Every night before my sons fade off into dreamland, we read stories, say our prayers, give nighty night kisses, and try to describe the love we have for one another. Rowan comes up with imaginative ways that cover the whole earth . . . and back. Graham just smiles his big, just a few teeth smile. It is a look of pure love and it may be the best way to show what we truly feel. I always tell them I love them more than my arms can reach. Rowan will stretch out his arms as big as he can and ask, “this much?” I respond, “More,” no matter how far he stretches. It brings a few giggles and friendly competition. And hey, a love competition is one where everyone wins.
Sometimes I wish my arms could stretch farther. I wish they could stretch to California where my husband’s family lives. South Dakota or Minnesota to wrap around my family and up to heaven for those watching from above. I miss them and I miss that my kids miss out on time with them. I grew up surrounded by family. My cousins were my first friends and can still bring a smile with little effort. They know my stories, my successes and carried me through lifes challenges. It was okay to go outside my comfort zone because they were there to catch me and I never had to doubt that. Talk about love, but it doesnt compare to the love you hold for your children.
Building relationships with family across the country and world is much easier today for our children than when I was growing up. A friend moving to a town 25 minutes away felt like a permanent goodbye when I was in high school. Everything moved so fast, writing a letter and mailing it seemed impossible. Then college and everyone went in different directions trying to forge their own path. I realize the importance of keeping and nurturing those relationships today. The friendships that are strong and just pick up like no time has passed are true blessings. I do what I can to build those relationships between my children and their family. Skype plays a big part, telephone calls, and text messages with updates and pictures are also components of building those bonds. A little different than my childhood methods and sometimes I fear social media does not hold the same meaning as those in-person memories. Then I hear my son giggle at his nana when the computer screen opens up or my youngest pointing to a picture with pure joy and exclaiming, “papa.” The memories may be different, but they don’t know any other way and to them, the way it is, is the way it is meant to be. Every now and then we go a step further than a phone call. We send a picture or piece of art work with a note by good ol’ snail mail. Sometimes we send our own version of a hug.
Sending a Hug
- White paper
- Round mailing tube
You can use a role of paper or tape a few sheets together to get your desired length. Then have your child lay down and trace their arms and torso. Getting them to lay still is the difficult part of this project. Trace quickly, it doesn’t last long with little ones. Then decorate and add your little love note.
Finally, roll it up, tuck it into the mailing tube and send a little love.
It would be really nice to click your heels like Dorothy, or stick a forever stamp on and send yourself first class. I would love for my boys to have play dates with their cousins at the lake like I did. Barbie weekends are a normal part of my childhood and the stories of softball games and practices are some of my favorite memories. Since it isn’t that easy, pictures help my boys remember family members. Some of my boys favorite books are photo albums. They love looking through and hearing stories from when they were younger. I keep pictures and cards we get during the holidays and share stories with my children about aunts and uncles they don’t see enough. My family is large and sometimes complicated (aren’t they all) and no matter what my relationship is with them, the more people who love you, (and your kids) the better. Just like I had a little competion with my siblings, my oldest has already begun asking who is better at this or who do you love more. Tough questions for you to anwser for your children. I struggle to find words to appreciate them for their uniqueness without comparing them. My husband and I were given a book written by Barbara M. Joosse as a gift when we were expecting our second son called, “I Love You the Purplest.”
My love for them can not be put into words and I love them each differently, but so much. I still exclaim every night that I love them more than my arms can reach. This story reminds me to celebrate the differences between them with love. A great story for parents with more than one child or parents expecting a second child.
Parenting isn’t an easy gig. I’m tired. A lot. Today’s technical advances helps to keep loved ones close. It is different than ‘back in the day’ but if we take the time, the connections will be there. Take the time, send someone that isn’t expecting one a hug – because sharing love is just as great as receiving it. It is a universal language we can all use more of.