My wife gave me some feedback the other day about how I was engaging with our baby. She said that most of my interactions with my daughter involved me doing something for her, or trying to get her to do something. For example, most of my time was spent changing diapers, trying to get her to go down for her nap, practicing tummy time, etc. I wasn’t spending as much time just being with her: cuddling, holding, etc.
As I mulled over the feedback, I realized Jenn was right. I think part of it had to do with the stress of having a newborn and transitioning to parenthood. But I did feel like a lot of our interactions were transactional in a way. My daughter had a need, and I was trying to meet it. Or, I had the idea that my daughter needed something (like a nap), and I was trying to get her to do it.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are a lot of things that need to be done when caring for a child, and it’s good to do these things. At the same time, it’s important to be with our children and enjoy and delight in them, irrespective of what they are doing. That’s grace—and it’s something we all need.
It’s easy to get caught up in transactional relationships. A transactional relationship is one that works because the person meets a particular need that we have. It’s almost like a contract—I agree to do A, B, and C, and you agree to do X, Y, and Z. These relationships tend to work, but they don’t necessarily provide the love, support, and grace that we long for.
Balance with Grace
I think the key is to balance the transactional part of a relationship with grace—which involves love, connection, and support irrespective of what is exchanged in the relationship. Real, deep, heart-level connections are made by being with each other and going through life side-by-side. Don’t miss out on the rewards of the journey because you are trying to rush ahead and get something done.