Good morning, girl. Happy Thursday! How’s the week so far? You staying connected to your kiddos? It’s an ongoing thing, isn’t it? Every day is different. You energy varies, their needs vary, the little surprises of life can vary (like, surprise, your car won’t start! or surprise, kiddo has the flu!)
If you can hang on to one little routine throughout the crazy, it can provide so much comfort and connection.
Our routine when mine were little was reading out loud before bedtime. Even when I was so tired that I would literally fall asleep while reading the book! They would pat my cheek with their chubby little hands and say, “Mamma, Mamma… we’re not done yet! Mamma?” And I’d wake up and we’d get through another couple pages. I had Jamberry memorized. And Good Night Moon. I could turn the pages and “read” the book with my eyes closed! Mommy super-powers.
Recently, we had some tough stuff going on here at home. Big tough stuff. My teenagers ended up in my bedroom, one on the rocker, one on the floor, one on the bed. There was so much sadness; nobody was ready to go to sleep. And then I reached for James Herriot’s “All Creatures Great And Small”, a book that’d we’d read out loud, cover to cover, years ago (in fact we read through the whole series). I opened to a random story and started reading. They all looked up and smiled. “Oh, I love this one,” my daughter said.
It helped. Returning to our comforting routine, even all these years later, we all felt the comfort and love in that.
What is your I-love-you-ritual? Toast and hot cocoa before bed? Reading? Going for a walk? I know a couple who walk with their daughters every single night before bed. They put the girls in this uber-large stroller and walk till they fall asleep. It’s a lovely and loving ritual that helps Mommy and Daddy wind down too.
Make it yours.
Hi! Good morning.! How are you? Happy Wednesday! Did you take a Thanksgiving break from social media? I did, and I have to tell you, it was wonderful. Really, beautiful family time. We cooked, we talked, we played charades. We sat in front of the fire and read books.
On Monday, when I went to pull FB back up again, my youngest walked by. He looked at the computer with mix of disappointment and loathing. “Oh. So are you back on FB?” He asked, looking so very unhappy.
I shut the computer.
Sometimes I forget. I forget how much they need me.
They want you, Mamma. They want your time and attention. They want you to play with them, to look them in the eye, to touch them and to talk to them. They crave your love and approval. They want you.
I know we’re gearing up for cookies and toys and parties. I know you are probably pushing the limits of your budget (as am I) to get that One Perfect Thing that will make their eyes light up on Christmas. And time! Lord, the limits of time… how will it ever get done?
But what a tragedy when I let The Busy or The Shopping or The Computer distract me from what my kids really want: a relationship with me.
Remember, please, stuff doesn’t make you happy. And it doesn’t make your kids happy either, no matter what the commercials promise. People. Love. That’s where it’s really at. And that takes time to build.
Twenty-five days. Twenty-five days to gear up for this holiday called Christmas. Twenty-five days to make memories and let your kids know you love them, and it has nothing to do with what ends up under the tree.
I vow not to open FB or Twitter or Amazon while my children are awake for the entire month of December. While I am with them, I am REALLY going to be with them.
Good morning, Mamma! Happy Friday! Time to maybe plan a weekend surprise for your kids? These are memories that really stick because there is so much emotional power in a happy surprise.
My husband is the spontaneous one in our marriage. It is such a gift. I’m getting better at it, but still. The kids joke that if I hadn’t married my wonderful, mostly stoic, Swede, their lives would be safe, productive and highly nutritious.
I laugh. I have to, because there is so much truth in that caricature.
I have learned from my husband the gift of the unexpected.
Our kids, ten years later, still talk about the time that Daddy asked what they wanted to do that day and, when they responded with, “drive to *next state over*!”, he said yes. They drove eight hours round trip that day, road trip extraordinaire. I was on a business trip somewhere and they got such joy out of calling me and telling me where they were. They still talk about that day and, when they do, they still laugh about it. Total cost of that lifelong memory: Gas, and two stops at a Dairy Queen for road food.
Easier surprises are things like mom suggesting we build a fort in the living room and then telling the kids they can sleep there tonight. Yes, they’ll probably be up at midnight asking you to take them to bed, that doesn’t matter, it’s the adventure of it, the break from routine.
Waking them up with fresh hot pancakes tomorrow, that’s a nice surprise. It’d set a fun tone for the weekend too.
The biggest surprise we ever pulled off was when we told our kids we were going camping, and when we got them in the car, pulled out the passports and told them we were travelling to a foreign country instead. I LOVED that moment! That kind of adventure clearly takes planning and resources, but you’d be surprised at what you can pull off with Groupon Travel and airbnb.com.
We spend so much of our lives planned and prepped down to the minute, I get it, we have to, or we’d die. But, every once in a while, let your guard down and let in the unexpected.
It’s about joy.
Go have some of that this weekend.
Saturday, Saturday! Good morning, Mommy!! What are you going to do to #buildmemories today?
Make breakfast with the kids? Let them put the blueberries in little cups and cover them with whipped cream.! Let them spread the peanut butter on the toast (and lick their fingers because it inevitably gets everywhere, it’s a cardinal rule of peanut butter spreading)! Let them pick the flavor of the pancakes! Cooking and eating together feeds both body and soul.
Will you get outside together? Hanging (and napping) in a hammock? Splashing at the beach (and sandcastles, definitely sand castles)? Going for a hike with a picnic tucked into your backpack? Or maybe you’ll just set up the sprinkler at home and let the kids run through it while you snap pictures that you’ll laugh at forever?
Or is today a cultural day? Biking to the local bandstand to hear music? Spending a couple hours at a local museum (children’s, science or art, they’re all wonderful). Is there a festival going on near you celebrating another ethnicity or culture?
County fair! You could find a county fair! Corn dogs and cows and kiddie rides. Awesome.
Is today a weeding the garden day? A mud pie day? A plant-a-little-tree-for-each-kid-and-let-them-take-care-of-it day? Dirt is awesome.
Or break out that video feature on your iPhone and make a video. You can have the kids come up with the story, help them find costumes and then film it for them. My kids once constructed an entire play like this, took all day, involved neighbors and friends. It was awesome. (Do not, however, let them add blue food coloring to the whipped cream pie that will end the show. That stuff stains the skin for DAYS.)
This is your life, Mamma. These are the days that build your relationship with those precious kids of yours. And that husband you’d like to continue to enjoy a great relationship with for pretty much forever.
Go. Do. Live it and love it and take pictures.
Good morning, Mamma. Saturday… yum. Make some memories today, please? Yes the laundry and the groceries, I get it. But don’t forget to make memories too.
At a dinner party a couple months ago, I asked one of the men across the table what he “did”. “I make memories for my kids”, he replied, without missing a beat. Everyone around us sort of paused and was trying to process a surprising answer to a most basic dinner party question when he continued, smiling, “Or do you mean what I do to get the money to make memories with my kids?”
It was such a change in perspective for me.
And a lesson made all the more poignant by the fact that our oldest has told us that when he moves back to school this fall, he won’t be coming back. Oh, he’ll come back for birthdays and Christmas and the occasional Sunday dinner, he will call and email and he still loves us very much, but this is it, he’s moving out.
Can you imagine my grief? This is it. All the stuff I missed as a working mom, and all the stuff I made it to, that careful balance of enough for work and enough for my family, adding up the hours and events and dinners at home… our math, for the most part, is done.
Keep that in mind as you plan your day. This season, this mess and sleep loss and helping on with very small shoes, it ends.
When it does, make sure that you have a wealth of memories to go back and visit. A treasure trove.