As adults, we know that transitions can be tough. Moving somewhere new, starting a new job, or going through a major life change such as a divorce or loss of a loved one change our realities and can leave us feeling lost, or at least a little off-balance. And while transitions are hard for us, they can be even more difficult for children.
Zoey is an incredibly well-adjusted child, but she’s always struggled in times of transition. In an effort to make challenging times easier for her, I’ve always tried to create special little rituals that served to offer her consistency and comfort. Many of these rituals will be lasting, while others may only be temporary. But no matter how long they may exist, they all serve important roles.
As Meg Cox, author of “The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays & Every Day”, explains, “[t]hrough rituals and traditions . . . you are building the bond of your joined identity, defining your relationship by acting it out.”
Zoey and I started our rituals and built upon our joined identity with the creation of a little, pretend black mouse named Lulu, who was conjured up one morning as I drove Zoey to her new school and she was scared for the day ahead. All of a sudden that silly mouse appeared out of nowhere and, after hopping up on the steering wheel to help us get to school, she jumped into Zoey’s backpack so they could navigate preschool together.
When I started my new job, Lulu started coming to work with me, and then Zoey and I started the ritual of sharing what antics Lulu had been up to that day. And then because that job changed our morning routine, it left Zoey feeling a little off-balance, and I started the ritual of “morning cards.”
On Sundays, I would take an hour and make her 5 little cards, one for each school day of the upcoming week. Their messages would vary – from little drawings to words of encouragement such as “You are so brave!” or “Your smile makes me happy” or “I believe in you” or “Make today great!” I’d hand one to her after I buckled her in the car, and it became such an important part of our morning that if I’d forgotten the card in the house, Zoey would remind me to go get it.
Making those cards took time, and in my busy life—filled with chores and work and having impromptu dance parties— that time was sometimes hard to find. But I made the time, because the cards and the messages they conveyed and the support they offered to my daughter were all worth it.
Though circumstances and Zoey’s own growth have made that morning ritual disappear, the most amazing thing is that the intention and action behind establishing that ritual has come full circle: Zoey regularly comes home now with her backpack bursting with cards she has created for me.
I mean, think about that: Establishing that ritual in the past has directly impacted her expression of love and caring today. It has helped define what she finds important. Rituals have helped shape how she faces challenges (like a boss!), and in times of future struggle, either we can use what we’ve done in the past for comfort, or we can create new ones that help support her and connect us even further.
Isn’t this what our lives really are? A series of rituals, all mostly done out of love?
I love Zoey’s cards just as much as I loved creating cards for her. Mostly she shares her drawings, but now that she is learning to write, almost every time there are these words: I love you. Zoey is always excited to have me open or unfold that message of love. Watching her face reiterates what I’ve always known about love: giving it often touches our souls more than the act of receiving it. There need to be more things in life like that, where everyone benefits.
Right now, after I post this, for old time’s sake, I’m going to sit down and write a little note to Zoey, so when she hands me hers, I’ll hand her mine. On our way home from school, we will tell Lulu stories, how that funny little mouse created a commotion at my work and how Lulu ate all the kindergartners’ snacks at Zoey’s school. Later, as I tuck her in bed, we will tell each other about our days asking important questions, sharing, listening, and loving. And that love, the love we pass back and forth in the rituals we share in both good times and in bad, will sustain our days and give us hope and help us know that we are never alone.
What ritual can you create that might be passed down to your loved ones? A ritual that might help create a better today and, inevitably, better tomorrows? It’s especially important to think about these things during the holidays, times where rituals and traditions are so deeply ingrained. Maybe it’s something new, or perhaps it’s something that comforted you or brought you joy as a child. Most likely, someone will feel the same way you do about it.
And remember the specific ritual doesn’t matter, because the connection you are creating will be everlasting, and the meaning behind it will be the same:
I love you.
You are important.
You matter to me.
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Share the below image with someone you love! Email it to them, or post it to their Facebook page, or put it up on Instagram and tag them, or Snapchat it, or do whatever you want to do with it. Encourage them to share the love too! And to make it even easier, we’ve written the text for you below.
You Are Loved! And because love is better when we share it, help spread some more by sharing this with someone YOU love. Pass it on…❤
So what are you waiting for? Spread some love today!
(Click on the image below to share on Facebook.)