A mother sitting on a couch listening to her son, engaged in a heartfelt conversation. She is smiling, showing genuine connection and presence.

Genuine Connection: Shifting from Gifts to Presence

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The other day, my friend was telling me a story about when she was a very new stay-at-home mother. She explained that when her husband returned home from work, she found herself feeling the need to list all that she accomplished during the day. He kindly sat her down, looked into her tired eyes and said, “You don’t have to give me an account of what you’ve done. What I want to know is, did you have a good day with our daughter?” It was important to this man that his wife understood that he wasn’t at all concerned with how productive she was in his absence. What mattered to him was the simple act of his wife being with their new little girl—that presence was what he regarded as the true accomplishment of the day. 

Aside from wanting to clone this majestic man, I love this illustration of what an act of love truly is. While boxes of candy, flowers, and stuffed animals are thoughtful, giving someone undivided attention is the genuine gift…especially in 2024. I don’t know about you, but most of my time with friends and family is arrested by multiple iPhone surveillance scans. Listening, asking questions, learning more about what brings someone joy, what they’re looking forward to, accomplishments they’re proud of, things in the future they’re concerned about—all of those things are an opportunity for honest and authentic connection. What a gift!

Listening with Intention in Parenthood

I’ll never forget this example of the power of listening from when my children were little. On the way to summer camp, one of my toddlers always seemed sad. Because this was before I recovered from my control issues, I wasn’t worried about my son Team, I was worried about me! We had spent so much flippin’ money on this camp, so that ungrateful long face was bothering the c-r-a-p out of me. Serendipitously, someone happened to give me a parenting book that brought to my attention how we often react to our children.

Maybe some of these parenting responses sound familiar to you too? 

  • Kid: I’m hungry.
  • Parent: How can you be hungry, we just ate?
  • Kid: I’m cold.
  • Parent:How can you be cold, I just put your sweatshirt on?
  • Kid: I’m tired.
  • Parent:What do you mean you’re tired? You just woke up from a nap.

As a young parent, I often fell victim to this all-too-familiar back and forth exchange with my kids. I wasn’t really listening to what they were saying. But the book I was given suggested, rather than questioning your child, just repeat what your child stated as a question. Seemed easy enough!

When we were driving home that afternoon, I asked my sad camper, “How was camp today, buddy?” And he replied, “I didn’t like camp.” Team, I was ready to bust into my usual, “What do you mean you didn’t like it? How can you not like camp?” But, instead I listened to the book’s suggestion. I repeated what my child said, but phrased it as a question: “You didn’t like camp?” And you know how the little nugget responded? “I don’t get enough snack.” It was the cutest, most heartbreaking thing ever. The poor tiny bugger was hungry! Now, if I had fired off all of my opinions, I never would have gotten to why he wasn’t a happy camper. It had nothing at all to do with the camp and had everything to do with the fact that the little crackerjack was famished. We got that round munchkin some supplemental eats and camp got a whole lot happier after that. 

Valentine’s Day: Beyond Material Offerings

So I come back to this: On Valentine’s Day I can shift from feeling like my accomplishments are my gift to the family to remembering that the time I invest in just “being with” the people I love is the true offering. Feeling seen and heard is a pretty great gift—I know it’s a gift I’d love to receive (hint, hint.)

But let me be candid here for a second, friends, and remind myself of a few things: 1. Mags, keep your hopes high and your expectations low for that gift. And 2. You all know what’s going to happen, right? TeamDe is gonna be all like, “Yeah Mom…thanks so much for listening, but just out of curiosity, did you happen to get those miniature candy heart thingies in the little box like you usually get us for Valentine’s Day?” And then I’ll look deep into their wholesome, gleaming, flowering eyes, I’ll smile and I’ll be all like, “They’re on the island in the kitchen, bubs.”

And there you have it. 

Next week I’m going to invite you to celebrate a new invented holiday with me. Fend for Yourself Day is so much fun, I decided to come up with some others for us all to commemorate. And I’ll share that holiday with you next week so be certain to tune in. TeamConfessioners Happy Valentine’s Day! And if you’re feeling a little love in your heart—please leave a comment below, because what I love is hearing from you!


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  1. so sweet xo

    • Thanks so much Kelly!
      So nice to hear from you 😘

  2. This is awesome Mags 👌 I would love to know the name of the parenting book. Maybe your friends husband can run a working outside the house and appretiating those that choose to work at home raising their family workshop. Love ❤️ you!

    • Andrea! I would love to know the name of the book also 😂
      But, because I know you have loved ones raising kids, anything from the team at “Love and Logic” G Man and I LOVED their stuff and it really helped us in early parenting.
      We wanted the results of strictly guided parenting, but didn’t like the techniques that sometime come along with that (it’s referred to as drill sergeant parenting in the books) and they laid it (consulting parenting) all out for us in a very simple way–AMAZING!!!

      And you’re not kidding about my friend’s husband, what a gem!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it 😘

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