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No age limit to quality time
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I sat, a few days ago, as a speaker lectured his audience on animals.

“This creature is one of a few that will actually eat its young,” intoned the expert solemnly.

Almost without thinking, I muttered under my breath: “Most any parent could understand...”

A couple of nearby rows giggled. A few parents gave an understanding nod. A young girl in front turned, giving a horrified look. A friend in the next seat — who has no children — rapped a scolding pat on my wrist. Well ... If you’re a parent, you do understand.

Children can be our greatest joy and our biggest heartaches, sometime over just the span of a few moments. Your child can frustrate you to wit’s end but, seeing him or her walk through the door with a smile and a hug ... Well, that can also melt away a multitude of misfortunes.

Most parents don’t want to “intrude” on grown children’s lives. At the same time, though, many wish longingly these so-called grownups would show more interest in mom and pop.

After all, parents spend two decades devoting more waking hours than their bodies can sometime comfortably afford for children’s upbringing. How dare they just waltz blissfully away into adulthood, showing up back home mostly for holidays?

Craving a child’s embrace once again apparently prompted one mother to stop and chat at my lunch table the other day.

I know all three of her sons. Each is a successful young man, busy with work, family, etc.

But mama is missing them.

“I want to call ‘em up and have them come over for a spend-the-night party with me,” she said, apparently gauging my reaction. “I just want ’em to spend some ‘quality time’ with mama.”

“Go for it!” I immediately responded. “It’s a great idea and I understand completely.”

“Do you?” she responded tentatively. “What do you think they’ll say? I can just hear them now when I call...”

Squinching her face, she adopts a high, whiny voice.

“Whaaaaat?!? You want me to do whaaaaat?!?”

“I’m 65 years old, but sometime I still just need to have my boys around me,” she said, spreading her hands in a plaintive gesture.

“Yes, that’s how they will react,” I agreed, with a laugh. “But you go ahead and ask anyway. Don’t just ask — insist!”

For some unknown reason, my blessing seemed to satisfy her and off she went with a smile. I hope she will follow through. I suspect she won’t.

Moments later, I think of my own mother, now 90. The way her face lights up when I walk in her room makes me feel like a child again. No matter how many times I see her in a week, it never seems enough, to her, or to me.

Being able to give enough, of what we can’t always get enough, isn’t easy.

Robert Williams is an Effingham native who publishes weekly newspapers in Blackshear, Alma, Folkston, McRae and Forsyth. His commentaries can also be heard on Georgia Public Radio. Email him at