"Being present builds a child's confidence because it lets the child know that she is worth thinking about." Stephen Grosz, 'The Examined Life'.
In my pursuit of trying to provide a nurturing childhood for my three girls this is the big one. Being present with them. I have so many other ideas of practical ways in which we can provide such a childhood for our children but ultimately it comes down to this. I want my children to know and feel deeply that I have time for them, I want to be present with them and I'm practicing all the time even though it might not seem like it when I lose my patience with them and speak more harshly to them than I should. I keep trying, keep practicing, slowly I'm getting better at it. I listen to what they say, repeat what they said to acknowledge that I hear them, I might even say "I'm listening" and gain their eye contact. My goodness it can be so hard though. Often one of my daughters wants to speak to me while I'm on the phone or have a task I want to finish before the baby wakes up. They have to practice patience too.
Sometimes the best time for me to be present with my girls is at night. They're ready for bed, I've finished with my tasks for the day, the channels of communication are open. I make myself available to them as I sit in their room while they finish clearing up, choosing stories for bedtime. During the day there might not have been much presence on my behalf but there is still time before they go to sleep for some quiet time together. In this time I may just stroke their hair and have a cuddle, they may have an issue from their day at school they wish to discuss with me, we may make plans for tomorrow.
Be present, look in to their eyes, listen, hold their hand, be patient, take a breath; this is the essence of trying to provide a nurturing childhood and if I didn't do it very well today I will certainly try again tomorrow.