America. Land of the free, home of the consumer. If there is one thing that I believe humanity-future will have to say about humanity-present, it's that this is the age of mass consumption. It's an unprecedented amount of food we eat, entertainment and media we take in, and STUFF that we purchase. Sure, there are now simple living movements popping up all around us, but by-and-large we are still consuming at an astronomical rate. And I believe all this consumption has led to a parenting lie that is not only incorrect, it's toxic. It's this: "I love my child, so I want them to have everything, and the best of it." Simply put: I would respond by saying, "I love my my child, and she doesn't need more stuff and the best of it, she just needs more ME and the best of ME."
I often feel a tension to buy Margot more stuff. Sometimes it's rooted in a genuine desire to bring a smile to her face -- like a new toy I know she'll love. Then sometimes it's to bring a smile to mine -- like dressing her in a super cute outfit. I'd say that this battle of genuine expressions of love vs. sneaky self-serving motivations are at play in all of us.
This weekend was Margot's birthday. She turned two years old, and I'm absolutely blown away at how fast time slips away. If there is ever a time when this inner battle of consumerism rages, it's holidays and birthdays. The irony of that statement -- that time moves fast -- is that my time is also the most precious gift I can actually give my daughter. She won't necessarily every toy I purchase for her. She will remember the moments we spend laying on a blanket in the park pointing at trees and birds and clouds and how it makes her feel safe and secure and teach her to slow down and be inquisitive. Another stuffed animal will not teach Margot what empathy and love is to look and feel like. That's my job. The only way I do that effectively is by giving myself to her. Giving my attention to her. Giving her my T-I-M-E. and not just my time, but give her the best of me.
Do I want "more" and "best" for Margot? Absolutely. But if more and best are not tied to the most fundamental parts of being a good father -- it's not actually best, it's just more, and it's probably actually worse.
Let's not just GIVE more and best, let's BE more and best. Cheers, dear ones.