The Gifts We Give Each Other

When our children are small and developing, we can look at parenting as a series of gifts that we give but also definitely receive. We try to give our children the gift of time, the gift of rest, the gift of health and we help shape the environment and provide choices within a framework that supports this. Our children give us their unconditional love, their precious firsts and lasts, the ordinary and extraordinary.

However, the idea of gifting can be a way to reframe how our priorities align in relationships within the home. For example, I may not value an early bedtime, but in understanding and knowing that my spouse needs time at night, I can choose to gift a structure for the family that is suitable and aligns with the priorities I have in loving someone. There are a million and one ways in which we can give gifts to each other in a family setting.

As our children grow and become young adults, it often becomes increasingly hard to shape their environment and the choices they often make are their own. Did we teach them well enough to recognize what they need versus what they want, what gifts others brings to them, but also what gifts they have to offer the family and the world?

Living in harmony often requires an introspection and consensus building approach. It is rare that the adults in the house value exactly the same things all the way around. Or perhaps it is a process of focusing on the large areas of alignment and letting the smaller areas go. Gifting each other in love with what the other person needs, and in seeing what we need and desire from others, can become a profound experience of joy.

Sometimes in discerning this it is easy to start with a list of things that we do not want or do not enjoy, or the things we feel are not going well in our homes. However, this can transform into a place of power to consider how our needs are being met and how we help meet the needs of others where those people are. Where are we all most aligned as a family, where are we not, and how do we build consensus across this divide?

Wishing you all lightness and peace within your homes.

Many blessings,

The Summer Rhythm

School is ending here in the deep south, and we have a summer of opportunity and possibility before us. Summers are days of freedom, usually amazing physical growth for children, many fun activities, and hours of play.

When our children were small, our summer days revolved around play/work of the day (such as a baking day, a cleaning day, a painting day, a day for festival/seasonal preparation, a gardening day) and outside activities with the morning usually being at home outside or at a park and the afternoon being at a lake or a pool (it gets very hot down here!)

Now that our children are older, we have the re-entry of our college-aged student for summer with work obligations, our rising high school senior who has obligations this summer academically and in her own work, and our twelve year old who can have a more similar summer to past summers although now constrained by my return to work outside the home and my work schedule. For these reasons, I find we do need a bit of structure to our days. Perhaps you are feeling this as well depending upon the ages of your children or your life situation.

Having a simple framework for when at home in the summer can also be a big help towards staving off any summer bickering between siblings if that is an issue and a relief to children to know they have long stretches of time to play, but also special things to do, (even if it is special things at home) that makes fantastic summer memories. I am still looking at what days we will be home and what days we will be out. I also look at what days we will swim, what days we will be with friends and what days of the week in which we may just be home (no swimming and no friends to play with but just a good ole’ family day).  I never do too much in the way of camps due to cost, but this summer our rising senior has an opportunity for a horseback riding camp at a university and our twelve year old is going to do his first week ever away from home in an overnight camp.

Mostly I am concerned with the small things – working on the farm, catching fireflies, having friends over, camping and eating smores, going to the lake or a public pool and just being together. (Along with all the decluttering and homeschool planning – those are posts to come!) In general, I think the small ordinary things are actually the glue of summer. It reminds me that in my religion, this time of summer after Pentecost is considered “Ordinary Time” and yet it often is such a big time of physical growth and mental preparedness for the tasks ahead in the school year. It is anything but ordinary, just in the same way the world of nature is anything but ordinary in summer.

May we all find the special and the sparkle in the ordinary this summer. What are your plans for rhythm this summer?