Long ago I read a book, that I've recommended numerous times over, called The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. This book made such an impression on me because it identified 5 expressions of love that people portray. We are all different so it stands to reason that a lot of the time our personal expressions of love are not our spouses....SHOCKER:)!! The five expressions are Quality Time, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, and Words of Affirmation. (Wonder if you can guess which one most of the guys I know are?) I've found that I'm much better at finding the value of and putting effort into the gifts that are part of my Love Language: Quality Time and Physical Touch.
This needy lady is all about Quality Time (my husband is rolling his eyes about now). SO anywhooo..when I was a child I remember my mom and dad (before they got divorced) telling me that the next day they were taking me out of school to do something special. I kept guessing and guessing as to what it could be-they were not budging. The anticipation on the drive was almost more than I could handle. At the time I had one other sibling and I couldn't believe that I was going somewhere ALONE with my parents- seriously how cool was that! They pulled up to the most spectacular site I had EVER seen (think slow mo fireworks exploding in my head)..on the corner of Clark and Addison I stood looking up at the home of the Chicago Cubs. I will never forget that moment. I was going to get to see Ryne Sandberg on second base!! That day is imprinted deeply in my heart. I spent time alone with both of my parents. I felt so special. (Seeing Ryne didn't hurt either!!)
We need alone time with our spouse to nourish and strengthen our relationship with them, so why should our children be any different? The thing about that day for me was not that my sister wasn't with us (she would tell you it was-insert huge smile)- it was just that I got to be a person with just my parents- to be honest who knows if I ever had any time like that again with both of them.
I've heard many times that parents feel guilty if they are going to do something with one child without the presence of the other or others. Feeling guilty because you are connecting with your children as individuals in unwarranted. Feel guilty if you don't invest the time to connect with each one. To be honest, I enjoy one on one time with my kids because I see characteristics shine that I may not always see when we are hanging with the whole family. Being that they are all separate individuals with personalities that require different things from us... this time spent alone is fruitful for each of us.
One of my kids favorite things to do is just to go have a meal with us alone. You don't have to break the bank to prove anything to your children, you just have to be present- and that requires time, effort and engagement (put down your cell phone-that's a hard one I know). We never know which images and memories are going to forever be painted into their minds eye about us and our relationship with them (hopefully it's not my crazy momma self). I'm certain that my parents have no idea how special that day was to me (shhh don't tell them)- but I treasure it on so many different levels!
I want my kids to have those dates with me that can place more brush strokes on our canvas of life. I want them to know that I spent time thinking of just them and planning for a surprise with only them in mind. The running joke in our home is that each one says that another one is my favorite. I used to argue and try to convince them that that was just not the case.... I've come to think that maybe there is an evenness that they can recognize (or I'm trying to make myself feel better-which is entirely possible). I want them to know, the same way I want my spouse to know, that they are valued, treasured and important enough for me to give them my time- not just driving them to activities and back-although that's an act of love all in itself. I want them to feel special as just themselves, as well as a part of this family- because let's face it- we all need that. I want them to have date nights- because memories are made in those special times-they are ALL my favorites-even the big adult one!