Saturday, August 2, 2008

Read this and Loved it...Thought I'd Share

The Gift of Memories
“I love camping,” six-year-old Sara said as we returned home from a one-night camping trip. “When can we go again?”
I didn’t love camping. By the time my husband and I had prepared for every conceivable camping emergency, I was exhausted before we’d even left the house. Add to that the discomfort of sleeping bags, air mattresses, insects, and dirt—not to mention the hassle of keeping cold food cold and hot food hot, then another day of unpacking and washing when we got home—and I wondered, “Is one night away from home worth all this hassle?”
“Camping is no vacation for moms,” commiserated a friend. “I didn’t enjoy it at first. But my husband has so many wonderful memories of camping as a child that he really wanted our family to have that experience.”
One phrase from that conversation opened up my mind to the bright light of personal inspiration: “He has so many wonderful memories of his childhood.” I wasn’t just rearing children; I was preparing a future generation of parents—a generation that would need all the positive experiences I could give them to cope with an increasingly challenging world. Was it possible that children who have a happy childhood will be better parents?
The parenting puzzle of thousands of pieces came together into a whole picture for a moment. I couldn’t live my children’s lives for them, but I could give them a well of joyful memories from which they could draw throughout their lives.
Family home evening didn’t suddenly become a miracle of light every week, but even when the children were uncooperative and unruly, I tried harder to be consistent and to remember that teaching moments can become memories at unexpected times. I knew we were making progress when our young son asked, “Is it family home evening tonight?”
“That was last night,” I replied, “but we can still do something fun tonight.”
Helping my children feel and recognize the Spirit became another priority. When our children saw their grandmother receive a priesthood blessing prior to surgery, the presence of the Spirit was especially strong. Sara didn’t understand why she felt the way she did, and for nearly an hour I talked with her and explained that Heavenly Father often talks to us through feelings. I told her to remember those feelings so that she would know to listen when Heavenly Father was talking to her.
I started noticing other parents building memories for their children too. One time my husband had emergency surgery, and several days later a neighbor showed up with his four-year-old son at his side. “We’ve come to mow your lawn,” said the father. From my own experience, I knew that a four-year-old couldn’t help much, but I see that boy, now a deacon, often helping neighbors. The lessons and memories of his childhood are a natural part of him. I think he will be a great dad someday.
Seeing the value of memories has changed my perspective on being a parent. We no longer make messes; we make memories. One crisp autumn day I took my children and two of their friends to the park. As they ran from swing to slide and then rolled in the damp sand, I was filled with gratitude for this time they had to be kids. “Oh, remember this day,” I told them in my mind. “Remember the joy of autumn, of family, of friends, of God’s wonderful earth.” On the way home my son discovered enough sand in the car to make a handful and affectionately tossed it at me. We laughed together. We’d made a memory—we could clean the car any day.
I recall what Alma the Younger said about his conversion: that he remembered all his sins and iniquities (see Alma 36:12). But he also remembered the words of his father “concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world” (Alma 36:17). The angel opened Alma’s eyes to his past sins, but the memory of his father’s words brought him to his knees to ask for forgiveness.
I believe I understand better what is expected of me as a parent. I work harder at creating moments that matter. The demands of parenthood haven’t changed. Perhaps the pressure has even increased, but the blessings have also. I hope to pass on these insights to my children in memory after memory. Perhaps each precious memory I give my children will become another link in a chain of righteous parenthood as they help their own children make joyful memories. Eternal bonds, eternal memories.
And what about camping? It’s worth all the time we take and every memory we make. So we continue to make camping memories in our own way—by packing everything into the car and roughing it as painlessly as possible.
Ann S. Huefner, Utah

So, what memories have you made with your kids this week? What are your plans for tihs coming week?


vaxhacker said...

So very true. I'm not particularly proud of how often I've had to pull myself out of what I was busy working on with the realization that my kids needed a meaningful moment of my time, and they were so much more important than what I was doing.

Often I've had the best times without trying to set up a memorable experience, but just by entering their world and seeing what they'd like to do. And so it was that my kids and I spent ½ hour night before last playing on the Playstation together before bedtime. We loved the time together regardless of what it was exactly that we were doing.

Note to self: do more of that.

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