Oh, Busy Parent Syndrome — you know what it is. It’s that ugly beast that rears its head when Mom and Dad are too occupied in adult affairs to spend quality time with their kids, so to ease their guilt they buy their children gifts.
I have fallen ill with this syndrome.
Our household these past few weeks has been tilted at an odd angle — Darwin and I have spent what seems like more than half the week on long day trips to the large nearby city of La Ceiba, on important errands, meeting with lawyers, organizing our board of directors — etc, etc, etc. Without going into details, we’ll say these past few weeks have been quite hectic and filled with heightened levels of general uncertainty and stress.
Family movie nights have thus morphed into kids-watch-a-movie-and-mom-and-dad-go-to-their-room-to-destress, and more than once in these last few weeks I’ve come home with purchased surprises for the kids when I knew I hadn’t come home early enough to spend the afternoon playing or reading with them.
Yesterday some of the symptoms of BPS (Busy Parent Syndrome) worsened as I brought home some cute clothes from a resale shop for our youngest two, knowing that I wasn’t able to offer myself to them during this busy season, but falling prey to the lie that at least I could offer something. Little nine-year-old Gleny was visibly excited to receive her secondhand polka-dot t-shirt I bought her, but after the fleeting thrill wore off she set it down and started chattering my ear off about something else, approaching me eagerly with one of her (rather painful) wrap-her-arms-around-your-neck-and-lift-her-legs-up-bear-hug, obviously more interested in having Mom than anything Mom could buy her. A blob of guilt rose up in my throat, knowing she would have taken an afternoon of juice-carton art projects or sit-in-my-lap time over me doing something or buying something for her.
Sound at all like how we treat our relationship with God sometimes? Go to church, attend small groups, serve in some capacity, are financially generous — do, do, do — but neglect the actual relationship, skirting around it with a lot of busyness without actually embracing His love and reciprocating it?
So last night as a family we took a stand against BPS. We organized a family movie night (and impromptu dance party and creativity competition in the living room), stuck to the plan even though Darwin and I were dog tired, cuddled with the kids on the couch, and enjoyed mugs of hot, sweet milk (a common treat in our home) that I had prepared in our kitchen. It was the most joyful evening we have spent as a family in some time, laughing together and genuinely enjoying one another’s company, setting the demands of the day aside, knowing that to some extent they will always be there.
Jesus’ words trickled through my mind all night and into the morning as I meditated on the sweetness of our evening with the children and how we have so carelessly allowed the demands of the day to interfere with the blessed communion our family enjoys with our Creator and one another: Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own…Be still and know that I am God.