Being there is what really matters

Chad McConnaughey Contributing columnist

Chad McConnaughey Contributing columnist

I once attended a conference where the speaker told a powerful story. I assume that the story was factual and real, but have never really been able to prove it. I will tell you the story now as best I can remember it.

The speaker told of a lady he knew that was a psychiatrist. She had a very good practice and was very well respected. While her business was going very well, her relationship at home with her teenage daughter was not. She was a single mother and was dealing with the typical teenage years where mom doesn’t understand nor have any knowledge whatsoever on what it was like to be a teenage girl. Their relationship had grown so cold that the mother feared she was losing her daughter and their bond.

One day while eating lunch with a co-worker the mom confided in her colleague about the issue with her daughter. She told her she felt like they were just roommates and the connection was gone. Her colleague then gave her some advice that the mother felt would be a complete waste of time. Her advice was to each morning as they got ready to leave for school and work that the mother was to hug her daughter and tell her she loved her. No matter how much her daughter pleaded for her Mom to stop, she was to do this each morning for a week. So, the first morning the mom came up behind her daughter as she was packing her bag for the day and gave her a big hug followed by a kiss on her head. She said I love you, and then left for the day. Obviously, the daughter was upset by her mom’s invasion of her personal space and let it be known that she didn’t appreciate it.

Day after day that week the mom repeated the same procedure, each day trying to catch her daughter at a weak moment in which she could hug her. Toward the end of the week the daughter seemed to fight the embrace a little less, but the mom wasn’t sure if that was an accurate assessment. She met with her colleague at the end of the week to reveal her findings of how the trial had went. The mom explained it was a tough week, but that maybe her daughter fought it a little less toward the end of the week. The mom was then instructed to not hug her daughter the following day. That morning the mom rushed out of the house and simply stated she had to go and for her daughter to have a good day. Before she could get in her car the house door opened and there was her daughter standing at the front door. She angrily shut the door and walked to her mom’s car. As she got to the car the daughter said something the mom never figured to hear. With obvious confusion in her eyes she looked at her mom and said, “Aren’t you going to give me a hug and a kiss before you leave?”

Wow. That spoke volumes to me as I listened to the speaker relay this story. I am not a psychiatrist, nor am I an expert in human relations, but on that day this trial worked for this mom. The mother, who was an expert in her own rights, missed what was right in front of her — the human connection, and what her daughter needed most — her mom! Even though she acted as if her mom’s embrace wasn’t needed or wanted the facts proved otherwise.

I find it interesting that all too often we seem to miss the little things in life. I find myself sitting right in the middle of the boat on this one as well. We look for things that we shouldn’t be, and ignore the things that matter most, and yet we blame others for the predicament we find ourselves in.

I have recently noticed that our youngest child has been more and more ornery. He often seems to pick the very worst times to need our attention. Did you catch that? I will repeat it. He often seems to pick the very worst times to need our attention. My wife and I are likely spending far less time with our youngest than we did with our first child. We don’t seem to have the youth and vigor that we once had. We like to retreat to our home in the evenings and relax by throwing on our pajamas and watching the TV.

As we were watching the television the other night, I remembered this story about the mother and daughter. We need a connection. We long for human interaction and to feel needed and valued. Some might call this being needy, but I disagree. I call it being human. God created Eve as a companion for Adam as He saw that he needed a helpmate, so it should be no surprise that we have the same human emotion and need.

I have attempted to spend more time with our youngest son each evening — to tuck him in bed each evening and help him say his prayers. There will be many occasions in which we fail, moments when we miss the opportunity to be present, but may you always remember that sometimes it isn’t what we say or how we say it, it’s just that we were there.

Hug often, love openly and share your human connection with those right in front of you. They need it whether they say so or not.

Chad McConnaughey is the Highland County recorder.

Chad McConnaughey Contributing columnist McConnaughey Contributing columnist