These Are the Days

I was reading some parenting advice lately that stressed the importance of building a relationship with your children, and how a healthy parent-child relationship will generate more responsiveness and cooperation when those difficult conversations come along, which they most surely will, as our children and their problems get bigger.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently.

My parents did a good job of building a comfortable relationship with my brother and me.  To this day, we’re all quite close.  But I struggle with this.  I enjoy my children, some stages more so than others, of course, but oftentimes when we are in the car or at the breakfast table, there is silence.  It’s a comfortable silence, but silence nonetheless.

I often think that I should be initiating light conversation.  Sometimes I try to ask questions or point things out along the road, but often I allow music to fill the void in the car, and the breakfast table can be remarkably quiet.  (And I detest those silly car ride games, even though I know I should play along.)

I’m trying to get better about at least sitting down to the breakfast table with the kids in the mornings, not removing myself to enjoy my coffee with my Google Reader.  It’s been hard this summer because the kids all get up and eat at different times, but once school starts, I am making it a priority to be present with my kids in the mornings.  The computer will have to wait until the bus leaves our neighborhood.

This summer has been a nice break in the school year routine.  I’ve enjoyed having my kids around more, particularly my oldest, who I don’t see much during the school year.  He’s been helpful and pleasant, and he likes to help me cook and push the grocery cart when we run errands.   (Although I can’t say I’m not looking forward to school starting up again.  Fortunately for us all, they are looking forward to it as much as I am.)

The other day we were all walking into the grocery store together, and I reached my hand back towards my 3-year-old, as I often do when we’re walking along.  But the hand that filled mine was not the soft, pliant paw of my littlest one.  It was the long, lean, firm hand of my 9-and-a-half year-old son.

I hadn’t expected that.

I gave his hand a squeeze and loosened my grip, but he didn’t let go.  So I continued to hold his hand and started to swing our arms in camaraderie as we bantered about something trivial and silly.  He walked with me like that all the way across the parking lot and into the store, where he grabbed a cart and started ordering his sisters around like a typical first born.

I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that my almost-10-year-old son will still hold my hand in public.  I’m sure those days are numbered, so I treasure that memory.

As I was driving home, I thought about that article, and my insecurities about cultivating a comfortable relationship with my kids.  And I thought to myself, “I guess I’m not doing too badly after all.”


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23 Responses

  1. Great post! I’m all teary eyed now so thanks! I find myself escaping into the office when I get a free moment instead of hanging with the kids (like right now). I need to stop doing that, too. I don’t think we as parents realize that those few minutes out of the day to sit with them at the table or on the couch makes a world of difference to them. Ok, I’m off to sit with my babies. Thanks, Jo-Lynne!

  2. You are 100% right. I think we’re all guilty of the radio in the car or the laptop at the breakfast table. My kids are growing up so fast. I don’t think we can all eat breakfast together during the school year but I will be more concious of the times I am too busy with something else to talk to them.

    Excellent post!

  3. Great post! You have a handsome young man on your hands. My oldest is 9 years old (going into 4th grade) and still will give me a kiss goodbye and sometimes hold my hand. I know the days are numbered here as well. Enjoy those times and don’t give yourself too hard of a time. I think all of us as parents are doing the best we can.

  4. I’m typing this with tears in my eyes. You’re one blessed mom. I know you’ll “treasure these things in your heart” forever.

    Don’t worry about always having something to say to your children. Your presence gives them comfort. I think that sometimes moms talk too much and children tend to tune them out. Just my opinion!

  5. Yesterday my 12 year old suddenly took my hand, and didn’t let go for a while. It was a nice reminder of what was, as it doesn’t happen very often.

  6. My oldest has never been the snuggler that my youngest one is so I try to treasure every moment that she wants to snuggle up with me or hold my hand. Last night she promised me that she would never be too old to snuggle with me or give me kisses, but I know that isn’t true. Thanks for the reminder to slow down and cherish the moments.

  7. It’s nice to know that having a comfortable relationship with your kids isn’t a cut-and-paste formula. It looks different for each person and with each kid! 🙂 My oldest (2yo) has been coming up randomly lately and saying “You’re my best Mom ever!” Even though I know I’m her only Mom, it still makes my day every time!

  8. Great post! I often find it hard to slow down and connect with my kids. We are always running to practices, work, school, church, etc. Your post was a good reminder of the importance of slowing down to connect, listen and cuddle.

    I don’t like silly car games either. However, I found some travel talkers at the American Girl Place that I LOVE. It is a key chain with 30-50 questions you can ask. It’s small enough to store in the glove box of the car. Some are girl related but you can alter the question to appeal to your son as well.

  9. great story! my 8 & 10 y/o still do that sometimes and I try to walk a little slower and appreciate the moment, because I know it’s not going to happen much longer:o

  10. What a wonderful post! I am in tears, granted it is probably all the hormones and emotional stuff I have been through this week! God bless your son for giving you that precious gift of motherly confidence when he probably didn’t even realize he was doing so! Thanks for the uplifting post! Have a great weekend.

  11. Loved your post! There is something special about moms and sons. I just dropped my son off at college yesterday (tissue please!) and on his last night at home, late at night, he comes into my room and asks we could say prayers together. My heart melted as we said childhood prayers and asked for blessings for his new life away from home. Throughout all the struggles and worries and fears of parenting…I feel like I must have done something right! Enjoy your boy!

  12. Boys love their mothers and I think, always have a special relationship with them. My son is way more lovey than my daughter. And I so hope that he stays that way.

  13. Oh, this made my kind of cry. What a sweet boy. Not every functional, healthy family looks the same. Advice is great, but is not a set in stone, one-size-fits-all guide to life. Clearly y’all are doing just fine.

  14. It sounds like you’re doing a great job, Jo-Lynne. All kids are different, and honestly can’t be compared, even at the same age. My 9 year old son wouldn’t have been caught dead holding my hand, but we have a great relationship now. Don’t worry about the silence — do you have a house full of introverts? Silence is comfortable for them. We often have silence in our family, and if there’s lively conversation, it’s often my hubby and I. But the conversations we DO have are deep, intellectual (for the most part), and interesting. There will come a time when, instead of your kids being “around” the house and your making an effort to be “with” them, they’ll all peel off to their rooms, and you’ll be left alone in the den. Enjoy these days until then.

  15. As the mother of two grown sons, I want to tell you that you are so wise to treasure the moments you’re describing. When my boys were young, nine was my favorite age, partially because they still held my hand in public. As they grew, handholding went away (by 10, in fact!), but courteous behaviors like opening doors and pushing the grocery cart became habit. So, when you get to the teenage years, try to remember that some day you’ll look at this boy and realize you not only raised a son, you raised a gentleman.

  16. nice post! because it is a nice one. talking about your insecurities and how you feel about your relationship with your kids is a tough job. But at the same time you feel relieved and you know where are the flaws in your actions… and as i read this post i came to realize that every thing you found out to be strange, you have resolute to make a change for it… which is indeed a nice thing. best of luck for the new initiation for a better relationship with your kids 🙂 🙂

  17. I love the post.
    It breaks my heart to think about how quickly my son will be grown and gone. I sometimes resent being bogged down with kiddy upkeep & daily tasks, but other times really resonate with me when we get some moments together that I know I will always treasure!

    I always feel like I am doing things wrong with parenting, but I realize that the only wrong thing to do would is not try at all and not work toward something better for us both. Being a great mommy is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Your great kids are the proof that you are a great mom!

    Thanks for the open and frank mommy talk.

  18. Lovely post – so great to enjoy these moments.

    Peace and quiet at the table – I wish! Never much silence around – we have chatterboxes 🙂

    Now I have my iphone, I can quickly check my mail before the kids are down for breakfast, so I too am not planning to “warm up” the laptop until later.

  19. Many years ago I heard someone say that they never turn the radio on when their kids are in the car. It’s one of the few times you have a “captive” audience with them and can talk about anything you want. Because of that I committed to myself that I would do the same thing….sure I’m not up on all the latest music and I never hear the news (which my kids don’t need to hear most of anyways) but we always have great conversation in the car. I don’t have to start it all the time either. Once they get used to it (mine have always been cause they don’t know any different) the conversation will flow freely. My kids still love music, they just listen to it on their own time. Funny thing is that even when I’m in the car alone I seldom turn on the music. I enjoy the quiet and often find myself using that time alone to talk to God! I think he likes hearing from his children as much as we like hearing from ours!! 🙂

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