Many times, he brings me a paper airplane he's just made and says, "Watch this, Mom. It flies really good." Almost always, I'm busy with something else, like washing dishes, and I give him my half-hearted attention, along with a patronizing comment like, "Yeah, that's really good." He walks away, and I return to what I was doing.
But the other day, I decided to give him my full attention (and praise). I stopped what I was doing, watched his paper airplane flight, and found something encouraging (and sincere) to say about it. It really glided through the air quite well for a few seconds. So I said, "Wow, Gann, that was a really good flight! It stayed up for a few seconds and glided really well--probably because you're such a great pilot." Then I gave him a hug. As he walked away, I noticed he had a little shy smile on his face, revealing a full heart. He knew he had received Mom's full attention and wholehearted praise. And it meant everything to him.
See, it may not matter to us. But it matters to them. Because they matter to us, let's make sure that the little things they bring to us throughout the day, desiring to show us--because they crave our attention and praise--matter to us.
If we don't take time for them, they'll end up feeling like the dishes (or whatever it is that occupies our attention at any given time) were always more important to us than them. Sure, there's a place for saying, "Honey, Mommy's got to finish this up, and then I can watch what you want to show me in five minutes." But that shouldn't always be our response, and certainly not, "I'm too busy right now" (end of story).
As Sally Clarkson spoke about at the MomHeart conference and writes about in The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity, children require our time to feel loved. What if the only thing on our to-do list each day was to show the love of Christ to our husband and children? Although we obviously have practical stuff to do, I think that philosophy should undergird all of our choices and actions through each day of our lives.
I encourage us to think of a practical way today that we can show each of our children that they matter to us by giving each of them a few minutes of our time to show an interest in something that matters to them.
"Love is patient." (1 Corinthians 13: 4).