In my growing up years, family was everything.My parents and my three siblings and I ate family dinners together almost every night.Friday nights, we were always at the high school games, which, where I came from, were football and basketball.Saturdays found us shopping, cleaning, baking, making an occasional matinee or trip to the roller rink, hospital/nursing home visits–all done together. There was no question about Sundays.Family breakfasts (usually pancakes or home-made waffles), church, BIG family dinner at our house or Grandma’s attended by aunts, uncles, cousins and conversation.
Sound incredible?Unbelievable?Impossible?Well, for me, as well as millions of others in the 40-plus age group, this was very real.If there were other options available, we probably weren’t aware of them.Competetive cheerleading? Tae Kwon what?Gymnastics for us ‘normal people’? (read not-on-TV)? Baseball practice on Sunday afternoon?You couldn’t even buy gas on Sunday afternoon, let alone find a group of your friends to get together that were allowed to be excused from Grandma’s dinners. In fact, as I write this, I am smelling Grandma’s kitchen and wondering why any of us would want to get out of that Sunday dinner?My kitchen never has caught that aroma!But, I digress …
Do I feel slighted that I wasn’t raised from age five to dance "en pointe?" No, I was still able to develop other talents, although much later in life.Was our family considered alien when we went to church together, sitting in the same pew each and every Sunday?Quite the opposite.In fact, because of our regular pew seating policy, we were noticeable by our absence if we went across the county to attend another church with Aunt Helen.Neighbors would actually call us to see “if things were okay.”Now I am constantly surprised when close neighbors [meaning people that live close to us, not necessarily people with whom we have developed close relationships] confess to being members of my same congregation, and yet we never see each other at worship services.With so many church times to choose from each weekend, why should that surprise us?
I’m sure we all agree that we are raising our children in a very different world than the one in which we grew up.Many seem to think we have abandoned family values altogether.I disagree.The term "family time" has simply taken on a new meaning for most of us.I treasure our Sunday afternoons at the ball field–my daughter and I together in the stands, rooting for my son on the field being coached by his father; the spontaneous trips to Sports Authority after school to pick up new socks, leotards, equipment for our sport du jour;sharing a bucket of chicken in the car as we wait for the game to begin.These are non-traditional opportunities that our family has each week, and we choose to make the most of them.So what if I didn’t actually cook the meal?We are still breaking bread together, and I am still old-fashioned enough to try to force some conversation out of my kids while completing the tasks.
All I can say is, it works for us. And, instead of beating myself up about the "lack of quality time we spend as a family," I prefer to take each and every opportunity that we are together to create a good memory for my family.
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