In one week, our family’s downsized. College Graduate moved to the East Coast and College Boy returned to the university. That leaves the High Schooler and Junior, the middle school boy. “Our fun little family of four” I call the rest of us.
There’s a lot I like about a smaller family. We can go places with minimal cost. We can eat out every once in a while instead of almost-never. There’s less laundry, less arguing, and more quiet spaces in the house.
Today we decided to go hiking. In just a few minutes, we packed a less-than-army-size lunch and were off. A fun and spontaneous family of four.
Family outings for six are a major undertaking. Rarely does everyone agree. There’s usually someone arguing, whining or complaining. Packing a lunch is a major feat and finding something cheap to feed everyone is rare.
Today was quick, easy and fun.
When we got home, High School Boy said, “Thanks for today, Mom,” then left for his girlfriend’s house.
Junior said, “Can I have a friend over? I get tired of being by myself.”
College Grad texted, “I’m homesick.”
And now, I’m in tears. The yucky kind that makes your dog look at you with those “What in the heck are you doing?” eyes.
They’re tears of gratitude for moments I thought our family was falling apart. When siblings fought, couldn’t get along and didn’t like each other. When we were too busy and couldn’t all be together.
Like last week.
I’m reminded that family relationships aren’t orchestrated in big moments, but small ones. They’re built in peanut butter sandwiches and sharing drinks, in compromises over who gets the back seat. They’re built among siblings who value time together, in a house that’s empty when someone’s gone, and is a place for which you get homesick.
Even though I was stretched to my limit this summer with a full house, I’m thankful my kids love, respect, and miss each other.
To a parent, that’s the most valuable gift of all.
What are ways you’ve fostered relationships among your kids? If you have college students, how to you foster the transition of family life with those remaining back at home? If you have a blended family, how to you foster relationships during the time your kids are together? We’d love to hear from you!
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