She Just Needed To Sit With Me

daughters fatherhood presence
After the world turned upside down a few months ago with COVID, and the stay-at-home orders fell into place, I had to find a new rhythm to my days. Our girls were no longer rushing off to school in the morning, and my commute transformed from a drive through town into the descent down a flight of stairs. We all had to find a new way of being.
And yet despite my physical presence at home increasing significantly, I realize that my mental and emotional presence at home decreased even more. I had a thousand things to think about, worry about, prepare for, plan, pivot, and protect. The world outside our home became all the bigger, and though sweatpants became my daily attire, I have worked more and harder since the shut down than before. 
One mid-morning not too long ago, I made the commute from the basement to the kitchen coffee maker and found my oldest daughter sitting alone at the table. In her typical messy array, she had fully occupied the space with computer, pencils, calculator, and notebook, and looked longingly out the window. We greeted one another kindly, and I poured my coffee. 
"What are you doing here?" I asked. "Is your desk not comfortable?"
"Oh, it's fine. But after memorizing every branch on the tree outside my window these past several weeks, I thought I'd get a different view."
While she was clear in her words, I knew there was more to her meaning. "I need a different view" meant "I'm lonely." Now, she respects and values the work I do. She understands the private nature of my counseling sessions, and does not begrudge the time I spend in the basement. But what she doesn't know is how often I choose to be in the basement for non-private things, and how much I actually could be with her but choose not to. But upon hearing the slightest of lilts in her tone, I knew the tree was but an excuse. What she really wanted was me.
And so, I came upstairs, pushed back her homework sprawl, and made room to sit together at the kitchen table. Though we continued to work on our separate things and each even had headphones in to help us concentrate, I could see her demeanor begin to shift and the longing transform into being found. 
Men, our children need us, yes. And sometimes they need a lot of us, maybe too much. But sometimes they just want us to be in the same room. Our presence is important, and more often than I care to admit, it is easy to give. Yes, I can easily feel overwhelmed by them and their mess and their noise and their everything. And yet, I also know Jesus can use two little loaves of my presence to feed a hungry crowd.
Now, as often as we can, we look at the trees out the kitchen window...together. 
Chris Bruno
Restoration Project CEO 

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