When I retrieve my 6-year-old son from after-care each day he is so happy to see me. He greets me with soft eyes that sparkle and gleam, overflowing with joy. He can't wait to tell me about his day and ask me for help with the homework he wasn't able to complete that afternoon. He hugs me tightly to show his affection and has a smile so genuine that it lights up his entire face.
Immediately upon entering my home, I am welcomed by a bubbly voice, rapidly speaking and expressing all the things that went on in her day. That would be my 10-year-old daughter. We normally don't have much time before she has to be dropped off for her dance instruction, so she has learned to move her conversations forward at lightning speed. I ask her to slow down. To expand some of the details. And to share with me a lesson she learned; something she realized that she can do different or better the next day.
About an hour later, the teen arrives. His first question: What's for dinner? He's not as interested in talking. He certainly isn't greeting anyone with delight. He's 16, after all, so every little thing that happens in one day seems monumental. But after a few non-invasive questions, he's offering witty commentary and whimpers of mirth. While his ideal evening probably consists of video chatting with friends while playing Xbox games, he indulges his mama. And it doesn't take long before he's laughing and talking with the family.
As a single mom of three, I often struggle with the ideal of a connected family. What does it mean? How do you achieve it? I am pulled in so many directions, every single day, and I sometimes wonder if my children know how much I want to be there; especially when I am not. And then I reflect. I remember all the little moments that take place throughout our valuable time together. I think of new adventures for us to take and I fantasize about our future interactions. They know that I love them, and I know that they love me, but it's also important to build a deep family connection which will be the glue that binds us for all time.
My children won't be little people forever. When they grow older, I want them to remember. I want them to hold on tight. I want them to be connected. But that is not something that happens on its own. It's not something that magically appears out of thin air. It's a connection that I have created. A connection that I foster through daily actions that are intentionally geared towards deepening the alliance and link that will carry my family onward.
Keeping your family connected matters because it's what grounds us. The relationship between a parent and child is just like any other -- it requires attention, purpose and is hard work to maintain to avoid becoming passing ships. When you create a family, when you bring a life -- or in my case, multiple lives -- into the world, you have a responsibility to ensure that they are not just in the world, but that they understand how they belong to the world. And that connection starts at home. It starts in your family. It starts with you.
Carin shares lifestyle and parenting insights inspired by faith, family, and joy on her personal blog: Memoirs of a Clueless Woman. Get her free eBook, How to Control Your Time and Get Things Done, to learn how to successfully maximize your time usage.