Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K: Kin Keeping #AtoZChallenge

I read this article from Pick Any Two back in January and it really got me thinking. The post is about a phenomenon called "kin keeping" or those seemingly insignificant tasks that keep a family rolling: sending out cards, holding the collective memories, planning parties for special occasions, etc.

Typically women tend to be the kin keepers in a family. Moms are the ones who remember which baby outfit to put on when a certain relative comes to visit. Moms are the ones who keep up contact with the long lost relatives. Moms are the ones who remember the stories. These are the things that some people think "just happen" even though we all know someone has to be in charge of them somehow.

It can be an exhausting and overwhelming job. I liken it to the feeling I often have of spinning plates. I have to keep running around and giving each plate a fresh spin to make sure they stay up on the posts where they belong. If I neglect one plate for too long, it could fall over. Worse, it could knock other plates over and cause the entire lineup to come to a crashing, shattered halt.

I have found that as long as I acknowledge the tasks I am doing as kin keeping, they are less likely to bother me. Even better is to see the trait turning up in my own daughter. Frances doesn't yet worry about sending a birthday card to great-aunt Marge, but she does keep track of things in her own way.

We usually use spreadable butter in a tub. It is only occasionally when I bake, that I get out sticks of butter. But almost every time that I do, Frances has to go tell her brothers the story of when she was little and snuck a bite out of a stick of butter.

At Christmastime, when I get out the stockings and decorations, Frances is the one who asks, "Mommy, where is that little Nutcracker we always put out?" or she tells the boys, "On Christmas Eve we get to go out and look at Christmas lights. It's a tradition in our house."

Sometimes she saves my butt because she reminds me of things that Santa and the Easter Bunny typically do. I don't know if she is trying to help me on purpose, or not, but there are a number of times I have overheard her reminding her brothers of things that I had totally forgotten about. Thank goodness for that!

Frances labels lots of things "traditions" that I never would have thought of in that way. She is chronicling the little things that make our family special and unique. She makes seemingly insignificant occurrences special, but acknowledging them and naming them.

She is my little kin keeper, Jr.

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