Shopping for Connection

Usually when I grocery shop with my two-year-old, I talk to him.  But the other day, he happily played games on my iPhone while I went up and down the aisles, consumed with my mental grocery list.

While I was in the produce section, I saw another mother with a toddler who was my son's age.  She was lost in conversation with him.  I would say she was actually "verbal streaming," because he wasn't really responding, and she was describing everything she was doing:  what she wanted to buy, what she was putting into the cart, and what she missed and needed to turn around for.  We know adults typically don't like a play by play, but this little boy was loving every minute of it.  He sat gleefully looking at his mother with wide eyes, wondering what she would say next, and learning about food, vocabulary, and grocery shopping all the while.

It occurred to me that he was being really seen by his mother.  It didn't involve her spending money to take an expensive class with him.  It didn't involve having his favorite friends over for a killer play date (which at this age simply meant toys and parallel play - ha).  It simply involved treating him like an important member of the shopping team and giving him quality attention.

I marveled at the gift she was giving her child.  She was gratifying one of his basic needs - the one for connection - which is one that we all have really.

Our children often look to us mothers first and foremost for connection, for when they are little, we are their whole world.  It is a privilege to have this role, but we need to balance its responsibility with an acknowledgement of our own need for connection too.  This need manifests itself both as mothers and as Christian women.

Stay at home mothering can be isolating.  Although you assuredly may not be home all of the time, you are still occupied with an endless assortment of tasks to meet your children's needs.  Your focus on them can leave you missing quality adult interaction.  When my children were in the baby stage and I was particularly sleep-deprived, I missed easy access to adult understanding, stimulation, and activity.  This is normal, but we need to be aware of it.  Recognizing that our need has integrity opens the door for us to take steps for creative solutions.

Being a faithful Christian woman also necessitates meaningful connection.  The road of obedience itself can be isolating, and if we are going to intentionally craft a family life that differs from the world, we will need other Christian mothers standing beside us.  I have learned that there are people who will celebrate you and your faith - your faith isn't something they will just tolerate along the way.  Seek out the people who will be blessed by what you have to offer, not only to the world, but to Christ's church.  I promise, they exist.

If attending a weekly Christian fellowship group is too much for you to navigate scheduling wise, I encourage you to find a prayer partner.  This can be a woman whom you enjoy talking with but who also possesses a similar drive to follow Christ.  Sharing your story with vulnerability can sometimes be easier in one-on-one interactions, and remember, where two or more are gathered, Christ promises to be there (Matt. 18:20).  Try to plan meetings regularly based upon mutual availability.  Take time to pray for each other.  Delight in being heard and understood by a fellow journeyer.  I have used this form of communion may times in my faith walk, and it has always unlocked blessing.

Our desire for connection appears at every level in our families.  My prayer is that we not only take the time to give it to our children - through the grocery shopping conversations, or the random tickle fights, or the games played past bedtime - but also take the time to seek it ourselves.

If you liked this post, you might also like Haunting Ocean Tale.

{Photo by Coolmikeol at Flickr}


Popular Posts