Making Time for Relationships

I am such a task-oriented person, it’s not even funny. Especially not to the wonderful people in my life who sometimes have to jump up and down with their hands in the air for me to notice that I’ve been neglecting them (sorry hubby and munchkins!). But I was reminded today (thanks, E, for asking me to breakfast!) of the importance of making time for people. Because there are certain things you can only learn in a relationship, such as …

~ listening to others

~ being vulnerable and open with others

~ bearing with each other when dealing with different personalities/preferences

~ supporting someone through the hard times

~ giving your time, energy and heart to someone else

~ receiving feedback from others

~ and so much more!

If you didn’t notice, there’s a theme to the list above, namely the use of the words “others” and “someone”. Moreover, if you’ve lived for any amount of time on this earth, you’ll agree that we were born into relationships and we cannot survive without them.

Sometimes though the relationships we have in our families or with friends or colleagues are not the most healthy ones. Sometimes they’re just plain hurtful and damaging. But the good thing is that there are other healthy, supportive, and reliable people out there in the world who know how to love you more wholly and healthily. And there’s hope to be found in those relationships.

God didn’t mean for man to be alone—and as much as I’d like to think that only applies to the male species, I know us gals need relationships, too. 😉

So, let’s make time for the people in our lives who need us and whom we need as well. To-do lists and deadlines can wait, but love cannot.

Two of my favorite people in the world. :D (Look how tall they're getting!)

Two of my favorite people who have made me more relationship-oriented. 😀 (Look how tall they’re getting!)

Here’s a fun song about relationships, Paul McCartney’s “Got to Get You Into My Life”.

Who are your favorite people? 🙂

Taking the Practicality Out of Relationships

Ask any of my girlfriends and they’ll tell you I have the best mother-in-law in the world. God totally blessed my socks off with her, and I’m forever grateful that we have a good relationship. The original Mama Ho is a sweet, spunky lady who once caught a fish with her bare hands when she was a little girl. She LOVES pizza, possibly more than my cheese-lovin’ son does, but moreover, she loves her family through her words and deeds. When the munchkins were small, she stayed with us for extended periods and helped us out by cooking and cleaning. There were times when I found her on her hands and knees cleaning our bathrooms, and boy, did I feel terrible (not to mention, embarrassed about the state of the toilets)! Even when I insisted she didn’t need to do that, she would always say, “You’re busy with the kids; I have nothing to do” and continue to bless me. She also prays for us with the sincerity and earnestness of a mother’s and grandmother’s heart.

These days, she and my father-in-law have their own place about twenty minutes away and just so happen to live about ten minutes away from hubby’s workplace. And because my mother-in-law is always thinking about how to help us, she’s been cooking for us for the past few years. Twice a week, hubby will stop by her place after work and pick up a hot, home-cooked, yummy meal, and bring it home. Let me tell you, it’s amazing to have dinner just show up on the dining table. (If you can’t tell by now, cooking is not one of my favorite pastimes!) And my mother-in-law takes her “job” so seriously that she hardly ever misses a day and she’ll even be disappointed when she can’t cook for us.

Which is why when hubby changed jobs a couple of years ago to work in the city, he still made a weekly trip to my mother-in-law’s. Back then, his commute home consisted of a one hour ride on BART (the Bay Area’s public rail service) where he usually had to stand the whole time due to a lack of seats. Then when he picked up his car in our home city, he would drive another 60-90 minutes (roundtrip) to get dinner. By the time he reached home, he was pooped. 🙁

It wasn’t long before I began thinking that it wasn’t worth it for my mother-in-law to continue cooking for us. I really didn’t mind making dinner if it meant hubby could come home earlier and not have to sit in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic. So I relayed my thoughts to hubby, but was shocked to hear his perspective.

“But my mom loves to cook. I don’t mind picking up dinner. Sometimes letting other people help us, helps them.”

WHAT?! All the practical, no-nonsense alarms went off in my head and I wanted to spew off a list of reasons of why it didn’t make sense. It was not efficient, economical or a good use of time. Right? But then, hm…. I thought about his statement and began to understand what he was saying.

As a square gal, I often get caught up in the logistics of things. I want to make sure I use my time well and get the best deals. I aim for practicality and efficiency. I want things done my way (which is of course, the best way, haha). But if there’s one thing I’ve come to realize since becoming a mom, it’s that not everything can be planned, organized or controlled. When people are involved, the intangibles outweigh the details. Personalities and preferences come into play. Feelings, motivations, and needs must be considered.

Because sometimes it’s not about you. Okay, most of the time, it’s not about you. When you have a relationship with someone—a friend, spouse, child, or other family member—you can’t always be practical. But you can always choose to love. And sometimes, loving means doing things that don’t follow your plan. It means seeing the bigger picture. It can mean letting others help us even though it’s not the most efficient thing to do. Because most all of the time, loving someone means treasuring the person’s heart. And that makes the most sense of all.

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/freedigitalphotos.net

Take a listen to this beautiful song, “For Good”, sung by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel (from the musical, “Wicked”) that sums up how our relationships touch us. I love the lyrics: “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good”.

Who in your life has taught you the value of relationships?

Conversations with a 6 Year Old about Relationships

C was in the middle of her bedtime routine when she asked me, “Do you love Po Po (maternal Grandma) and Gong Gong (maternal Grandpa) more or Bob (aka. Baba) more?”

In the mirror I saw her head tilt up as she looked at me, the top of her three foot frame nearly reaching my shoulders thanks to the stool she stood on. Her big brown eyes sparkled with intensity, waiting for an answer.

Hm? What was she getting at? And why do I always get asked the strange/deep/unanswerable questions?

Humph. But as any parent (and therapist) knows, when you don’t have an answer to a question, you keep your cool and do the ‘ole switcheroo. So I asked the question back, “Who do you think I love more?”

She replied without hesitation (because as usual C already had it all figured out and was just testing me!), “Bob, of course. Because without Bob, you wouldn’t have me and E.”

Hee hee. Of course. 🙂

Although her 6 year old logic had some flaws, she was right about one thing. Life is all about relationships.

No matter who we are, where we come from or where we’re going, we are all connected to other people. Our parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, children, neighbors, classmates, coworkers, friends, enemies, strangers … the list goes on and on, especially if you include social networking.

My conversation with C got me thinking that as much as I’m an introvert and prefer to be alone, I am a better person because of the relationships I have. (I may have groaned as I typed that last sentence.)

The hardest things I have had to learn have happened because of other people’s presence and influence on my life. I’m talking about the processes of acceptance, forgiveness and trust. There’s also the acts of sharing, cooperation and encouragement. To put it simply, it’s the lessons of learning how to get along that have built my character. (Okay, I did groan this time, haha.)

As complicated and messy and tiring as relationships can be, we would not be who we are without them. And I firmly believe the people we have in our lives are there for a reason.

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What’s that reason? It’s the four letter word that seems to weave itself through all of our relationships: LOVE.

It’s a sense of belonging that we all want and need. It’s the idea that C has that she and E are important to me, which is why I should love their Baba more than their grandparents. I didn’t mention to her that without my parents, I wouldn’t be around to have kids, but that’s beside the point. What I did say to her at the end of our conversation was this: “I love God the most because He gave all of you to me.”

And maybe that was a cop-out answer or the most brilliant answer I could have given, but it is what I know to be true. I am thankful for all the people that God has brought to cross my path. I may not always act like it (especially when I just want some peace and quiet!), but my world is so much richer because of all the relationships – close and far, in person and online – that I have had the privilege of meeting and doing life with.

So, here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend of being with the people you love, especially the moms in your life this Sunday. 🙂

And here’s a fun parody of the song “American Boy” by Only Won & Larissa Lam called “Cantonese Boy”. I picked it in light of C’s answer to her own question (that I should love hubby more) and also because I just celebrated 14 years of marriage with my own Cantonese boy. 🙂

Who are the people in your life that you are sure crossed your path for a reason?