As the Easter weekend approached, we made a last minute decision, the day before, to head off camping for the long weekend. Of course every campsite in South East Queensland was fully booked. Finally, I found one last available campsite three hours north in Bargara. I announced the decision to my teenage boys whom all responded with “What is there to do in Bargara?” In a desperate attempt to lure them to come along, I spent the rest of the day inundating them with text messages presenting photos of the ‘beautiful’ Bargara beaches (I later realised one of the stunning drawcard pictures was actually not Bargara at all….opps). I told them the fishing was incredible and they might possibly have the opportunity to rescue turtles (none of this I could be sure of – as my info was completely google reliant but totally required if I was going to sell this place to my now adult children). At one point I might have been slightly overselling to Seth….“Mum please stop telling me about the ‘awesome’ skatepark… I don’t skate!” I honestly think that I could now confidently run a tourist campaign for Bargara Beach Caravan Park.
Later that afternoon I mentioned my days worth of campaigning to my Dad, who jokingly told me, “You can’t do that, you can’t make them go. They are adults now, they are their own people.”
This statement stuck with me. Had I become one of “those” Mothers? Do we need to have a cutting of the apron strings type ceremony? I mean Seth is only fourteen and the oldest two seventeen and eighteen. They are hardly forty year old mamma’s boys still living at home. I know my Dad (who is completely pro-family) never intended his brief statement to impact me so much, even though he is quite well aware of my somewhat overthinking nature… Still for the next few days this concept of me possibly having unrealistic expectations hovered around at the back of my mind.
Caleb my eldest couldn’t come as he had a geological rock studying thing on for university and also had to work. Which I totally understood, especially considering the last minuteness of our camping trip. We were all having an incredibly relaxing fun time away and then ‘surprise’…. second day into our four day camping trip, Caleb arrived. He decided to jump in his car and drive three and a half hours to join us. I didn’t force him… he wanted to come. So maybe I’m not an over the top mum after all? Maybe we just like each other?
After a morning of laughter and hilarious attempts to catch waves on our stand up paddle boards. My love tank was overflowing. I sat on the beach watching the boys surf. I still couldn’t shake Dad’s innocently made comment. Was I selfish wanting to have a family weekend? It caused me to reflect on our family culture. I shared my thoughts with my hubby Wojtek. I loved his response, it reminded me of why I married him and what it was about his family values that attracted me to him 22 years ago. “When I die they are their own people, until then they are my Sons and I am their Father and together we are a family. End of story.”
After much thought I’ve decided I will never stop inviting them, I want them to always know they are welcome, wanted and part of something bigger than themselves. They will always have a safe place to return to and a place of absolute unconditional love.
I’ve heard families say “I don’t know why they don’t visit they know they are always welcome.” Well do they? How do they know that?
I will not be offended if they cannot or just don’t want to always come. But I do want them to know that they are always wanted and that no-one can fill their place in this family. I have no apologies for sending all those possibly annoying messages. I want them to know they are my people and I am theirs and that nothing will ever change that.
To maintain a culture, no matter what sort, it takes effort. It requires leaders and quite often the leaders of a family culture are the mums. Faithfully keeping up all those family traditions when it would be so much easier to not. I want to encourage you not to give up on your family’s culture just because your kids are getting older. Your kids might not say it, but I promise you, they do love and appreciate what you do and they find comfort and security in your families unchanging culture. Yes, seasons change, kids will come and go and when they do go they will take those incredibly vital family core values, beliefs, memories and love with them. Don’t stop. What you give to your family is so significant and appreciated. Famliy – there could not be a more worthwhile investment.
ps. how did that bunny pic get on here??? Oh sorry not sorry boys!