Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Give Me the Simple Life

When I was about nine-years-old my dad showed up at school one afternoon. He was about an hour early when he came to pick me and my little sister up.
"Where are we going, Daddy?" We both asked him.
"Well," he said as he held our hands, guiding us into the parking lot. "I have some things I need to drop off in Ashland and I knew we wouldn't get back in time for you girls so we thought we'd come pick you up from school."
Sure enough, Mom was in the front seat of our silver Honda Civic waiting for the three of us. This was a fun adventure for our little family. To drive all the way from Trail to Ashland would take the better part of an hour, but we didn't care. We chattered all the way as Daddy drove the car. It wasn't until we past the second exit that my mom realized we hadn't stopped yet.
"Rick, you just past the exit. Isn't that the one we were supposed to take?" She asked.
"Oh, well, I just thought that since we were headed this way that we would go to Disneyland too," he said.
"What?!?" We all screamed.
"You're kidding me?"
"What about our clothes?"
"Look in the back."
My sister, Kelly, and I whipped around and looked in the back of the car. In the back was a blanket and two big lumps under it. We yanked the blanket off and there sat our luggage. We went back to screaming with joy. Daddy had just given us the surprise of our little lives. We were going to Disneyland!

Do you know what's funny about that memory? I have forgotten much of that trip EXCEPT for the very beginning. I will always remember that day.

As a mom I long to recreate that memory with my own children, but times are tough right now as it is with everyone. I was reminiscing about this memory when I realized what made it so grand to go to Disneyland. Other then the fact that it's the happiest place on earth, it was also that it was a surprise.

I sometimes forget that the seemingly insignificant things in my mind can be very significant in my children's lives.

For example, another favorite memory was when we went to the Phil's Frosty, an ice cream shop, after dinner. We didn't do it often, but when we did it was always a sweet time on hot Summer evenings. There was also the times my mom and dad would pack for us girls and after church on Wednesday nights we would get the car and instead of driving home we would head south to Gramie and Papa's house in Santa Cruz. One summer evening when the church was in the process of being built we spent the night there. There was carpet on the flooring and doors, but no windows. We lived in a house that had no air conditioning and I think Mom and Dad were tired of sleeping in the sticky heat. That evening Mom or Dad had snuck sleeping bags into the hatch-back before we left for church. After the last member left they pulled out our bags and surprised us with an impromptu camp out. The wind picked up throughout the night and kept us cool as we slept soundly, together in one room.

As a little girl I didn't know money was scarce. Disneyland was a gift. There was no way we could have done that on my dad's income. Looking back now I realize how creative my parents were with what we did as a family. What we did was memorable because we were altogether as a family, making memories with what we were given.

I am comforted to know that the 'cheap' things we did are some of my most favorite memories and perhaps my children will remember those 'cheap' things we do with them. But I am also challenged in the ways I spend time with my children. I get so caught up in the things I want to do that involve money, but they would just as soon go to the park and throw a baseball to each other. I asked myself what if it isn't the big things in life that matter? What if its the small, daily adventures that will be cemented into their memories?

I still hold onto that dream of going to Disneyland with my children. I still desire to take a week trip to Hawaii with my hubby. Those are both fine dreams. But today I watched my children scream joyfully as they ran through the sprinklers at the local water park. I laughed as they zigzagged around the dumping water pails and then run back to the playground. It hit me, as it often does, how fast the kids were growing. In only a few short years they will be too old for these childish, yet wonderful, games. I've been married 13 short years. In another 13 years my baby girl will be 19 years old. Now I'm starting to feel old!

It's very possible that in the next fifteen to twenty years I could be sitting on that same park bench, watching my grandchild run through sprinklers. It hit me today that this was a sweet time in my life. Sure, life is stressful with bills, scheduling conflicts, and getting the kids to school on time. And that's on a good day!

Live is also short. Kids grow up. Its that whole 'circle of life' thing we were taught in The Lion King. I want to make memories with the time I have now. Maybe someday we can go to Disneyland as a family. Maybe not. What's important isn't where we go, but what we do as a family. Being together with our kids while they still want us around.  It's a walk around the neighborhood with Logan, a discussion with Garrett about heroes, It's a drive to Walmart with Trevor, or it's playing dress-up with Ellainna. These are the days to enjoy them. These are the memories I will treasure in my heart always.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This Day.....

I accomplished nothing today. I didn’t plan to do nothing, it just happened. I actually had a long list of housework duties to catch up on.

1. Gym – workout
2. Fold several loads of laundry
4. Wash dishes
3. Do several more loads of laundry
5. Sweep kitchen
6. Wash and fold more laundry
7. Vacuum

The list goes on and I had high hopes to get it all done. What I didn’t take into account were my four children. They all needed me. It wasn’t to help clean their rooms or finding play clothes, tying shoes, or finding a favorite toy. Today they just needed me, my time. They needed me to hug them, talk to them.

We looked at family pictures and I told them funny stories about them when they were babies. We read books together. Everywhere I went my two-year-old daughter toddled behind me, desiring just to be held.

So I gave up my plans to clean the house today. Instead I watched movies and read books with my children. I cuddled my sons and daughter. I sat down and ate dinner with them and laughed at their jokes and stories. And after I got them into bed I didn’t feel the relief I usually feel. Instead, I felt wonderfully happy because I spent time showing my children love by being with them.

Often I have looked at my two older boys and my heart aches to hold them as babies and kiss their sweet faces good night. I realize how fleeting time really is and the moments I have with them now will soon be a memory. I want to grab my children and hold onto them tightly because I know there will come a day when they will leave. Not too long ago I resented staying home. I felt like I was missing out on the fun and excitement of life. Sometimes I wished for a job outside the home just so I could get dressed up and accomplish something for that day. I longed for the days of homework from school because I knew that it wouldn’t mysteriously undo itself in the middle of the night like my housework always seems to do. But now I am seeing things in a different light. What is really important here?

The laundry will always be here. I might even catch up on it someday. The dishes will get done tomorrow, the same for sweeping the floor. But my babies won’t be babies very long. There will come a day when I will walk into my daughter’s room and I won’t be able to soothe her fears by rocking her and singing a song. Another day will come when I will enter my oldest son’s room only to see him packed and ready for college. Someday my little Trevor will be a groom waiting for his bride instead of the dimpled cheek boy with big green eyes I see every morning. Someday I may see my strong son, Garrett, in uniform and saluting his commander as he graduates from boot camp. Someday my house will be clean… and empty.

I know when those days come I won’t look back on good memories of how tidy and organized my house was. Instead, I will think of my children’s laughter when their daddy tickled them, early mornings when a little body would snuggle up next to me, and quiet moments rocking my daughter and singing her Cinderella songs. I will have these memories tucked away in my heart and I’ll just smile, even laugh a little, and be thankful for the sweet time I had my children all to myself.