Love Equals Time

If I had to pick the most meaningful gift I’ve ever given my girls, the Valentine’s Day present I gave each of them last year surely would be in the running.

It cost me nothing (at least not initially) but kept on giving all year long.

The idea came to me where I do some of my best pondering—in the family minivan.

I was driving home alone from somewhere. I was thinking about how much Lilly and I talk in the car. It occurred to me that, in a few short years, we’ll have to find somewhere else to converse because she’ll be driving herself.

Not surprisingly, this line of thought plowed me straight into the reality that my girls will be grown before I can blink an eye. I normally don’t agonize about that too much—I’m actually looking forward to knowing my daughters as adults and watching them become the women God has designed them to be.

But this particular day, the gravity of helping my children prepare for adulthood collided with the awareness of how fast time is flying by, leaving me with an urgent desire to make the moments that we do have together count.

How can I invest in my girls’ lives right now, while they are still under my roof and guided by my influence? I wondered. How can I be intentional about spending time with them, in a way that meets them where they are as individuals and shows them how much I truly desire to know them?

It’s not that I haven’t been trying to do this since they were small, but that day in the car, I sensed the need to go deeper with it.

And that’s when I got the idea for what I call “Mom Tickets.”

Here’s the thing. Lilly, Molly and I spend a lot of time together, but much of what we do originates with me. When they’re not at school, they like to go grocery shopping with me. They run errands with me on the weekends, and at least one of them is usually up for little outings to local parks and garden centers and resale shops.

I’m grateful that our mother-daughter relationship allows for this kind of companionship, but as they get older, I also want to spend time with them strictly on their terms. That’s what Mom Tickets represent: no hidden agenda or underlying purpose—except spending one-on-one time with my girls, doing something that they want to do with me.

I gave Lilly and Molly each a set of 12 coupons, which I made by hand using a metallic pen and brightly colored index cards (no fancy art or Pinterest-worthy printables here). The accompanying instructions were simple: They could redeem one per month for a low or no-cost activity or outing of their choosing.

No strings attached.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure how this would go over with my then 14- and 11-year-old daughters. Would they even want to use their Mom Tickets? Would they embrace it at first but then forget all about it after a few months? I didn’t know, but I hoped they would like the idea.

And they did.

Molly returns her actual tickets to me each month. She doesn’t even say anything about it—she waits for me to notice the little fuchsia rectangles she’s left on the kitchen table or island. It took me a while to catch on, but now when I see one, I immediately turn it over to discover what she wants to do that month.

Lilly just asks, “Can we do a Mom Ticket this weekend?” And unless I have something I can’t work around (which I normally don’t), the answer is usually yes.

Not surprisingly, Lilly and Molly also choose different activities. Lilly prefers window shopping and talking. We go to Starbucks first, where we chat about everything from friends and boys to the challenges a petite girl faces in fitness class. (I had no idea how hard it is for someone with short legs to use certain pieces of weight-lifting equipment. The struggle is real, folks!)

Phones are mostly out of sight, except for last month, when Lilly helped me post my very first Instagram photo using a fun picture we had just taken at the video rental store. (That was about me, yes, but it fulfilled her long-time desire for me to post on Instagram, so it was really all for her!)

Lilly and I usually conclude her Mom Tickets someplace like Ross Dress for Less, Half-Price Books or Bass Pro Shops, where we try on dresses we’d probably never buy, pilfer through DVDs and look at taxidermy displays (because what else is there to do at Bass Pro?).

As for Molly, she has recently started requesting Starbucks to kick off her Mom Tickets too. But aside from a trip to IKEA where she admired pillows, pulled out almost every cabinet drawer and examined more kitchen gadgets than I could count, nearly all of hers involve doing something at home.

We’ve colored together, played Mario Cart, done eye shadow, built hover boards out of leftover Lego Friends pieces and watched Star Wars in our home theater. We don’t talk much; we mostly just work side-by-side. And that works for us.

As I look back over the last year, I’m glad for all the one-on-one time the girls and I have shared. Initially, though, I’m not sure if Mom Tickets are supposed to become an annual Valentine’s Day tradition.

Maybe Lilly and Molly are tired of them, I think.

There’s only one way to find out, of course.

“Should I do Mom Tickets again this year?” I ask Lilly.

“I’m not gonna pass up free Starbucks,” she says with a laugh.

P.S. I’m linking up this week with Purposeful Faith, #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, Three Word Wednesday, Chasing Community, #HeartEncouragementThursday, FreshMarketFriday, Faith-filled Friday and Grace & Truth.

36 Responses to Love Equals Time

  1. What a great idea! I have felt this this way recently too since my youngest turned 5….

    Blessings Lois!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Aw, Meghan … five’s such a sweet age, don’t you think? So much to learn and discover, and yet still so little. (Says the mom who claims that she’s not nostalgic.) 🙂

  2. Brenda says:

    Awe, I love that, Lois. 🙂 I’m getting closer to the end of those car riding days, too. My youngest (and only minor left) is about to turn 15. Mine are all boys, so some of our best talking came from car rides. I treasure those memories. — Love your girls’ names. 🙂 And, I’m new to instagram too. 🙂 I just joined a few months ago, but I’m kinda loving it. 🙂 — Sweet post, Lois. Thanks for sharing with #ChasingCommunity today. ((hug))

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks, Brenda! I think I’ll probably love Instagram once I get used to it too. Of all the social media platforms that I’ve mostly avoided, it’s the one that appeals to me the most! Hugs, friend!

  3. I absolutely love this idea as a way of committing to spending intentional time with those we love-on their terms. That can be so hard for me and I love the accountability and commitment that comes with this gift! I may have to do something similar with my husband 🙂

  4. Love this idea! My girls are 8 and almost 11, so I know the years of them wanting me around are numbered.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      You know what I’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn, Sarah? They may not want us around in exactly the same ways or in all the same places, but they still want us around. As long as we feed them … 🙂

  5. Love this, Lois. I’ve been pondering time with my son lately too. In the midst of wondering what God has next for me, He’s reminded me to savor the season I’m in right now and the room He’s given me to make my schedule work around my family. It’s a gift – and car conversations on the way to swim practice are some of our best times together. You gave your daughters more of you and I bet this is a tradition that will be fruitful for generations to come! xoxo

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Sounds like we are in very similar seasons, Tiffany. The car conversations are why I’m not all that anxious to move heaven and earth to get Lilly into driver’s ed this summer … there’s plenty of time for that next year too! Thanks for your sweet words about the Mom Tickets … I’ve got a new batch ready to hand out tomorrow! Hugs, friend!

  6. Such a sweet idea, Lois! I love it : )

  7. So precious and such an easy/fun idea, Lois. I’m writing about love this week. Okay if I mention your good idea and link to your post:)

  8. Love this, Lois! We call it “dates” in our family. With three children, this takes some coordination. I always see an improvement in communication and respect when my children get one-on-one time with me. It’s well worth the effort!

  9. Oh, Lois. I love this idea. What sweet times you can have with your girls, building memories and relationship. Our boys are complete opposites too. One is an adventurer. The other is a home body. I think I might “borrow” your idea and see how it works with my boys.

    You are such a great mom.

    And, I liked your Instagram picture. Good for you—stepping out brave. 🙂

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks for your encouragement, Jeanne. There are days when I feel like the mothering thing is going OK, and then there are days when I just want to go to bed and start again tomorrow! (Perhaps you can relate?) And isn’t it interesting how all these different personality types blend (or mash, as the case may be) together in a family? Just this morning on the way to school, one daughter was lamenting how hard it is to take notes in social studies while the other one was rattling off six pages of advice about how to make note taking easier … 🙂

      Let me know how it goes if you try the Mom Ticket thing … I’m curious to know how boys respond to it. I also appreciate your kind words about Instagram … I’m pretty much a social media avoider, but that’s one platform that has the potential to draw me in! And now that I’ve taken that first step, who knows … 🙂

  10. Oh Lois, I love how you create memories with your girls! (And I love the photos of them, too!) When we look back at our traditions and remember the family times that mean the most to us, I think the normal everyday things with those we love are the happiest of times. Grocery store trips with my grandmother and car rides in my aunt’s bright blue convertible are some of my favorite memories that I cherish now that they’re gone. Hoping you enjoy a whole new year of sweet times with your darling girls! xo

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Aw … thanks, Valerie! I think you’re right about those normal, every day memories. A lot of my warm childhood memories revolve around eating supper in the dining room with my parents and all my siblings, sitting at the curb waiting for my dad to come home from work, spending the summer swimming at our local pool, that kind of thing. I love those snippets you shared … special times with special people. 🙂

  11. Ruth says:

    Thanks for the great idea! I hope you don’t mind if I do the same for my kids! I think they’ll love it! 🙂

  12. KellyRBaker says:

    Very cool idea! Thanks for sharing. I might try this even though I homeschool and see my kids all day. I need to implement one-on-one time with my older boys at least.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Kelly, if you try it, I’d love to hear how it goes. Even though you’re with your with your kids all day, I’m guessing they might appreciate the one-on-one attention away from the house, even if it’s only for 45 minutes! 🙂

  13. ~ linda says:

    What a special gift! Your time and love all wrapped into being together. We do need to spend special time with loved ones, whether children, husbands, or parents. We need one another.

  14. Linda Stoll says:

    mom ticket. love love love this.

    only wish i would have been smart enough to have thought of this decades ago.

    now a days, the girls are grown with kiddos of their own. but i can send cards … with gift cards for coffee tucked inside.

    along with my love. and more prayers than i can count …

  15. Lesley says:

    That is such a beautiful gift to give your daughters. Quality time is so precious and I love that you let them set the agenda and do the things they want to do.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks, Lesley. Yeah, letting them set the agenda makes this so much more relaxing for all of us … I’m not trying to get anything done and they get to do things they like. It’s a win-win for all of us!

  16. Trudy says:

    I love the idea of Mom tickets, Lois. Special memories that will last in your hearts. 🙂 It sounds like one of your girls is an introvert and one is an extrovert. Yes, time surely goes quickly, so enjoy every moment you can. 🙂 Love and hugs!

  17. Beautiful, Lois! I love the idea of Mom tickets! I’ve noticed that mother daughter time is significant for my 17 year old and even my recently “adopted” 22 year old daughter. Love that your daughter helped you with Instagram

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks, Betsy. I’ve been surprised at how significant this time thing has been too … it’s not like we don’t spend a lot of time together already. Maybe the key is being focused on them and completely agenda-free! 🙂

  18. Oh, so fun and so heartwarming. What a terrific memory builder!

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