When I was a kid, Sunday was always church day (unless we went on Saturday). When we lived in Hawaii, it also meant beach day, or sometimes just fart around in grandma and grandpa’s yard for hours day. When we lived in California, it became microwave burrito and chips and salsa day (my mom’s favorite). Sometimes Winchell’s Donut day. Sometimes dinner at Sizzler’s day. What more could a middle-class (ish) kid in the San Fernando Valley back in the 1980’s want? Except maybe more MTV.
I look back on those times fondly, not because of the beaches or burritos or donuts (okay maybe the donuts), but because they meant time with my parents. It was time we didn’t really get during the week because they often worked opposite shifts and were just hustling to get us up and to school or through dinner time and to bed. As a parent of three kiddos now, I appreciate the challenges of all parents in finding time to connect with our children. I try to carve minutes into every day to spend with each of my children individually because with three it’s easy to get lost in the noise (not to mention everyone just ends up talking over the others). Spending five or ten minutes snuggling in the quiet or listening to them talk about their dreams or their day leaves me feeling grateful. I feel the weight of them in my arms start to relax or watch the expressions on my teenager’s face go from distant to engaged, then finally, to relieved. These moments are precious and I admittedly need to create more of them.
As we’ve gone through the pack out process for the first time as a family without my husband (welcome to military life), I’ve made sure to monitor my children’s emotions carefully. I checked in with them more. I checked in with myself more because some days the stress was too much for me to hide. I’m sure they are aware inside themselves of what these last 8 months have been like for me – a gauntlet of never ending challenges with school and business and life…and emotions I quite frankly did not want to deal with so I didn’t. Knowing we’d be leaving Hawaii made me shut down, isolate myself in many ways, and fill up every inch of white space with BUSY-ness in the hope that I wouldn’t have to feel what’s about to happen or what WAS happening. I can’t describe it any better, but I don’t have to. I am not alone in this. I see it every day on the faces of fellow military spouses – the moments of void, stress, and longing are sprinkled in between the smiles and the volunteering and the “fun” of keeping the world turning for our families. It’s how we roll.
Three weeks from today we will say aloha to the only home my two youngest children have ever known and the place my 15 year old has called home since he was two and head to the Pacific Northwest. For all I dread about it there are an equal amount of things I look forward to with this move and I wanted the kids to be excited about it, too. Rather than wait til we got there I thought I’d introduce a new tradition to them while we were still in the place we call home, so last weekend we had our inaugural Adventure Sunday. It was an easy family “hike” in Waimea Valley – a place we’d never been as a family before and a great way to test the waters and see how the littles would do. My 4-year-old required many rest stops, but that made for more opportunities for the boys to look around and observe. Overall, they enjoyed it as did I and I’m looking forward to planning more adventures with them for when my husband returns.
This weekend is Mother’s Day and though my idea of “adventure” is more like catching up on sleep and finishing a paper for school, I think we’ll head back out into nature again to explore another place that we’ve not all been so we can enjoy Hawaii just a little bit more.
What are your family’s Sunday traditions?