I recently attended a luncheon where moms were celebrated as "the heart of the home."
We were asked:
"Is your home a peaceful, forgiving place for your children?"
"What does your home say about what your family believes is important?"
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"Do your kids WANT to be home with you? Are they happy there?"
After we all had a good laugh with shared stories of non-peaceful third grade science project work, harried dinners where nobody actually sat at the table and a race to find a child who had been playing outside and then vanished into a friend's house, without telling anyone, we had to agree that life gets in the way of these seemingly lofty goals.
However, it was a good reminder, as we enter the most hectic time of the year, to be as intentional about our families, themselves, as we are about our families' schedules, activities and plans.
This season, I really do want to purposefully be still with my children. Realistically, it will be in between flag football practice and dance class, but I CAN have conversations with them. I must choose the time in the car, with one child, to be used for a conversation and not the cell phone. I must prioritize the listening and not the school binder review. I must invest in board games on the floor, and let the bedtime clock tick a little bit later.
My tendencies have always been task and list-related.
From start to finish, my day can be planned to accomplish a lot. In cracking the whip, though, on the "hurry up and get dressed, hurry up and eat, hurry up and do homework, hurry up and take a shower, goodnight, go to sleep," I am probably missing some things that don't have a place on my task list.
And I'd be better off, not missing them.
At this same luncheon, the speaker encouraged us to ask our kids to name some of our family traditions. She predicted that, after all of the usual holiday traditions, if pushed, our kids would come out with some things that are special and important, in their minds, that might not even be on our radar. Wouldn't it be a shame to NOT make sure a tradition happened, just because we didn't know about it?
So, I tried this. Yes, first came "turkey for thanksgiving" and "grandma's house for Christmas."
"I actually can't wait for the night before Thanksgiving, when we make chili in the crock pot."
What?!? Did we do that last year? Apparently so; they remember, I do not. We will be having chili, next Wednesday, for sure. What if I had not known this? Oh my.
"I like it that we always plant the flower pots on a the first really warm Sunday, after church, in the spring." Um, okay. My memory of doing that this year, was me planting the flowers, kids running around outside, completely disinterested. But, thank goodness, the tradition is in the memory of the participant. I certainly didn't remember that it was a Sunday. I guess this tradition will stay, too.
How refreshing to discover that some, seemingly irrelevant, activities are much more important, in a child's memory! What perfect timing for this message to reach me.
I aim to start a few more traditions, by simply "being" with my family.
And leading with my heart.