The group text goes out….. “Meatballs with tarragon cream sauce over pasta and broiled asparagus. Let me know who’s planning on being here for dinner- Momma”. This is an actual text I sent to all four of my children, enticing them to gather as a family, with a very useful tool I have in my mother arsenal….food. My kid’s ages span from preteen to young adult.
Independence has become more and more a part of their lives and my momma-hold on them has slowly had to loosen its grip. I remember so clearly the days of bare-toed toddlers, snuggles after naptimes – kissing warmed flushed cheeks and burrowing my nose into downy hair. I remember them gathered around me on the bed reading picture books, my best character voices sinking them deep into worlds of color and imagination. I remember bath time, the silly bath tub song we sang when it was time to get in the tub and then scooping them up in a towel, papoosed in my arms as they snuggled closely into me to get warm. The smell of my clean babies… a forever memory.
A new season is upon our household. I sometimes long to go back to the days of the bath tub song, picture books and snuggles after naptimes but although I do pine for those sweet days, I also cherish this season I am in now. Our children’s growing independence is something I think we as parents want all of our children to healthfully move into. The thing I am most mindful of during this season, is acknowledging and encouraging my children’s independence and growth, while also maintaining genuine relationship and connection with them.
I have a large chair in the corner of my living room. Its brown leather is crackled, soft and worn and several stains speak of its well-used history. This is where I wait. This is where I pray, read and sit up late at night straining to hear the front door open. Once that face finally appears around the corner, my heart and mind relax and I am once again grateful that this independent one is back under my roof and within arm’s reach….learning to loosen the grip isn’t always easy.
I have come to terms with and am learning to stride in this new season, but I also have to be creative in finding ways and time to connect with my maturing family. There are a couple of things that help me facilitate connection with my teen and young adult children, and one of them is to be willing to stay up late. My husband and I have always been somewhat of night owls, but we have realized our best talks with our children often happen late at night when they walk in from a date or event out. We are a little more tired these days, but we are often willing to sacrifice sleep in order to steal a moment, an hour, for good conversation and connection with our child.
My best kept secret and strategy to keep relationship flowing and my family connected during this season of independence is, as I mentioned earlier, food. The idea of food might sound too simple, but kids of ANY age will be enticed by food. I love to make delicious meals and I lure my family with the smells of garlic simmering in olive oil or with sounds of vegetables sizzling in the wok. If my kids are not at home I call or text them to give them a most descriptive image of the meal awaiting them. I can even make breakfast for dinner sound gourmet if I have to. The point is, I am creating a gathering, a purpose for meeting, a time of fellowship as a family. Whether that gathering be around a take-out pizza or a gourmet meal it doesn’t matter…. Provide it, and they will come!
By Kudoso Kontributor, Kimberly Bridwell