I mentioned before that our move to Tennessee was very intentional. Early on in our marriage Ryan and I sat down and discussed how we wanted our life to look and feel, our marriage, our children, and priorities for our family. This conversation included questions such as, how do we want to raise our children? What does that look like in terms of discipline and this sense of entitlement kids seem to have today? How are we going to model this life of simplicity for them? What is our highest goal in searching out this sort of life? It boiled down to this; we wanted to strip away the stuff that the world dangles as the ONLY way to live, the pressures, the vortex of entertainments, the wants and desires masquerading as needs, a modern day inability to sit and be still with one’s own thoughts or feelings, and a 1st world drive that often swallows inner peace in one big gulp.
We have discovered through stepping away from the noise, the dizzying madness that commercialism touts as a superior way to live, we have gained more meaningful and intimate relationships with one another, which in our reality as a blended family amounts to a significant amount of work, I believe, to even come close to getting this new found reality somewhat correct. I desired to embrace this idea of growing closer to one another, especially connecting on a deeper level with my adopted children, but I had to incorporate concrete decisions into my life because there are multiple distractions vying for my attention as a wife, friend, aspiring writer, blogger, and mom of seven. Here are a few adjustments I have personally made to intentionally grow closer to my husband and my children.
1. Facebook. This is by far the biggest decision I made and it was embarrassingly difficult to follow through with. I erased the Facebook app on my phone, no big deal, right? Wrong. Now what in the world was I going to do if I had two seconds of boredom while pumping gas? I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook to begin with. I hate what a time suck it is, I hate that there is this obsessive need to know what’s going on with everyone at all times, I hate that people in the publishing industry have said to me, “In order to get published, you need to market yourself and this includes Facebook.” In numerous ways it has harmed our society and families in indescribable ways because there is no legitimate reason to be all up in everyone’s business 24 hours a day, but there I am, on it, engaging with it, despite my better judgment at times. I decided I was sick of being a slave to Facebook at every waking moment and my phone was the biggest culprit in this aspect. Waiting in the carpool line, bored, check Facebook. Clerk taking too long at Walmart, check Facebook, family night at a park, check Facebook. “Mommy, mommy look at me on the swing!” not nearly as exciting as the woman I haven’t seen in 25 years rant about her ex-husband and what a scum bag he is, right? Needless to say, I deleted the app on my phone and it has been incredibly freeing. I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll say it again, I will probably not be a life longer on Facebook. I have too many issues with it.
2. I got rid of our microwave and our Kitchen Aid, and all sorts of other dumb little gadgets that were never used. I know, I’ll get grief about the Kitchen Aid but I didn’t use it, EVER. Kneading bread is therapeutic for me, and I didn’t want to give up this highly enjoyable activity to a dough paddle. In doing this, (and I am a woman who enjoys being in the kitchen) I’ve noticed that cooking has become a family affair. The girls love to help out, peeling apples, kneading bread, stirring batter, and because we’ve eliminated so many of these “helpful devices,” I find I have a significant amount of time bonding with my children while teaching them certain skills.
3. I gave up my gym. My wonderful sanctuary of peace and strength while rocking out to Bon Jovi’s, It’s my life. I gave it up for a 30 minute hike with my husband, alone, most nights after dinner, up and down hills and crevices, where we reconnect with one another and talk about the day. Also in giving up my gym, I forfeited this false sense of control I was holding onto instead of trusting God’s headship over my life, see Testosterone Filled Female.
4. Ryan and I have both consciously incorporated the kids in activities that we enjoy. For example, I love to crochet and craft, (and cook) he loves to fish and wander around our property looking for snakes, these are things that are admittedly more relaxing to do alone but we’ve found that we are able to enjoy these activities with greater frequency if we are willing to involve our children’s interest in them as well. What used to be a once a month activity, becomes a weekly activity if the kids are split between two parents, both engaging them in separate activities.
5. Finally, lately after the girls have showered, they’ve asked me to braid their hair before bed because they like to wake up to curly hair in the morning. Such a simple thing that takes 15 minutes or so but I’ve found that it’s a meaningful way to connect with each of them through communication and touch - sounds like just about every other female in the world, communication and touch :-)
Just keep livin!!