Finding together time; Putting aside everything to bond

By Danielle Scroggins | Published Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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Love languages are a common topic of conversation at our house, because for me connection is the most important part of any relationship.

I want to know the best possible way to reach my spouse, my children, my family, my friends, the Walmart checker – anyone and everyone. Connection is what defines how I interact with the world.

In his book “The Five Love Languages,” Gary Chapman outlines how people connect in relationships through words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time and physical touch. By learning how you personally show love to others, you learn what it takes to feel loved yourself, and that one small bit of information can be a big game changer.

For example, my love language is acts of service. Actually, my family teases me that I have all the love languages and want all the connection all the time. In some ways, they are correct.

Since my primary love language is acts of service, I show love by doing. One of my favorite activities is hostessing. I love making a cozy spot in my home for friends and family, and catering to their tummies and taste buds. I love providing an atmosphere of togetherness and conversation-which brings me to my point. Togetherness.

Chapman’s word for togetherness is quality time, and when it comes to my family, quality time is my favorite.

Growing up, my after-school rhythm was homework, dinner, bath and family TV. We watched “Growing Pains,” “Mad about You” and “The Bob Newhart Show” to name a few. That routine followed me to college and into my own grown-up life. To this day, I’m itching for dinner around 6 p.m. and wishing for the couch by 7 p.m.

However, my own little family has a completely different rhythm. For years I’ve had to work hard to get this family bonding. These past 17 years of parenting have been very busy years.

My husband has always had a demanding job with work hours creeping into the evening most of the time. I’ve had obligations in the evening, including church and school meetings and my personal indulgence, book club. My kids have always had activities in the evening. They started with colicky feedings and tricky diaper changes, but eventually progressed to gymnastics, t-ball, soccer, piano lessons, baseball, drama practice, church, homework, homework and more homework.

With three kids, it’s a tall task to complete all the things, eat a relatively well-balanced meal and stop down for family bonding every night. I don’t know how my parents made it work back in the day, but I’m jealous.

So, in an effort to devise a “system,” each hoodlum has picked a favorite TV show (or two), and the first one to the couch on the magical day we are all in the same place at the same time gets to choose the show for the evening. The competition works. Even though we rarely have time for more than one 30-minute sitcom, I embrace each one of those minutes. Ironically, we usually watch “The Goldbergs” – a throwback to the ’80s when I was a kid. This whole family TV time was somehow easier to manage.

I know it might sound trivial to carve out time to watch television. I also know there are so many other family activities that perhaps provide more opportunities for that bonding I crave so deeply. Believe me, I work for those as well (just ask the hoodlums). But, there’s something innately relaxing about a full belly, shampooed hair, a cozy blanket, and mindless comedic relief that is the perfect sunset on a supercharged day.

Just in case I wasn’t sure that God had his hand in my life, He has shown up in my kids’ teenage rhythm. They have started migrating to my “room” or our re-purposed dining room for what they call “hang out time.”

They have watched me play hostess to my friends in that room, chatting for hours about anything and everything. They’ve watched me read, meditate, write and nap in that sweet space. We sit on the cozy couch with fluffy blankets, no TV, and just talk. We bond.

They seek me out to solve world problems or have mommy conferences about school. It’s become a homework room and sometimes a feelings room. I love that space. I love that time. It makes me tip my hat to the universe for showing me the acts of service my children are providing in painting an even more beautiful sunset than the one I sometimes force.

It makes me quiet the constant worry of “am I doing this right” of family and parenting. Don’t worry, It’s still there on a harried night of running from one game to another practice, throwing food at the children and postponing showers until morning. But, when the perfect storm of scheduling allows, and we choose to connect, I know that’s love in any language.

Danielle Scroggins is a Decatur resident, Decatur High school graduate and mother of three. She writes a monthly column, Life is Kid Stuff, for the Messenger.

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