My three year old gets it. All that is necessary to fill him with excited anticipation is to tell him we are going to do something together. The activity matters little. Togetherness is the key.
During the brief forty-five minutes we had this morning between him waking up and me departing for work, he must have asked ten times for me to spend time with him. The asking comes in a variety of forms – will you sit with me; can we watch a movie together; are you going to eat with me – but the heart of the question is constant: Can we be together?
Connection; companionship; unity; family. It is my belief that we do not lose our early years’ desire for togetherness. We grow adept at minimizing its significance, quieting its voice. We learn to ignore it. We all have our own reasons for doing so.
With each instance in which I must reject my son’s request for time with me because I am required to be elsewhere, my heart hurts. Yet there are plenty of times where I also turn him down carelessly, preferring that he leave me alone to do the things I’m more interested in that day or the things I think have to get done. I am imperfect in it, without a doubt, but having children has reawakened my own desire for and value of togetherness.
This isn’t written with undue guilt. We cannot be there with them non-stop. Jobs, obligations, responsibilities, and even solitary endeavors are both necessary and valuable. Yes, my children have to learn the hard lesson that they are not at the center of the world they occupy nor can they count on always receiving what they want from others. My thoughts run less along the line of eliminating those lessons and more along the line of wondering what society, and specifically my own family, could look like if alongside those harder lessons everyone also learned that we do not need to guard our hearts against the natural desire for togetherness.
|Final request of the day: “Will you rest with me?”|
What if I said yes more often, both to my son and to my own timid longing for greater togetherness? What if I factored it more strongly into our Christmas season plans and my New Year’s resolutions? What if I replaced “not right now” with “yes, we can be together” as much as possible? It would be a difference maker for the good, I am sure of it.