It’s not about the Zoo!

Giraffe at the Zoo

Showing up, is a way to show affection to our kids. I was talking to a friend over coffee this morning about how challenging it is to organize family get-togethers now that the kids are grown and out of the house. We miss the days when the kids were younger and our lives were structured around their activities – a Saturday bike race, an after-school climbing practice, or maybe a Sunday evening Scout meeting.  We just showed up at the right time, at the right place, with the right gear … and we were good.  There was no debate about what to do, when to do it, or whether or not we wanted to do; it was decided for us, and either we showed up or not.  And, by just “showing up” we showed our kids they were loved. 

Recently, her grown son told her – a little sheepishly – he wanted to visit the zoo. He said he hadn’t been to the zoo in years and it sounded like fun. So, she and her son agreed to go to the zoo that weekend. Later, she asked her husband if he wanted to join. He declined. In fact, he could not imagine why a grown adult would want to wander around the crowded, noisy zoo in the blistering sun if they didn’t have to! 

She got what her husband was saying – the zoo did sound hot, crowded, tiring, and even a little stressful. And, we all have our preferences for where and how we spend our precious weekends. For him, the zoo was not it. But she couldn’t help feeling hurt and disappointed, and she wondered why.

Well, because it isn’t about the zoo at all!  Rather, it is about showing up.  Even if it was the last place in the world they wanted to be, their son could count on his parents being on the sideline of his soccer game in cold, drizzling rain, or in the audience of the world’s longest spelling bee in the sweltering school auditorium. Just “showing up” was a way they showed him he was loved.

The circumstances may have changed, but it’s still just as important to “show up” for your family members. Sometimes this is as simple as putting down your phone and really listening to what someone is telling you and other times it’s agreeing to do something that is not your first (or second, or third) choice, like going to the zoo! It may be harder these days to figure out what “showing up” looks like in the absence of recitals, practices, or performances, but being deliberate to spend time with your family members is an important way to show them they are loved. 

Let’s talk about ways you can “show up” in your relationships!