Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Closeness Without Proximity.

Thanks so much, everyone, for your great comments on my previous post.  I've been pondering over the things said, and they'll show up again in the very near future, as I offer my thoughts on them.

lifeinyonder's concerns are prescient today, as there are so many families in which both parents have chosen to work.  She said:

"And I congratulate you for having the possibility to stay at home and spend so much time with your children! It must be lovely! I hope I too manage to spend much time together with my kids or spend time with them in a way that ties my children to me so that they don't disapear into adulthood. Wonder how one can do that even if one can't be a stay at home mom...? "

While the path I've chosen to stay close to my children is keeping them physically close to me for as long as is healthy for them, there are many ways to stay close to  your children, making lasting and strong relationships with them, if they attend school or otherwise are not physically close to you.

Those ways sound trite, but they work.  With Vern gone to a traditional job five days a week now, we've learned firsthand the value of these.

Make the most of the time you have.

Don't let precious minutes slip by, distracted by things that aren't going to matter tomorrow, or by things you won't remember in a few days.  Focus on the things that are truly important . . . everything else needs to be left by the wayside.  Computers, TV, the internet, and the like are all excluded from our family time.  We play games together (chess is a current favorite, even for our 5yo son), read aloud, do chores together, and otherwise live our lives in concert with one another, involving the children in our tasks, and giving of ourselves in theirs.  I remember knowing families, growing up, whose children were such good friends with their parents.  I longed for that . . . for while my mom is now one of my absolute best friends, I didn't feel nearly as close to her as I wanted to while growing up at home.  It never occurred to me to involve myself in her tasks, as she had always done them alone, and my chores were my own responsibility.  There was no community in housework, something which I try very hard in my own home to foster.  (Foster community, not the lack of it. ;o)

Choose to be happy.

Happiness, love, and kindness are a choice.  Emotions are so strange that way.  They can take us by surprise, as if possessing a life of their own . . . and yet, actions we choose can evoke them, strengthen them, and make them habitual.  (Habitual joy is still joy!)  Stop, breathe deeply, then smile when things get tough.  Calm your voice and clasp your hands when frustration overtakes you.  Everyone loses it to one degree or another from time to time.  Focus on improving the distance between parental meltdowns, on providing yourself space or your own time out when you need to calm down before handling something.  I've recently discovered the incredible value of asking for space when I'm overloaded . . . and my children have caught on with alacrity.  They love it when I can respond to them with patience, and are willing to work with me in order to get it. ;o)

Make your children's lives special.

Show them you are thinking of them, are aware of them, and want to make them happy.  That means allowing them to do things for themselves, as well as providing selfless service.  Notes in lunch boxes, doing fun things together, special surprises of your child's favorite something-or-other . . . whether it's a decoration of their favorite color, or something else.  I've noticed that handmade things are cherished by children, especially as they grow older.  Things that show you've given a gift of self, while children may not think much of it today, will stay with them over time, and coalesce into part of their impression of you.  Be the person you want your children to remember.

And now, speaking of children, I need to go put a couple down for naps. :o)

Thanks so much for reading!!!