Technology connects us and pushes us apart. In so many ways I'm communicating with Father in Chief during the day. We instant message each other, send email, talk on the telephone. And when he's on his way home, he always calls to give us the heads up. But after he pulls into the garage and actually comes up the stairs, there are many days when I barely acknowledge he's entered the house.
It's not that I don't care--I'm actually relieved to have some parental back-up--but usually I'm just in the middle of something, usually getting dinner on the table (call me old-fashioned, in that way). In Maggie Jackson's February 12 column entitled, Repeat after me: 'Welcome home, dear', she wrote about a study that found that that classic phrase is going the way of the VCR. Jackson wrote:
"[W]ives stop what they are doing and welcome home a returning spouse only a little more than a third of the time. Mostly, they are too irritable or busy to do so...Husbands do better, with more than half offering a positive greeting to a spouse. Children greet their fathers, who are mostly the last to return, positively only a third of the time, and often don't even look up when the dad reenters the house."
If we did not have a way to communicate throughout the day, I'd probably be a little more energetic to run and greet FIC when he came in. But since I just talked with him 30 minutes earlier, there isn't a wave of information to pass his way. Plus, I know that we'll get a chance to connect while we're eating. Sure Toddler in Chief will make it difficult for us to have meaningful discourse, but we will be talking and sharing and together.
For TIC's sake, I have decided to try and be a little warmer when FIC comes in. I want him to know that it's always exciting when Daddy comes in. Sure when he's a teenager, we'll be lucky if he comes out of his room for meals. But until then, I'd like to try and instill a strong sense of family. And maybe a nice greeting and acknowledging that someone has joined us is a good way to start.