Saturday, August 11, 2012
Time, Talk, and Touch: Show Me You Love Me
Like each of us who parent, there are those times when I think I've got it right and all's right with the world. Then there are those other times when I fail, regret, and wish I could go back and re-do the things I say, the things I do, the ways I react. With all these ups and downs in my mothering, there's one thing I've learned over the years. One thing I keep coming back to over and over is:
How essential it's been for me to love my children as individuals.
Loving them individually.
Yes, this is kind of "duh" or obvious, but one day it just hit me how important, how essential, how powerful is this idea of reaching the one as a parent. Especially for families with multiple children.
Loving them as they need to be loved. In the ways they need to be loved.
Through a lot of observation, deep reflection, and Spirit-guided inspiration, I can see that in order for my children to feel loved, they need these three things. Not just one, not just two, but all three:
Time, Talk, and Touch.
Time together, just you and I. Outings, trips, and fun activities planned and geared to their interests. A child invited to come along when errands need to be run. Playing a game on the floor. Reading a book together. Saying a prayer together. A breakfast, lunch, or dinner date. An impromtu picnic in the park. Getting a treat. Going on a walk. Cooking something yummy together in the kitchen. Working side by side. Teaching a skill.
This week felt good to me.
I took each (of the ones still living at home) individually on different days, shopping for the new school year. Other years we've done it as a all day marathon group thing, but I'm finding that I work better this way just one-on-one in this department, even if it takes a better part of my week and time away from home. I think they like it better this way, too. It would just be too overwhelming and exhausting otherwise. Oh, and we both liked the idea of getting a treat to commemorate our time together and our good purchasing deals. (Their choices: Eliza a frozen mint ice cream sandwich, Sam a fruit smoothie-- that one was a surprise to me!-- Isaac a mango-orange Julius.) That made our time together extra special and memorable!
To talk with each other: to connect, listen, and understand. Finding those tender, fleeting moments that each day brings. Sitting on the porch swing for an after- dinner chat. Frequent phone call check-ins with these young adults who've left home. (But so need me still.) Those times the teens come home late at night and my sleep's curtailed with all their eager sharings. (It's so worth it.) Sitting down to an after-school snack and listening to the day's events. Sharing or discussing an idea, something you've read, something you've learned, something that excites you. Getting them cornered in the car on the way to and from school. Writing a love note on the napkin you've tucked in their sack lunch. A letter or note (e-mails and Facebook, too!) are deep forms of heart-to-heart communication that you can cherish and go back to over and over.
For touch. It's so very important. So critical when they are little, but also vital as they age, I'm finding. Holding you on my lap or in my arms. The snuggles. The hugs. The kisses. Holding your hand. Rubbing your back before bed, when your muscles ache, when you're tense, when you need my nurturing. Patting your leg as you sit next to me in the car, putting my arm around you on the couch to make a physical point of expressing my love when we're talking. That gentle, reassuring touch on the arm that says I care. Looking straight into your eyes with my hands on your shoulders, squeezing. Stroking your hair. Laying on the bed and having you come and say, "Can I lay by you?" just for the nearness. Nursing your body during sickness. Wiping your tears away. Bonding this way.
My children need this. Your children need this.
And you know, when I stop and think about it, I see that I need this type of loving, too. I think we all do.
Don't just say you love me.