A few weeks ago, the heavens opened and the stars aligned and suddenly, I was booking a flight to Las Vegas and then a car to finish my journey to the California desert. Why?
Thirty years ago last month, I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen. I had secretly longed to spend her birthday with her and her family for several months. It had seemed impossible when the idea first formed in my mind. But suddenly, all the doors opened and I was free to plan my journey.
It had been a year and five months since I had seen my daughter, son-in-law, and their three children-- my grandest kids. A lot had happened in our lives since their trip home to Tennessee.
I had checked a book out of the library a few weeks before my trip about managing our day to day commitments. One of the primary messages of the book was about the amount of time our gadgets- computers, readers, TVs- steal from our daily lives. Our time with email and social media result in less time for other pursuits and for those sharing our lives. Even though I had read very little of the book before leaving town, it spoke volumes to the choices I make daily about the use of my time. I made a decision.
My grandchildren are seven, six, and three. I knew that nap time was mostly a thing of the past. The two older children had just two days of school during my visit and the three year old would be home full time. I decided that I would forsake my email completely while visiting these precious souls (gasp!); I did briefly check into facebook most days to answer private messages.
I am so pleased that I made the choices I made! I spent priceless cuddle time, game time, play time, reading time with the grandest children I know. We colored, glued, pretended, played games, read books, sung songs, and talked. We also watched a few of their favorite movies and I got to share a few of their family traditions as they prepared for Thanksgiving just before I left to come home. My only phone calls were with their grandfather, my husband, usually daily.
Because of their age, I always worry that I will have to start "from scratch" again with our relationships, as we don't often speak on the phone, nor do we use face time. With the littlest one, there was a bit of warming up time, but once we were through that, all was fine. The older two grands and I picked up right where we left off. Grandmama learned that a heart connection does not fade away. It survives through the absences and is nourished and thrives during time spent together.
My California experiment was such a success, I decided to try it again during my husband's extended family Thanksgiving celebration at his sister's Kentucky home. Again, the results were fabulous. I was fully present with my sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephew, mother-in-law, my own children and my husband. It was a wonderful few days of food, games, talking and sharing.
I love the availability of contact with friends and family from other parts of the country through email and social media; but I plan to continue this pattern of less screen time and more time being present with the ones in whose presence I find myself. The gifts received through being fully present during face to face interaction are priceless!