Recently, it occurred to me that family just like anything else in life that we care about must be thoughtfully cultivated. Raising children into thoughtful adults is not easy and it doesn’t just happen. The teenage years can be trying especially. Teenage girls doubly so, and I have two of them with ages less than two years apart. In the weeks since my daughters have left for college I’ve had time to think about my family. I’ve been able to take the time to move from the defensive team to the offensive.
In my work, I know that things that I work toward and manage are the most successful. Leaving important aspects of my business to chance rarely pays off. What I pay attention to thrives.
Taking a step back from my own family, in the days after the last college drop off, provided the necessary space to begin looking at how I wish to proceed in the next chapter.
The summer was a blur with work, kids, dogs, vacations, and everyone moving in a dozen directions. Our house was full of kids 24/7 and I personally was juggling a half dozen projects. There was so much to do and so many people around that it was not possible to think broadly and plan for the future. A very specific to-do list was in order.
Yet, over the summer my older daughter treated my younger daughter to a trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea. This was a very generous gesture, but was it necessary? We tend to offer love in the way we wish to receive it. My younger daughter who values time and affection would have been just as happy watching movies with her sister at home. My older daughter who planned the trip values service, so planning the trip was the gift. She also values quality time, so the trip that allowed time together was important to both of them.
When they were little we went to Carmel every summer, they both valued our time together there obviously. They asked me to go with them, but I declined wanting them to have time together as sisters. I did, however, take the picture of them together at the front door before they left.
When we talked about our family the other day, we talked about what we need from each other. I value words (of course) and gifts. I like the tangible evidence of love like the picture of them together before they left for Carmel. When I miss them I wear the PJ’s they gave to me, and sip out of the glass with the anchors on it, and scroll through photos of them.
Over the past six weeks I’ve been sending them postcards at school, not just any post cards, but vintage post cards from New York and Paris; the places we’ve traveled together. I even handmade post cards for them. During our meeting they both told me they would rather not get them. From someone who has every note ever written this was hard to accept, but if I want to evolve in love I have to understand these nuances.
Now, what to do with the stack of stamped and addressed postcards I have planned for them? I was thinking they could be gift tags, but they don’t care about that either. Maybe I’ll use them to plan a holiday scavenger hunt? They would love that. I could write the clues in the note section and send them in advance. We will see.
Love and blessings to all.