“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” – Mother Teresa
“I have plans with my friends all weekend” your kids say when you ask about their weekend. Or sometimes the roles are reversed, “Kids, make plans, I/we are busy all weekend.” Then Monday’s storm continues into the rest of the week and the following weekend turns into the weekend prior. At the end of the month, you find yourself reflecting, realizing that you really haven’t been together as a family all month.
This scenario doesn’t play out in our household quite like this, but I could easily see how it could, especially as our kids grow into more and more independence: everyone has their own calendars and agendas, their to-dos, and places to be. Weekends turn into picking up, dropping off, handing over car keys, passing one another quickly in doorways, and communicating via text. Way before it gets to this level of coexisting with one another, I hit the brakes; we hit the brakes.
We tell the kids, “Tonight is family night or today is family day or it’s family weekend.” They have grown up hearing our time spent together as stated. But it’s not spending, it’s investing. When you put your immediate family first, you never look back with regret. You know you have laid a foundation that is stable while emphasizing the importance of being there for your family. When your family needs you, you make yourself present.
I was listening to the Bob & Sheri show on 107.9 the Link one morning this week – Addie and I listen every morning on the way to school. While Sheri was sharing a story about being at the hospital for her niece who had just given birth, she said “When family needs you, you go.” I knew at that moment what I needed to write about. I also thought about my drive with Addie every morning to school. So many have asked me if driving her to school downtown (or uptown as they say in Charlotte) has gotten tiresome. No, not at all. Our morning drives are an introduction to the day, time together, memory makers.
When you miss you family or need them, you need to call them out. Immediately. And they need to stop what they are doing and listen. My son made me stop this weekend. After noticing that Addie and I get home later many evenings, after picking her up from school and running to the grocery store along with other errands, he said to me, “You spend more time with Addie.” Even kids know that all time counts as time together. And I am so appreciative that he shared that with me.
So this past weekend, he and I went to breakfast together. No phones. Just conversation. It was what we both needed. And then we all had breakfast together the next morning. Like money going into a bank, no matter how small or large the deposit, it adds up to stability. Most often, your children become what you are, so show them what you want them to be: the stronger the roots, the sweeter the fruits.
On a side-note, I am a five time caller (Bob & Sheri and Matt & Ramona) who uses an alias (my name is too much of a giveaway): it all started while driving thousands of miles as a pharmaceutical rep. Maybe this will be a separate post in the future…