Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Create Memories of Laughter With Your Babies

When I married my husband at the sweet age of twenty-three I had no idea how to cook. That isn't the picture a husband has in his mind. After all, don't they say, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach? This young bride was going to have to figure out another way into his heart. It sure wasn't going to be through the kitchen.

Well, I knew how to make five dishes. I could do beans and corn bread, hamburgers and fries, vegetable soup, chili, and pizza, which I might add that was out of a box. Oh sure, if it was out of a box I could follow those directions pretty easily. Not that those things were the most delicious meals put together, but I gave it my greatest effort. The kitchen was not so friendly to me.

When I was a little girl I was never allowed in the kitchen. I always asked my mom if I could help and her answer to me was, "I can do it much faster and do it without a mess". That wasn't the answer I was looking for, especially when my friends were always cooking with her moms. I never even made cookies with my mom. I don't remember a time at all that we made anything in the kitchen.

Stepping away from the kitchen to the bedroom wasn't much better. I hardly knew how to make a bed. Oh, I think I did just fine, but if you asked my mom, she would have just removed the quilt and sheets and did it all over. This happened so often that pretty soon I wasn't even allowed to make my bed. I would ready for school and she would make my bed and clean my room after I was off to school. I never tucked the corners right and I always had wrinkles in the spread. To this day I can walk by my bed and straighten the quilt. That fitted sheet always gave me problems. I never knew how to fold it properly and that drove my mom mad.

Washing clothes? Are you kidding me? I might have done that wrong too. So, I knew how to do pretty much of nothing when I married. Growing up I felt as though whatever I attempted was corrected because some where along the way I had done it wrong. I know this was not my moms intention. She just wanted things done her way and she knew how to do them. Maybe she just needed to feel needed. I truly think she enjoyed doing everything for me and my dad. The thing was, I don't think she realized just how much she was hurting me in the long run.

I remember being a little girl and I wasn't allowed to play in my room after it was cleaned and after she made my bed I sure wasn't allowed to sit on it with my dolls.

My mom was from that generation that everything had to be neat and tidy. She spent her days cleaning and preparing meals. Our home was always immaculate. Nothing out of place. I applaud my mom for her hard work and her generous heart, but I missed her. Looking back I can't even remember a time where we just played. I missed her.

There were times she had to work outside the home, so when she came home she worked in a frenzy to accomplish all her tasks at hand. She was a hard working mom. But I missed her.

So, why would I share all of this with you? So your children don't miss you. Do more than be there. Be present in their lives. Be active.  Play and have fun. Make believe and make that kitchen a total mess. Take the blankets off the bed and make a tent city. Eat cookies in bed while you watch movies. Make up stories and play dress up. Let your babies wear your high heals and apply that beloved lip stick. Make a birthday cake just because and celebrate each day with a passion.

Sure we must be teachers to our children. We must give them the tools they need to grow into adulthood. We want them to soar and do more and have more than we ever did. This is all good, but what is it to teach our children without laughter? Time spent with our children means more to them than any gift under the tree. Presents cannot take the place of presence. I needed the time to have my mom show me how to do things to prepare me for life. I also simply needed her to spend time playing with me. That is something I miss dearly. I envy others who have those memories of baking at Christmas and catching fireflies after dark.

It's okay if the bed isn't made and the dishes are still in the sink. Friends, there will always be time to do cleaning. There will not always be time to make memories with your babies. That time goes by so very quickly. If anything get that sink filled with bubbles and wash dishes with your children as you blow bubbles through the kitchen.

I look back and wish my mom would have paid less attention to the floors needing vacuumed and more attention to me needing her. I wish she would have played paper dolls with me and made angels in the new snow.

Keep your jammies on and have a fun day. Do things your babies love to do. You just might learn to enjoy it too. Take time and read, color and paint. Make cookies and dive into those chips and dip. Make time for your family and for each child just one on one. Make memories that bring smiles forever to your children.

I couldn't play out in the cold and couldn't stay up past my bedtime. My mom lived in total fear that she would lose me. I was that baby in intensive care on my first birthday. Christmas was spent in the I.C.U. It seemed I was always sick. From Pneumonia to falling down the steps. It was like she wanted to protect me from everything, but in doing so I wasn't allowed to discover me. I wasn't allowed to explore and just be a little girl who wanted to just run and climb trees. Oh, I climbed trees and ran through the corn fields, just no one knew. But how much more fun would it have been with my mom by my side.

Growing up I knew my mom was always there to take care of me. Gosh, the first sign of a cough her hand was on my forehead checking my temperature. She was a mother filled with love. I think she just didn't know how to express it. She came from a large family of boys. Being the oldest and the only girl it was her job to take care of the rest. She grew up fast in the cotton fields and there was no time for play. I think she probably missed out on just about as much as I did.

I love my mom. She would do anything at all for me. I learned much from growing up with a mom so concerned with housework and keeping things in order. I learned to let lose with my children. It wasn't so easy at first. My mom's traits were there to follow me. Do you know today I never fold my fitted sheets. I Just grab them and kind of wad them up in a square. lol I know that sounds kind of quirky, but it's a way for me to let go and realize everything doesn't have to be perfect.

So what if company comes and the living room is a mess with toys scattered and spilled cool aid on the carpet. Here's the thing. Learn to giggle. Let yourself laugh with your kids. Give yourself room to be messy. Life is so short and time is precious. Would you rather have a clean house of perfection or a child well rounded and happy?

My kids had clean rooms, but they were allowed to messy. It's funny, when our grand babes are here it just doesn't much matter to me what is spilled or if something gets broken. Friends, stuff is stuff. Our babies is what truly matters and when we allow them to simply play it fills there hearts and they soar. Just giving our time gives them room to dream and grow.

I home schooled my children. When asked by a home school group what advice would I give to a mom who was home schooling her kids my answer was, make time to play. Make time to explore with your kids. I remember my oldest daughter, stick in hand, exploring the back yard and claiming it for Columbus. My son used our drive way to make ramps for his dump trucks and our back yard for his army men. My youngest daughter picked every flower possible and created an office made of cardboard in her bedroom. Frogs, lizards and wild cats were frequent members in our home. Okay, the cats didn't go over so well, but the others did.

We went to the library each week and gathered books until they were all read. We started over and I learn to make up stories for them. We played softball and kickball in the yard. Snow meant grabbing every possible warm piece of clothing and running outside. We would put curlers in our hair that made us look like we had reached our finger in a socket much too long. We face painted with a chocolate cake. Yes, our son was put in a dress way too many times, but it brought such laughter and sweet memories. Our kids used our old encyclopedias and lined the hallway wall with them creating condos for the barbies who happened to be married to G.I Joes.

Live your time with your babies as it's just you and them. Keep a journal, penning each day you have created blessings. One day your babies will grow and read the words their momma penned and realize just how blessed they were. My babies grew me to be the woman I am today. Precious are the memories we hold.  I pray I can be that Nanny that leaves a legacy of love and fun behind that teaches my grandchildren to live with laughter and joy.

Friends, this is how dreams are created. We teach our children to soar by allowing them to simply be children.

"The best things you can give children, next to good habits, are good memories." Sydney J. Harris

"Your children need your presence more than your presents." Jesse Jackson

"Do not ask that your kids live up to your expectations. Let your kids be who they are, and your expectations will be in breathless pursuit. Robert Brault

"Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children." Charles R. Swindoll

"You will always be your child's favorite toy."  Vicki Lansky

If I had my child to raise all over again,

I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.    Diane Loomans


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