I usually need a lot of quiet to concentrate on work. So when my three boys wanted to romp around on our bed while I was finishing a project, I started to get annoyed. I was about to send them out when one of them said, “Yeah! Mommy’s room is so fun!” I saw my youngest son bring in his pillow and get cozy on my bed and make cooing sounds to himself. What is he doing, I thought to myself? He was a three year old acting reverting to a baby! And then my two older boys joined him, and they all started wrestling and getting rowdy. The goal-oriented side of me wanted to have peace and quiet so I could finish what I was doing, but I stopped myself because they really were not breaking any rules. It was my own environmental preferences that were about to turn their fun into an issue.
Many months ago, I remember a good friend talking about how she was never allowed to stay in her parent’s bedroom when she was a little girl. Everytime her dad would come home, she and her sisters were kicked out of the room. He would always be irritated when he found his kids playing in his room. My friend said she remembers wanting so much to be able to stay in the room and play there while her parents were around. She would even fix her mom’s vanity counter, arranging the perfume bottles and make-up, hoping that her mom would notice and be proud of her. But her mom never said anything. Her mom never thanked her or paid attention to what she did. This left a wound in her. In fact, this one of the many wounds that my friend lived with growing up. Her parents did other things that were very disappointing.
In contrast, I remember the story of another family. The parents shared with me that when their kids were growing up, their room was the hang-out place. Their kids knew that they were always welcome to spend time with mom and dad in that room. It doubled as their play room and movie room. As they became young adults, the master’s bedroom turned into a room to share secrets, seek counsel, and tell stories. The parents had a special way of letting their kids know that it wasn’t too late in the evening to come inside. They kept the light on in their bedroom. If the light was on, that meant the room was open. It was like the sign you read on stores or restaurants, “Welcome, please come in.”
I know this family personally. Their four children, now adults, still have a very close relationship to their parents. And, they have all turned out very well. Three of them are married and they are all walking with the Lord.
When I asked my kids this morning, “What is it that you really like about our bedroom?” My oldest answered, “We just like being with you! If you were in another room, we would want to be there, too.” Of course I melted when I heard that. It wasn’t about how fun our bedroom was. It was about being with mom and dad.
When I realized this, I decided to care less about the quiet and the personal space. Sure, I will still prefer the calm of personal space when I am in the middle of a task or project, but I want my kids to know that I prefer them. I want them to know there is a light turned on that tells them, “wherever mom is, she would like it alot if you were there, too.” (And maybe they won’t notice it if I am wearing earplugs!)