By Kelly Wickham
Take a moment to think about all of the important relationships in your life. Of course, families come to mind first. Our aging parents or growing children warrant our careful attention, but the grind of life can impede our ability to see how we’re impacting them if we are simply going through the motions. Teachers are often thought of in hindsight, yet we know they are planning curriculum and caring for our children, their students, as regularly as they breathe air. Other important relationships are those we have with our customers—the people who pay our salaries. Each day we have opportunities to interact with people with whom we have relationships. Are we doing so mindfully, thoughtfully, and patiently? Are we treating others in a way that lets them know we care about them?
We all know that relationships take work if they’re going to succeed. This was never more apparent to me than when my youngest son was 3 years old. He wanted to spend time with me and begged me to read with him, but I was too busy getting dinner on the table and checking his siblings’ homework. I ignored his pleas as he stood on a chair in the kitchen. He had just learned a song about being happy and sang it as I multitasked—“If you feel happy . . . if you feel happy . . . if you feel happy . . . then clap your hands!” I wasn’t connecting with him until he changed the words to, “If you feel grumpy . . . ” and finished with “ . . . make a face like Mommy!” I knew he was trying to get my attention and communicate that I wasn’t taking care of his needs. What I learned in that pivotal teaching moment was that if I wanted happy children, then I needed to be present and joyful with my kids. I turned off the stove and snuggled with my son. Nurturing our relationship was as important, if not more so, than filling our stomachs with food.
If you can, think carefully and consciously about how you nurture all the relationships in your life as you go about your day. You are bound to run into people who matter to you on varying levels and whose relationships are key to your survival or success. When we think conscientiously about why these people matter, we can get to the important business of considering how best to let them know.
This month on the Little Pickle Press blog, we’ll be exploring what it means to nurture the relationships that matter most in our lives. Whether you’re a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, a student, and/or a customer, we hope that you will join our conversations and share how you foster your relationships.