager actually had something to say.
It wasn’t a shocking confession, or any super sensitive issue. He simply shared something that he was frustrated with personally—a goal he hadn’t reached in a certain sport. Being a first-born perfectionist type, this kid is really hard on himself. He works things out quietly, and doesn’t need to talk about little issues. I suppose I have seen this as not only a great quality, but one that simplifies my parenting requirements. And maybe one I’ve taken for granted…
On that particular day, I don’t think he needed me to share wise counsel or really to say anything at all.
He simply decided to let me in on things.
And that moment pierced my heart a little bit.
It made me ask what have I been missing. These little moments…they are treasures. A peek into the heart of my child. A chance to know what he ponders. What bothers him. How I might pray for him.
Yet, I am so busy with the daily tasks and the managing of the family and the disciplining of the younger ones, that I am afraid I have rushed past the one that might just need a listening ear the most.
Obviously, we are all human. We can only do so much in a day. If we are blessed to have one (or more!) independent kids who are self-directed and don’t require a whole lot of special attention, it is a gift from God.
However, the brief moment with my son that night, followed by a few more purposeful pauses since then, have taught me that I don’t want to miss them any more.
I don’t want to miss his heart.
His funny observations or his creative ideas.
So, I’m learning to pause. When I greet him in the morning, I remind myself to pause. To look into his eyes as I ask “How did you sleep, honey?” and mean it. When he gets home after surfing or a youth group event, to actually stop what I’m doing and ask, “How did it go?” And yes, at bedtime…I am trying to cut down a little on the time I spend battling my two-year-old, so I can give a little more time to the teenager. The eleven-year-old can use a little more of my quiet readiness, as well. And the eight-year-old…oh, a listening ear means the world to that one. He is surrounded by noise on all sides.
A pause can come in the form of a question. It can happen in the car when I turn my music low, and turn my blue-tooth off. It can happen while we eat breakfast, or sit at the beach. A pause may deliver pure silence, and sometimes it brings no conversation. Even then, it opens the door for communication when your boy is ready.
A pause says…
“You are worth my time.”
“You are valuable.”
“I am interested in you.”
“No one else matters more right now.”
“I’m not just here to speak AT you.”
Sometimes a pause is the best “I love you” that I could give.
Have you paused enough recently to hear what might otherwise be missed?