As a Mommy, Daddy, Grandparent, an Aunt, or any other position you can name, does your special little one do and say unforgettable things? I bet he or she does, like ALL THE TIME. But as the moment goes by, the laughter has silenced, the memories may have a tendency to fade. One of my favorite things I did for both of our children was to write them notes now and then. These short letters are compiled in these Precious Moments books shown above.
I know it may feel like “one more thing to do”, but these little books have sparked countless discussions as I have read aloud portions on special occasions such as a birthday or a graduation. Here’s what I did. I simply recorded my thoughts in the form of a “Dear Leah” letter and a “Dear Walker” letter. And your special loved ones don’t have to be in their youth either…they could be grown and live away and you could simply share some musings you have about them. Of course, if they are grown, you could actually mail them a real letter, which can be so so much more meaningful than a text or an email.
I started Leah’s book when she was a few months shy of her second birthday, and Walker’s when he was a newborn. My last entries were made for both just after their two weddings took place in 2014. There are some blank pages, so who knows? Maybe, I will make more notations in there at some point.
What a fun thing for them to have … notes about their childhood, and this will also be a cool thing to share with their own children some day. This post is not meant to make any one of you “feel bad” for not having done this particular thing with your own children. Everyone and every home is unique and this is just something I wanted to share with you that we did. Memories are alive no matter what we might do to maintain them. Perhaps many of you reading have grown children, or no children, and are wondering who you could now write notes to? A grandchild? A neighbor child, family child whom you are watching grow up?
'In the end it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.'
This can be a very simple, yet meaningful activity. And it can be cathartic as well, because it allows us to get down on paper some of our heart thoughts and affirmations about one that you dearly love. All you need is a blank book of your choice and a pen or pencil. Here below are a few of the entries in Leah and Walker’s little memory books. Why not start today?
Dear Leah, February 5, 1996
We are out of school today for snow and ice. I guess Walker has been getting to you…(as siblings often do!) because today you told me you wanted to put him outside on a stand with a sign that says: “BROTHER FOR SALE ONLY $5.00!”
Dear Walker, December 22, 1995
Dear Walker, I guess you are ready for a bigger bed, because you fell out of your race car bed last night. I think it scared you because your were crying so hard and your heart was beating like crazy! Daddy and I got you a new twin bed for Christmas and you are going to love it!
I hope some of you will consider starting a little “Dear_________________ Book” for someone who means the world to you. This is really way easier than a “baby book” or a “scrapbook” that can sometimes feel too daunting. I included photos, ticket stubs, and even flocks of hair from a haircut in a ziplock bag with a date.
You will not be disappointed with the opportunity to share the collection of memories!
I’ve especially been thinking about Chapter 2~”Keeping the Love Tank Full”.
Psychologists have concluded that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need. For love, we will climb mountains, cross seas, traverse deserts, and endure untold hardships. Without love, mountains become unclimbable, seas uncrossable, deserts unbearable, and hardships our plight in life.
Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages
I think it is a good idea, now and then, for us to take a look at self-love.
Yes, everyone needs love, that is clear, but we also need to extend love to ourselves, giving ourselves mercy and grace as we journey through this life. Again, we expend a lot of time and energy caring for and loving the people in our homes and we must not forget to love ourselves…treat ourselves with kindness. That means we cannot allow ourselves to be in the habit of repetitive self-criticism, self-loathing, working ourselves to exhaustion, living an unbalanced life with no time for rest, relaxation, restoration and recreation. Click here to read an earlier post to inspire you on ways to nurture yourself: Solitude: 7 Ways To Find It.
How is your love tank looking? Are you running on empty? Let’s not wait for others to fill it up, let’s fill it up ourselves! Give yourself an “atta girl!” or an “atta boy” today. Be beautiful and unique YOU!
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. for beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
The above message came from British humanitarian and actress, Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) when asked to share her “beauty tips.”
It is Mother’s Day again and this day, every year, brings up so many memories and emotions. October 24, 2016 will mark ten years since my Mama passed away with esophageal cancer. Every beating heart has a story. You and I have stories, especially regarding our own mothers, as well as our personal experiences with mothering. Some may still have their Moms with them. If so, I pray they will recognize how blessed they are, even in hard and trying times. Loving Well, unconditionally is probably the most significant thing we can do.
And this quick video will give you a smile as you see why MOMMYS never get anything done! (thanks, Brittany Pugh!)
Maybe your mother was not much of a mother at all, because of substance abuse or mental illness. The mother in the memoir I am currently reading is an example of this: The Memory Palace, by, Mira Bartok. If so, I hope you will make every effort to break that cycle with forgiveness and love.
Some of you, much younger than myself, are pondering being a Mommy, dreaming about a little one in your future. You may be having some trouble bringing that dream to reality.
All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Abraham Lincoln
Whether you are an aunt to some special kids, a new Mommy, expecting, an empty nest Mom, or aiding a Mother in her late decades, smile at the gift that is today. Yes, today is a gift and that is why we call it the present!
Oh, and guys, be sure to take charge of the kitchen
and childcare details this weekend!
Whatever your current circumstances,
I hope Mother’s Day 2016 will be a special
time for you and yours!
Consider sharing this post on Facebook or email with the special mothers and grandmothers that you know.
Do you remember The Family Circus syndicated comic strip created by cartoonist, Bil Keane? Originating in 1960, and one of my favorites, I remember running to the AJC newspaper to find it every Sunday. The cartoons without fail left my spirit warm.
During this tumultuous and troubled season across our globe today, we have to find a way to keep our sense of humor and our healthy well-being.
ALL you need is LOVE. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.
Charles M. Schulz
Viewing a few Family Circus strips might help! You may not believe this, but many years ago, I collaged the front of our basement frig with Family Circus strips and they are still there today! It is fun to look at them again and again.
I hope you will enjoy them as much as our family has through the years.
What will you and I and our loved ones do in the days, weeks, and months ahead to maintain love and laughter in our moments?
There are so many ways to “LOVE WELL,” and this may actually mean very different things to different people depending on your circumstances and the people who surround you throughout your days.
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
As I was working on my last post entitled Five Ways to Love Well, it was easy to think of lots of ways to love well, so here we go with five more:
SHARE YOUR WISDOM AND TALENTS. Daddy played the clarinet for the residents at Atherton Place in Marietta, Georgia, where he lived for the last eight years of his life. He loved sharing his gift of music with everyone! Sometimes he even sang Unforgettable or Young At Heart. One of his many granddaughters benefitted from her GoodDaddy’s talent as shown here, they often played duets with their instruments.
BE OF SERVICE TO OTHERS. Here is our daughter, Leah driving her GoodDaddy home after one of our family parties.
As the rest of us were cleaning up dishes and putting away food, I recall Leah volunteering to run him back to his home at Atherton. He was happy to catch a ride with his granddaughter, too, as his face easily shows. As the weather gets cooler, model service to others by keeping warm, new gloves in your car and giving them to people on the street who look cold. Your children can hand these gloves to a stranger under your supervision and you will plant a seed of service that will grow and blossom.
COOK FAVORITE FOODS FOR YOUR LOVED ONES. Even though it’s been a few years since we had the same busy weekday schedule that many of you are carrying right now, I do so realize this is not the easiest thing to do! The crockpot was my best friend during the days of practices, homework, lessons and early bedtimes.
Consider finding yourself a copy of Fix it and Forget it! One of my favorite crockpot tools. A hardback copy can be purchased on Amazon for $0.01 plus $3.99 S/H.
I also used this other book pictured here for quick, healthy meals. In addition, as often as possible, I tried to involve the children in helping out in meal preparation.
Make it a “group effort” to get dinner on the table. Mama always loved helping out in the kitchen when she would visit our home, saying, “Give me a job!” Consider following my good friend, Lucy’s food blog: In A Southern Kitchen. One of her most recent posts features some short-cuts to healthy meals for the family.
PLAY WITH YOUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN. Even though our Dad worked very hard to provide for our family of six children, he would come home, get on all fours, and play “TIGER” with us. Same with my husband. Soon after our children were beyond the infant stage, he regularly had what we called “floor time” with them and they loved it! This involved tickling, wrestling, rolling around together. The giggling heard throughout the house was contagious, starting our evenings out in a happy way. This sounds so simple. These pictures are better examples than any words I could share with you! A Pastor and long-time friend, Garry goofs off with his grandson, Alex; a childhood friend of my sister Kathy, Peggy reads to her new baby girl twins; a baby is covered with “Grandma kisses.”
How many of you can relate to this!?!
And the last three are of Leah (now age 26) making memories with her grandparents.
CELEBRATE BIRTHDAYS! [pullquote]A birthday says ‘Thank you for being you.” On a birthday, we do not say ‘Thanks for what you did, or said, or accomplished.’ No. we say ‘Thank you for being born and being among us,” Nicole Johnson[/pullquote]My friend, Donna recently posted this beautiful birthday cake on Facebook as they celebrated one of her son’s special days.
What would you add to this list of ways to love well???
Here is a recap of our list from this post and the last one:
Be there for each other.
Stay connected with the help of technology and letters.
August 8, 2015 marked the one year anniversary of my friend, Susan B.’s mother’s passing. Her mom, Leah, passed on Leah’s grandson, Ryan’s 25th birthday. You can read more about this in a previous post entitled: Mother’s Day Evokes An Abundance Of Emotions. When Susan and I were chatting about this anniversary, she said, “I miss her every day, especially the woman she was before the disease. I know you understand!” My response was this: “I do so understand! Just after Mama died, our friend, Pam told me that even though her Mom had been gone for years, she still missed her every single day and probably always would. Now that it’ll be 9 years this coming October 24th, I can attest that this statement is truth. I do think of Mama and miss her every day…realizing that this is not all bad, because this is evidence that we loved well!” Since our conversation last week, I have been pondering what that means to LOVE WELL. Mama died, at age 78, just four short months following her diagnosis of esophageal cancer back in the fall of 2006.
Mom and Daddy had just celebrated the birth of their third great-grandchild, as well as their 58th wedding anniversary. And talk about “loving well,” they set the greatest example I have ever seen of that.
I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.
As I thought about loving well, I came up with a few ideas of how we can love those in our path while there is still time:
BE THERE FOR EACH OTHER. Tim and his family have been with us at our church since Tim was a very young boy. Angie and Doug, Tim’s parents, as well as Tim illustrate this so well. Even Ringer, Tim’s service dog is a great example of being there for each other. Tim has become one of the most positive and godly young men our family knows. His enthusiasm for life is truly contagious!
Be there for each other by having meals together. At family dinners, keep the conversation light by asking for “highs” and “lows” from each one’s day.
What does “being there for each other” mean in your sphere of influence?
STAY CONNECTED WITH PHONE CALLS, LETTERS, CARDS, EMAILS, TEXTS and even SOCIAL MEDIA. Mama always wrote letters and sent cards to those she loved.
Mom was known for this! If you have a student in college or one who lives away from you, consider writing them a letter every now or then. Send your thoughts of how proud you are of them and how important they are in your life! How about slipping an encouraging note under your teen’s pillow or in a student’s lunchbox. Though I don’t see my friend, Sandy, near enough, I frequently receive cheerful texts from her just letting me know she is thinking of me. A text like that can turn someone’s day around!
My friend, Terri recently received this post from her daughter, Nicole. As Nicole waits for her second daughter to be born in November 2015, it is obvious from this post that she has a Mom who loves her children and grandchildren well, a mother Nicole can emulate as she parents her young.
How can you and I stay better connected through letters, cards, emails or texts?
BE COMPASSIONATE AND KIND TOWARDS OTHERS. My husband, Donny’s thoughts on this was for us to show compassion and kindness in the workplace as another example of loving well.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent, or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Every beating heart has a story and we don’t really know the details of someone’s story unless we live with them or they choose to share it with us. When at work, or at play, let’s take a minute to love well by exhibiting a soft heart towards those in our path.
How can we show more compassion to those in our path, either at work or wherever we find ourselves?
PUT UP YOUR PHONE. Just so you know, the things I write about here on my pages are surely things I deal with, too! And this is one I admittedly have a hard time with. Back in the day, we didn’t even have cell phones, but now, of course, they are everywhere! When we are in a group, or even face-to-face with someone we care about, let’s work towards putting our phones off to the side and focus on others while there is still time. How about start by choosing one night each week at home, turning off the TV, where everyone agrees to “unplug” and hang out together, playing a game or just catching up.
How can you and I begin to make some small changes by putting our peeps before our phones?
Always there has been an adventure just around the corner-and the world is still full of corners.
Roy Chapman Andrews
Whether you are taking a hike, walking your grandchild hand-in hand down a driveway to collect the mail, visiting potential college campuses with your teen, a girls’ getaway, an afternoon of golf with your buds, moving out of the home you raised your babies in, or taking your family on a trip of a life-time, ADVENTURE is a good word for our daily vocabulary.
“Let’s go on an adventure!” can mean anything depending on the circumstances, but it can always depict “togetherness” and a reminder for us to appreciate the little things in life, to live fully in the moment, and to seek joy in each day.
Adventure is worthwhile in itself.
In the past, adventure has been understood to mean an exciting or unusual experience or a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome, but why can’t we begin to use this nine letter word to enhance our personal relationships and bring anticipation to an otherwise mundane event. I believe that just being together with those you love the most can be a great adventure no matter what you are doing!
I mentioned Helen Keller’s autobiography in my last post about the life of Ms. Oseola McCarty. (The Story of My Life) As challenging as Keller’s life was, she was always looking at her moments as adventures. Many of her quotes have inspired me through my life, but one of my favorites is here.
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.
Helen Keller (1880-1968)
When our children, Leah and Walker were ages four and one, as pictured here, we began to use the word “adventure” often.
One rainy adventurous day that both of our kids still talk about was when we walked for hours behind our home in torrential rain (no lightning or thunder) and Walker’s diaper got so heavy from jumping in puddles that his pants began falling down with every step. Leah and I were laughingly taking turns pulling his shorts back up for him before he would lose them again and laugh. Memories like this last a lifetime.
So how do we take more notice of the adventures in our moments…in our days. One idea from my friend I’ve known since first grade, Jan, is when grocery shopping, look for a new, unique item you have never tried or bought before and buy it! This may be some kind of fruit or vegetable, a new snack, or frozen item. Let me know what you find! And another friend, also from first grade at Fernbank Elementary, in Decatur, Georgia, Mary, suggests that adventure to her means spontaneity. I agree that spontaneity adds adventure to life for sure!
And one last thought about adventure, so often as we journey through our days, things just don’t go the way we have planned. Why not rather than becoming angry or frustrated, tell yourself: “Well, this wasn’t what I had in mind, but we are off on another “adventure”. Our intentional, positive response to our difficult circumstances or changes in our “route” can make a world of difference.
How will you and I begin to change our thinking regarding the word “ADVENTURE”?
[pullquote]Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” Robert Browning[/pullquote]
I celebrated my thirtieth birthday just two months before I became a first time mother to Leah Suzanne Page. I had been teaching for nearly a decade at Avondale Elementary and was so ready to be a mom! My husband and I had “unexplained infertility” for three years, so this made us even more excited to add a new baby to our family. The transition into motherhood can be tough on anyone. And it is not just the difficulty of the first one’s arrival, it is the continual development of the baby, brothers/sisters who follow that first-born, and of us as a mother. Of course, a child’s needs change and vary with each stage of his or her life. I still recall easily as a new mother sometimes wondering what my “identity” was. Before Leah, I had been an elementary teacher and then a lead teacher for the last four years. I had a lot of responsibility and I loved what I did. Especially as a Lead Teacher for Student Services, a pilot position in DeKalb County, I was able to help kids who really needed extra attention and TLC. When I found myself as a Mommy, one-on-one with this little precious person, I rarely, but on occasion, questioned my ability to handle this job assignment. That may sound odd, but it also may be familiar to you who have had a similar experience as me. I have always loved Carole King, especially her Tapestry album, and Beautiful became my theme song! Click here to hear this song and read the lyrics. Most moms, including myself, will agree that as mothers, there are greater rewards than can even be imagined! Though I am not yet a grandmother, lots of my girlfriends are, and I imagine it would be helpful to look back on the busy season of young motherhood when becoming a Grandma. Now that our two children are grown, college graduates, and both married to their best friends, it is fun to look back and think about a few of the job assignments and roles I have held with Leah and her brother, Walker, for the past two and a half decades:
Infant Stage Mom Assignment: baby cuddler, rocker, changer, a night-feeder, a light sleeper/early riser, and more, available for all shifts, 7 days a week, no vacation unless the ideal substitute has been secured and trip has been well planned out
Toddler Stage Mom Assignment: an athlete in top condition to safeguard busy toddler, quick reflexes, knowledge of first-aid is essential, 15 hour workdays, no coffee/lunch breaks unless child naps, boundless energy and infinite patience, provision of healthy snacks and meals, reads to child daily, begin manners teaching, praying with child, and more
Preschool Stage Mom Assignment: share time with newborn, brother: Donald Walker Page (see above infant stage for tasks needed with Walker, lol), provide books, puzzles, play doh, etc. in a loving, creative, learning environment for preschooler, two hours off five days a week when Mom’s Morning Out is in session and child is well, reads to child daily and more
Ages 6-12 Stage Mom Assignment: good understanding of many sports, chauffeur, willingness to be a scout leader, room mom, love of nature with no objections to mud, spiders, insect collections, pets, and neighbor’s kids, continues to read to child daily/child reads to mom, (see above toddler stage tasks for tasks needed with Walker) and more
Ages 13-18 Stage Mom: provider of money for chores, chaperone, specialist in adolescent psychology (haha), large-quantity cook, ability to recognize when presence is embarrassing child and casually disappear, encourager of independent reading by teen, counselor, (see ages 6-12 stage tasks for tasks needed with Walker) and more
Age 18 and Beyond Stage Mom: provider of more money, clothes, music, wheels, and more, NO advice necessary (unless solicited), and… this stage will last indefinitely <smile>
After going through these humorous, extensive lists, much of which I’ve likely inadvertently left off, I started thinking of a Focus on the Family article that I read early on in my mothering years. The article emphasized four phases of Parenting. Again, now that we have two grown children, I can attest that these phases are very accurate. While they do overlap, if these ideas are applied to the parenting of your children or even considered with your grandchildren, I believe you will find them as helpful as I have found them through the years.
PHASE ONE: COMMANDER: Early Years-In the first years of a child’s life, a parent does everything for him/her. During this phase, the following phrases are used repeatedly: “Yes, because…” or “No, because…”
PHASE TWO: COACH: Pre-teen Years-During this season, household chores are important, along with not only teaching the child about life, but also encouraging their growth from direction to self-direction. Try to help clarify, rather than dictate their choices, asking, “Would you rather do this or that?”
PHASE THREE: COUNSELOR: Teen Years-These are the years when a child can reasonably be expected to understand what is right, just, and fair. The operative phrase from the parent is, “That’s a decision you can make.”
PHASE FOUR: CONSULTANT: Freshman College and Beyond-This phase can truly be the most difficult of all because it involves letting go. The phrase to keep on the tip of our tongues is, “Please let me know if I can help.
You or someone you know may be starting out as a mother or a grandmother. I hope this has given you some good food for thought for wherever you are in your journey.
[pullquote]I’ve been afraid of changing ’cause I’ve built my life around you. But time makes you bolder, children get older, I’m getting older too. Oh yes. I’m getting older too.” Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac Landslide[/pullquote]