Parents’ presence, not presents, the key


‘”A mother understands what a child doesn’t say.”
— Anonymous

This is a tale of two moms.

For those of you who have been enjoying the Olympics, you may have already shared this thought.

In the stands

The mother of Michael Phelps is the mom we all would want to have on our side, cheering us on in both the little and the large things in life. I have had almost as much fun watching her and her joyous, stunned reactions as I have enjoyed watching her miraculous son shatter records and bring home record-breaking gold.

Touring Beijing

And then there is the mother of Nastia Luikin, the petite United States gymnast. Cameras captured the young girl attempting to reach her mother by cell phone during her run for Olympic gold. Time after time, she would try and never once reach her mother.

The next morning, during a television interview, her mother said she was out touring Beijing during the competition. Watching her daughter compete, she said, just makes her too nervous, so she left the building and turned off her cell phone.

The look on her daughter’s face during the interview made me ache for her. I keep wondering what, if anything, that beautiful, young girl has said to her mother.

Sometimes, there just are no words for such hurt.

Presence, not presents

Dr. Anthony Witham has been credited with the following quote: Too much love never spoils children. Children become spoiled when we substitute ‘presents’ for ‘presence.’

I couldn’t help but think of this quote as I thought of this young gymnast. She has been raised with every opportunity to excel in her sport, as her parents came to the United States from Russia when she was just a toddler, building a gym in Texas to concentrate their lives on teaching gymnastics.

I have to wonder, though, what her day-to-day life has been like as she shared her parents with their protege clientele.

Michael Phelps has said his mother was there for him through every swim meet of his youth, even the meets that didn’t mean a thing. She was a constant presence because she wanted to be there, cheering on her only son. She has said she felt no pressure to do so, just joy and pride in being able to be there. His father is estranged from his children, which is truly his loss.

Watching his mother celebrating with her daughters in the stands, there is no doubt that this is an exceptional family.

“Motherhood is a partnership with God,” is a quote by an anonymous writer. Our children are a blessing granted to us, and it is our privilege to be there for them in whatever way we are wanted or needed.

Christian Scriver wrote, “God has given you your child, that the sight of him, from time to time, might remind you of His goodness, and induce you to praise Him with filial reverence.”

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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