Life is at a low ebb in our home right now. Mostly it’s that we’ve all been sick in turn over a few weeks now (when you’re a family of 6 it takes a while before a virus is done with you), and there are a few stressors from without that are causing turmoil within. It’s just a short season, we know that, but even in those it’s easy to lose perspective.
In the past, my response to times like this was to just knuckle down and press on through; maybe practice thankfulness like a good Christian, or maybe stuff down a bit of resentment… y’know, either/or. But it was about doing something, about pushing an attitude or an action to create a different feeling, or just sucking it up for the sake of my family until things felt better.
But more recently I’ve been drawn to a different, gentler approach: leaning into connection with my family.
I’ve found great comfort in the two year-old’s embrace as we snuggle up to read her favourite book for the hundredth time. She’s buoyed my spirits with her cuteness as she, with great urgency, announces, “I must cuddle Daddy!” while we’re in the middle of getting her dressed. But at the other end of the family, my twelve year-old’s presence in friendship has been so good for my heart, whether we’re chatting on the way to the orthodontist, or we’re finish off the last in the Harry Potter series together (no spoilers please).
This seems kind of obvious, and I’m left wondering why it feels like a substantial shift. I think the difference lies in how I perceive myself: instead of being a pillar for my family that stands strong alone (or with my husband… maybe), I am more interdependent with my kids. Their presence can be a comfort to me, where it used to only be the other way around. And this is a delightful surprise to me as my children get older.
I know I’m late to the game in recognising the importance of relationality (me and the rest of the modern Western world), but I’m getting there. Self-care is sometimes “us-time” rather than just “me-time”. The new move here, for me at least, is leaning into connection with the littler people who used to only need me, and not vice versa. Or so it seemed, though I doubt it was ever so.