My Visionary will tell you that (although I am growing in grace) I am not one to accept or make excuses. My childhood is not an excuse, but it explains why I have to work harder at remembering to be physically affectionate with my children. For some reason, I never had this problem with my babies and toddlers - I would happily smother my Little Ones with smooches and cuddles. Cuteness is it's own reminder.
When kids got bigger and busier, not always under my feet or at my side, it was harder to remember. When boys began smelling, well...like boys, it took more effort. Scurrying around the house always with an agenda to keep my head above water, it wasn't naturally a high priority - like so many other things, I would have to learn to make myself do it for the sake of my children. Sick of trying and failing, trying and failing, I cried out to my Father for ideas... methods that would help me remember to give the gift of loving touch to my kids. This is when I happened upon "paying for meals'.
At Family Meeting one week, I announced that I would be requiring everyone to pay for their meals from now on. Not before the Has-She-Lost-Her-Mind faces melted, I explained that each person would be required to 'pay' one hug to each other person at the table before they would be allowed to eat. The Big Kids coughed that Surely-You-Must-Be-Joking nervous chuckle as their faces revealed their thoughts. "You want me to hug him? Gulp."
Despite the uncertainty of the children and my own misgivings about whether this would be yet another great idea that fizzled before it took strong hold, it worked. Should a fly be on the wall in our home at mealtime, he would likely have a quizzical expression on his face (and wonder where he left his earplugs) as he was bombarded with at least five children simultaneously hollering:
"Hugs!" "Cod Liver Oil!" "Hugs!" "Hugs!" "Elderberry Syrup!" "Hugs!" "Cod Liver Oil!" "Hugs!" "Elderberry Syrup!" "Hugs!"These reminders began after woefully realizing that we had been forgetting, more often than not, our daily doses of cod liver oil and elderberry syrup. The first person to remind us at breakfast was bribed with a quarter. If your home is like ours, you can imagine the
"Elderberry Syrup!" "Cod Liver Oil!" "Hugs!"
We did eventually get better at remembering our 'medicines'. Each person is now receiving a minimum of 27 hugs every day (even more when Dad is home), which is medicine in it's own right. (Those concerned that children in large families are neglected could never comprehend this. I wonder how many hugs they get each day?) It carries over into the rest of the day, too. Walls have been broken down between siblings and I have noticed a distinct decrease in personal space prickliness. I am even able to remember to do this in exasperating moments, as Mary's method for keeping the good moments good has been a blessing not as difficult to do as it once would have been.
We have kept this up for four months now...I'm encouraged! Ignoring my personal plan to, once I have discernible, regular progress in any area, raise the bar, I just want to sit in this one in all it's perfect simplicity and soak it up for a while longer. Yahweh remembers we are dust, He cares about every little detail, and He doesn't expect us to be perfect...just obedient. We are allowed to use 'cheats', reminders or CliffsNotes to help us obey. He is not a hard taskmaster...simple obedience is enough.
Thank you Abba, for one more evidence of your grace.