Friday, January 22, 2010

day twenty-three: hold on tightly to your children to keep the light burning

"The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out."
                                James Baldwin

Relationships are tricky things. And the closer the people are to us (i.e. the more they see the real us), the trickier they are. This is especially true in our marriage relationship and our child-parent relationships. We must work hard at keeping our kids close to our hearts.

Something that we have found to be true in our relationship with each of our kids—regardless of gender, personality, or age—is that we must hold tightly to it. We must never, ever cease to hold onto those sons and daughters. We must never, ever let loose and let the waves of the world (pressure, work, other relationships, daily living, responsibilities) engulf us and overtake us—and put out the light of that relationship.

It’s hard work keeping our relationships with our children fresh and in good standing. The quote above talks about ceasing to hold each other. We have found that physical closeness is one way to stay close to our children, not only in a literal, physical sense, but also in our hearts.

This isn’t so hard with the littles. Who can resist whisking them up in our arms, swirling around the room, snuggling them in Mama’s bed, rocking them in our lazy-girl chair? I remember when my older kids were little, I would lie on the sofa and read to them. I would make an arc with my legs—and they would “sit in my rainbow.” It kept us close—and for many years thereafter, if one of them wanted to talk or be close or if I wanted one of them to come and be close one-on-one, we would say, “Come, sit in Mommy’s rainbow.”

We had many other verbal cues that the child needed the physical closeness from their parents. Sitting in Mama’s chair, snuggling in Mommy and Daddy’s bed, sitting in Daddy or Mommy’s rainbow, cuddling on the couch….all of these were ways to draw the child close physically, which in turn allowed us to draw the child close emotionally and spiritually too.

Obviously, teens and young adults do not fit in Mama’s rainbow anymore, but they still need our physical closeness, nonetheless. It’s not uncommon at all for my older daughters to be visiting and snuggle and watch a movie with me in my room, sit in Dad’s arms while we talk in the living room, or share my chair and a half while we look at pictures on the computer or talk about our days.

We need to look for ways to get physically close with our children—to make them feel safe, secure, and loved. To give appropriate physical closeness to them. An arm around the shoulder to the teen boy by Dad. Arm in arm walking from the car to the restaurant with my daughter or son-in-law. All of these draw us together….and “keep the sea from engulfing us” and putting out our light of love.

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