Parenting: A Sacred Influence
By Phyllis Moyes
I recently saw a video that deeply touched my heart. Although it is a story about an incredibly in-tune school teacher, and his ability to see past a child's active temperament, I couldn't help but think about the power of the message as it applies to motherhood. Take a look:
Be a Mr. Jensen
Don't you love that? It is easy to focus on the weaknesses and imperfections in our children, casting labels and stereotypes on them. But our words are potent influences whether we like it or not.
That video reminded me of a book I read years ago called the Secret Life of Water, written by Masaru Emoto, an internationally recognized Japanese researcher, lecturer, and writer. In the book, Emoto experiments with frozen water droplets. Once they reach -25 degrees centigrade, he allows them to begin thawing, and while they are melting, he speaks to them. When the droplet temperature reaches 5 degrees below zero, he looks at the crystals under a microscope, magnified 200x's.
Look at these results. Remember, all of these ice crystals come from the same water source, are thawed identically, and are photographed congruently.
Like and Hate
Happiness and unhappiness
Thank you. You idiot. Thank you. You idiot.
Isn't it incredible that you can see the crystal trying to be both labels (thank you and you idiot) in that last picture? Did you know that water makes up about 70% of the human body, and our language makes us unique from any other species? Can you see how important our choice of words is when interacting with our children? I loved Mr. Jensen's interaction with Clint Pulver, "you're not a problem; I think you're a drummer." Clint Pulver is a successful motivational speaker, actor, and musician, all because someone saw beyond behavior to his heart and gifts.
As mothers, we can have irreplaceable positive influence on our children's lives; let's be Mr. Jensens'!
You can learn more about Clint Pulver here
Here is a link to The Secret Life of Water
Our Secret Weapon
By Annette T. Durfee, Momivate's Cultivate Leader
Here's a riddle for ya: What doesn’t cost a cent, is non-fattening, and we literally NEED it to survive? If you guessed a HUG, you are right! Yes, a good old-fashioned hug! Can you believe it? Something so simple as a hug is actually a necessary part of our survival as human beings. The reason for this is that when we hug or are hugged our body releases oxytocin (a hormone that reduces that stress producing hormone cortisol). So, the more hugs we have, the better we can handle the stresses life throws in our path. In fact, Psychotherapist Virginia Satir found out that we literally NEED 4 hugs a day, just to survive, 8 hugs for our maintenance, and for 12 hugs a day for growth!
Just how powerful is a hug anyway? If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then it might not surprise you that 12 hugs a day might just do the trick as well. Medically speaking, a 10 second hug has a powerful effect on our health. It not only does wonders by lowering blood pressure, but it can fight fatigue and infections, improve your immune system, and ease depression. And if that is not enough, hugs have a positive effect on child development and IQ, and actually boost their self-esteem as well as their ability to project self-love as an adult. I like the sound of that!
The very thought of all of those great benefits makes me hope that we will say . . .
I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins
Well, I like winning, don’t you? And I like having my children win. And if it means that I get to smother them with hugs and kisses, then so be it! In some wonderful way that we may not fully comprehend, hugs have the power to invisibly heal and lift. We might even call hugs our secret weapon to helping our children feel special and loved! With or without a word, a hug says, “You are so wonderful! I’m so glad you’re mine!” In times of stress, they communicate, “I’m here for you.” “Let’s work together.” When our children are sad, a hug reaches out and says, “I feel your pain,” or after a conflict, “Let’s start over.” And don’t forget the times of rejoicing, “I can’t believe this! You are SO amazing!”
We probably don’t have to worry too much about getting in our quota of hugs for the day. I believe that most of these will come naturally. We’ll greet our children in the morning with an “I’m so glad to see you” hug and enfold them in love with a “you’re the best” hug before they go to sleep. We’ll give them a quick “wishing you a happy day” hug on their way out the door and an “I’m SO glad you’re home” hug when they return. We’ll remember a “Hope you feel better soon” hug to sooth the sickies and an “I’m sorry” hug to help mend a quarrel. And at any moment throughout the day, we’ll slip in a “how are you doing?” hug and or an impromptu heart to heart “You are a joy in my life!” hug.
One way or another, we’ll wrap our arms and our hearts around our families, we’ll let our words match our actions, and we’ll let them know that rain or shine, they are the best thing that ever happened to us – a true win-win, and all thanks to our secret weapon.
By Haley Lachnidt, Momivate's Unique Circumstances CouncilMom
I asked people who identify with the LGBTQ+ community what they wish their families would or wouldn’t have said when they came out, and these were the responses:
“If my parents would have shown a little bit of support it would have made a world of difference. Instead, they took away all of my possessions that made me happy, they bullied and beat me. Now, they can’t understand why I can’t get close to them. I just wanted to be accepted. Now they tell me they don’t believe I’m really bisexual.”
“I wish my mom would have said something, anything at all. I wish my dad would have told me that he still loved me, rather than telling me I was going to fail at every relationship for the rest of my life.”
“I wish they didn’t tell me what I was doing is disgusting.”
“I just wish my sister wouldn’t have said ‘you just left an abusive relationship, you aren’t gay, it’s just a phase,’ not realizing I’ve been gay my whole life. I just hid my sexuality and forced myself to wear a straight mask in order to survive our family. My parents were the only people that didn’t know, and when I finally got the guts to tell them, my mom couldn’t shut up about how my brother is dating ‘a bisexual’ and how disgusted she is by it. I wish I could hear ‘I just want you to be happy, I love you no matter what.’ I know I will never hear that from my family, so I always make sure I say it to my own son.”
“I wish my mom hadn’t acted accepting and then requested I leave my identity at home when she’d invite me over. I wish she had the decency to say what she really wanted to say about it when I came to her the first time, instead of pretending and giving me false hope that I’m still accepted.”
“I wish my father hadn’t said I need therapy and would have accepted me along with all of my friends.”
“I haven’t told my family. I have known I’m gay since I was 11 years old and I have not told anybody. I did try to tell my mom when I first discovered it, and she questioned me like she didn’t believe me or trust in the fact that I know who I am attracted to. She’d go behind my back talking to my friends about how my taste in men has always been feminine men, but she’d also say it was only a phase. She acted accepting to my face, but I could see in her eyes and in the things she’d say behind my back that she didn't mean it. I’ve hinted it towards the rest of my family but I also listen to the things and the slurs they openly say when talking about the LGBTQ community. I don’t think I will ever tell them. I know if I did I wouldn’t have a family anymore, and that’s the loneliest feeling in the world. I just wish I could have a family, even if they don’t understand it, I wish they would just accept me as their family no matter who I love. I wish I didn’t have to feel like a stranger and an outsider in my own family anymore.”
“I wish my dad would’ve started using my chosen name and pronouns. I wish he wouldn’t have made me out to be the bad guy, like me being who I am was causing him pain.”
“I have been lucky. My mom has been absolutely lovely. I actually got this text from her the week after I told her. She had bought a decorative pillow with hearts in the shape of a rainbow and told me ‘bought you something, I love you for who you are.’ She asked some questions that you generally shouldn’t ask, but she gets a pass because I want her to ask me anything if it can help her to understand. She’s supportive, it’s just still new to her. I also got a text from my aunt after I spent a weekend with her and told her I have a girlfriend. She essentially said she will always be the leader of my fan club because I’m her girl, I’m me no matter who I love, and that the whole family will always love me for me, no matter what.”
LGBTQ youth want nothing more than to be loved and accepted by their family. Family is the most important thing no matter who you love or who someone else in your family loves. When anybody, part of the LGBTQ+ community or not, has family on their side, facing the rest of the world becomes a lot easier than it would be without family.
LGBTQ youth face many challenges from the rest of the world. Challenges such as bullying, harassment, discrimination, stalking, and even trouble finding jobs or being allowed to participate in extracurricular activities at school, and the only reason for this hatred is because of who they can’t help but love.
With family on their side, the risks LGBTQ youth face as a consequence of harrassment and discrimination such as self-harm, suicide, mental illness, homelessness, and substance abuse can greatly decrease.
Hate does not counteract love. Love conquers all.
By Annette T. Durfee, Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom
You have waited and waited AND (have I mentioned?) WAITED for this day! Nine months – give or take – and now, couldn’t you just stare hour after hour, at this little bundle of joy? Can you even believe it? Your thoughts have centered around this little one almost every minute of every day. And – phew! After discovering why it’s called “labor!” the baby has (FINALLY) arrived! Way to go Mom!
Having crossed the finish line, the sheer wonder of a new life placed in your arms fills you with anticipation of what lies ahead. Caressing that sweet downy soft head. Kissing each tender tiny toe and marveling as you trace those little eyes, nose, lips, ears. Those mini-fingers wrap their adorable frailty and dependence around your soul.
Wonder and joy sit side by side with the exact opposite: nagging feelings of exhaustion, inexperience, frustration. The discomforts of pregnancy are now replaced by new ones: Cesarean or episiotomy wounds. Sore nipples. Baby blues. Tired… SO tired. As much as we want to enjoy this experience of Mommyhood, we instantly realize that it isn’t going to be a piece of cake!
So please remember to be kind to yourself.
You are a walking miracle maker and now is the time to take good care of you. A time to heal. A time to take it easy. A time to be good to that number one Mommy.
Survival mode - Just as you finish doing the dishes and laundry, another load is calling your name. How is it possible to keep up with the many demands on your time and energy? Remember that at these times, you and your baby’s needs come first. It is clearly time for Survival mode. We’re talking basics here. The goal is not to have a spotless house, but to “love on” your children. If I can get the dishes tidied up once a day, a batch of laundry running, and maybe even a garbage taken out, I feel accomplished. Or better yet, use paper plates and cups. Save the environment later, when you have more time and energy!
Savor the moment - As with each stage in the life of children, I have found over and over again that with a new baby, there are both really hard things and really beautiful things – things that will never happen again: The sound of the newborn cry, the darling startle reflex, peeling skin, the smell of their neck nestled into yours, their first bath, their tiny toes. You may want to jot down notes about firsts, funny things they do, milestones, and your feelings. Capture the moment with frequent snapshots. There will be plenty of time for scrapbooking later if that’s a priority for you, but for now, just share them with friends and family so you can rejoice together!
Sleep - You know the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” Sister, it’s so true! The whole world looks like a friendlier place when you are rested. So toss out all the old important TO DOs on your list. Now is the time for a new list, and loving yourself enough to get some sleep is at the top of that list. If there is a choice between getting something done and getting some sleep, choose sleep. I know that this is not easily accomplished. So, for starters, sleep when the baby sleeps. Yes, this is harder to do once you have more than one child, so don’t be shy in asking for help from a friend or family member. Also, with a little know-how and practice, you can train your child to sleep. They’re going to have to learn how to do it on their own sometime anyway. Don’t be that mom that wished she had learned about sleep sooner, but alas, she was too tired! Two excellent resources on this topic are: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. and The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.
Time away - Let’s face it – Sometimes being a mom is just plain lonely. You spend many quiet hours even in the middle of the night, rocking, feeding, cuddling, soothing. All good things, right? But the overall effect can be draining if you don’t get a little time for yourself. Remember that as much as you love your baby, it is good to “baby” yourself sometimes, Mama! What does that look like? A weekly date night! Time with a friend on the phone or in person. An hour or two for personal time to shower, read, relax, or even take a nap. A walk around the block for a little fresh air and movement. Mommy is a person too and someone has to take time to “mother” her. So schedule in a little time for yourself each day. Think of it as a time to rejuvenate rather than a selfish action, because dear, it is anything but selfish. You will come back energized and excited to spread a little love and sunshine in your children’s lives. And besides that, you are worth it!
By Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom, Annette T. Durfee
One of my favorite things to do while growing up was to visit my grandmother’s homes on both sides of my family. I think everyone enjoyed it! I have to mention that while some people have “cookie” Grandmas, I had TWO "ice cream Grandmas!” My Grandma Durrant always had her freezer stocked with a favorite flavor at a moment’s notice. And my Grandma Tenney would let us sit on her back porch and grind the handle of the old-fashioned ice cream maker with a fresh cream mixture until the ice cream was nice and thick! YUM! So, was it the ice cream factor that made my Grandmas' homes such special places to visit? Being the ice cream lover that I am, I confess my answer to that question: “YES!”
But, of course, there was more -- much more!
In fact, everything in my grandmothers' homes spoke in a special way to my heart:
Don’t we all want that kind of a home? A home filled with warmth and love! Happily, it is something we can all achieve with work, creativity, time, and a whole lot of help from above! One song that describes this loving ambiance we want in our homes is called, “Home,” written by Caroline Eyring Miner:
Home is where the heart is
Where warmth and love abound
Home is where encircling arms
Go all the way around.
--by Caroline Eyring Miner
A home, as we all know, is more than just the furniture and the stuff we own. It is made up of the people who live there – our family! Therefore, in order for a home to have that ambiance of love that we desire, one of the most important things we can do is to prioritize our time to strengthen our relationships with our families.
In families, love is spelled T-I-M-E.
Time spent with our families is a true investment that pays long term dividends. When we spend time with our family, we increase our family’s capacity to feel loved and secure in our home. What we are really saying is, “I have time for you. You are important to me.” Time spent with family doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective, but both quantity as well as quality are important and consistency is key.
How do YOU spell love with your family? What message are you sending with the events on your calendar? Here are a few ways that strong families send their families a little love note to pump up the love-meter in their homes:
1. Set aside a weekly family night – What could be better than a time reserved just for your family each week where you all have a blast together?! Start out with one and build up to planning out a few at a time. Keep it simple or spruce it up. Just make it a night that the whole family looks forward to! It’s a great time to teach your family values as well as life skills. Play games and activities or go on outings! Maybe even work on a project together once in a while! And always – I mean ALWAYS - include a special treat!
2. Set aside a weekly family planning meeting – This is a great time to calendar events, share goals and dreams, and express ideas that will strengthen your family and leave everyone feeling calm and reassured. What can you do to assist them? How can they in turn help the family run more smoothly? You can do this as part of your weekly family night or at dinner. Just find whatever time works best for your family.
3. Individual Attention – One-on-one time with your children can be an effective way to connect with them even if it’s only a few minutes a day. Maybe you do this as you prepare dinner together, go on a short outing, run an errand together, or enjoy a special bedtime routine. Letting them talk about whatever is on their mind and really listening to them without judgment or criticism will help them to feel important and loved.
4. Unplug – In a world that is running at breakneck speed, we don’t want our families to get lost in the shuffle. So be sure to take a little time each day AWAY from phones, computers, television, and so on, not only to benefit yourself, but so that the whole family can really connect. This electronic free time becomes your chance to look each other in the eyes, talk together, laugh together and learn from one another, so don’t let it pass you by!
5. Eat meals together - Even if you can’t do it for every meal of every single day, do what you can to regularly schedule this important time together. Making it a priority to eat together blesses our families tremendously! Children whose families eat together not only develop healthier eating patterns and have better health, but they have a better vocabulary and academic performance, a higher self-esteem, a greater sense of reliance, and a lower risk of depression, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy.
6. Make and keep family traditions – Silly or special, extensive or simple, taking time to infuse family traditions lights a spark of joy and love in families. Some families have a song or a cheer. Some gather for a family prayer and group hug before heading out the door each morning. Some explore a special place each year. It really doesn’t matter what the tradition is, only that you do it and remember to keep doing it. Whether it’s as simple as having green eggs and ham on St. Patrick’s Day, strawberry pancake stacks on Valentine’s, or a treasure hunt on birthdays to find the presents, traditions not only give children something fun to look forward to, but help them to feel emotionally supported.
My grandmothers always had time for their family. They could have done a million other things, but instead they chose us. They turned on the love-meter in their homes by including us in their lives - teaching us how to do ceramics, raking the leaves together, playing a game of cards, going for a walk together to the post office. The ambiance in their homes was more than just physical surroundings, although that was certainly part of it. By opening up their calendars, what they were doing in essence was allowing us the time to open up our hearts to them, time with which they could then use to share their powerful influence for good. Now that’s what I call time well spent!
When Your Child Misbehaves
By Annette T. Durfee, Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom
They all do it. You know - that thing that drives you up a wall! No matter the age of your child and in spite of your best efforts, they inherently know exactly what button to push to get us to react. And it seems that the more we push for them to stop it, the more they pull back until the tug of war has escalated and within seconds, the sense of peace and beauty that we so desire in our homes is ruined. So what do we do? How can we conquer this frustrating behavior that frays at our nerves, fuels our frustration, and tests the limits of our patience?
Here are a few ideas that I have found helpful.
1. Take a break.
Take a few steps back. Retreat into my room for a few minutes – ALONE. Breathe! Regroup. Punch a pillow if it helps! Timeout for Mommy is not only healthy, but a sanity saver! As you remove your presence from the child they also get a chance to recover and try again. And while I take a break, I do what my knees were made for – I PRAY! When mothering moments go awry, I need help from a higher power. For me, this is God. I have found that He is always there – never too busy for me, never burdened by yet another plea for help. I pour out my heart with my worry, frustration, anger, and then, I LISTEN.
Sometimes I get an idea – I can see how I could have prevented the situation or how I could react in a better way next time or something simple I could do to help my child. It may not be the entire solution to the problem, but it is enough to get me headed back in the right direction. And as I implement that God-given idea, I regain confidence and my child and I regain a positive momentum. Other times after prayer, I am left with a simple yet reassuring sense of peace: I can handle this. I’ve got what it takes. I am a good mother. And other times, the answers aren't immediate but come along the way as God, my Father in Heaven goes behind-the-scenes with me and adds to my efforts.
2. Become curious.
Ask, “Why?” Why is my child behaving this way? What could he or she be feeling right now? What things are going on in this stage of their life that could cause this? Is there a little sibling rivalry going on? Is there a new baby that is diverting my attention? Perhaps something going on at school? I wonder: what is hard for them? How do they feel about themselves right now? Is there something I could do or say that would help to redirect their attention to something positive? When we become curious, we open up the door to the possible feelings of our children and we become more compassionate, empathetic, more loving. We can even help them to feel supported by helping them voice their own feelings. “Are you feeling sad, frustrated, lonely? How can I help?”
3. Model the behavior you want to see.
As hard as it may be to believe, it just may be that your child has not thought of a better way of doing things, even despite perpetual broken-record pleas from you. They may be in need of a consistent example to follow. Let’s say that your child has developed a habit of running through the house screaming. Although it may make you feel like pulling your hair out and yelling back, muster the mentality to smile and speak with a calm and quiet voice instead. “Let’s use our inside voices.” The important people in our children’s lives are like great big mirrors. What our children see in us, we will also eventually see in them. So, let’s be the best mirrors we can be accompanied with a smile, a hug, and a kiss.
Whatever we give our children attention for they will repeat. We already know that our children do the things that drive us bonkers often to get attention. So why not turn it around and use this to our advantage? Rather than handing out negative attention, we could choose to focus on those things that we want to continue and offer praise when we see them. For example, when I wish that the children would not fight and argue, I notice and thank the child at a time when they are being a peacemaker. “I love it when . . .” You fill in the blanks. My mom did this for me once in a simple way that stuck with me. One day she gave me a Mr. Goodbar candy bar with the explanation, “because you’re so good.” I didn’t know about shaping then, but every time I remembered that tasty treat, along with her other caring words and deeds, I felt like I was good and I tried to prove her correct!
5. Realize that we are not meant to control others.
I think I all too often learned this lesson the hard way, scraping the heels of my feet as I skidded along the road of hard-won control. As I struggled to learn a better way, I reflected often on a quintessential quote that I pinned on my Value Board:
“Never let a problem to be solved, become more important than a person to be loved.”
-- Thomas S. Monson
Such a beautiful reminder! This thought helped me to remember that the little people in my life were not bad, they were learning, just like I was learning how to mother with love.
Our children will inevitably do things that we do not approve of and this is not, I repeat NOT an indicator that we have failed as parents. And while that means that at times we need to discipline, we can leave out the empty threats, arguing, bribery, fighting.
Yes, our mission is not to control, but to teach, to influence, set an example, and - the best part of all - love them like crazy!
Oh The Places You'll Go
By Meagan Waite from the Discovery Family Coalition
Dr. Seuss, the beloved children’s author, wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” on a bet. The co-founder of Random House Publishing, Mr. Bennett Cerf, wagered that Seuss couldn’t write a book that had fewer than 50 unique words. Seuss won 50 bucks, and we have a piece of literary art with which one cannot help but rhyme along.
If you haven’t read it, you should. It can get you thinking about the relationship between what you believe and what you experience. It can encourage you to think outside the box (no would-nots, could-nots for you!) and try new things. It can give you courage to show resilience in the face of challenges, opposition, and adversity.
Yes, reading can do that for you.
March is National Reading Month. It has been designated as such in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, March 2. My Discovery Destination! is celebrating. How? With a Discovery Hunt, of course! In fact, we bet YOU that you are going to love this Hunt, and we dare you to try and prove us wrong.
Oh the places you’ll go! It’s easy! Download the GooseChase app and search for the Hunt with the name “Oh The Places You’ll Go” (named in honor of Dr. Seuss, as is this article) or with the game code “SEUSS”. You are going to want to get started right away. The Hunt is full of Adventures that are educational. They are fun. And they have the ability to strengthen your family and build resilience in your children.
Yes, Discovery Hunts can do that for you.
By Esperanza DeLaLuz
Being a mother is a thing which changes you forever. Once you make that commitment to a child, it’s the child’s well-being, growth, and happiness that is the most important thing in your world. You’ll go without sleep, go hungry, clean up disgusting substances, labor for hours to create the perfect event or costume, and spend hours and hours repeating activities that would otherwise be incredibly boring.
Recently I found myself playing 27 games of Candyland in a row because my 5-year-old granddaughter loves that game and can play it competently. I don’t like Candyland, but I love the excitement on her face when she makes a good move, or the exuberant thrill when she wins. Even the sadness when she has to go backwards is just adorable!
Do you know the history of Candyland? An article in the Atlantic recently described it! During the Polio era, before vaccines, there were lots of very young children in hospitals and they were very bored, lonely and unhappy. But many of them were too young to read and unable to play games without adult involvement.
In 1948, a retired schoolteacher named Eleanor Abbott decided to create a board game that could become a distraction for very young patients. The outbreak had forced children into extremely restrictive environments. Concerned with the spread of polio, parents kept their children indoors, and children were frustrated. Games like Candy Land became an ideal way to keep them occupied.
Children who had contracted polio were isolated, physically weak and often confined by equipment. Candy land was designed to let young children play by themselves. As long as the child can count to 2 and match colors the child can play. Candy Land offered the children confined in hospitals welcome distraction—but it also gave immobilized patients a liberating fantasy of movement. The joy of movement, especially for polio patients, seems to have been integral to Abbott’s design philosophy from the start. The original board even depicts the tentative steps of a boy in a leg brace!
The game teaches pattern recognition and following instructions. It shows children how to play together—how to win humbly or lose graciously. The game is designed to be outgrown. As soon as a child realizes that there is nothing that, they can do to alter the course of the game, they begin to desire more challenging entertainments. But there will always be young children who need a game that they can play, and Moms and Nannas who will play 27 games in a row for the pure joy of watching a child play.
READ the whole history here: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/07/how-polio-inspired-the-creation-of-candy-land/594424/
Mom's Secret Ingredient!
By Momivate's "Atmosphere" CouncilMom, Annette T. Durfee
Mom must have been magic!
Really! Everything she touched in the kitchen tasted like gold in your mouth! (well, except for liver and onions – but hey, I’ll forgive her for that!) But seriously - melt-in-your-mouth rolls, warm creamy soups, comforting casseroles, tantalizing roast beef dinner, savory shepherd’s pie…I could go on and on!
Just what is it that made Mom’s cooking so great?! Was it the splendor of eating in a palatial hall on bona fide China? Was it that she served a 7- course meal made purely from scratch? Or was it that she spent the entire day slaving away in the kitchen?
Hardly! Mom was -- and still is -- a fantastic cook and hard worker to boot, but practicality has always been a quality that was surely at the forefront of her mind. You and I both know the real reason for that mouth-watering taste of home: Mom served every meal with a heaping spoonful of her secret ingredient . . . LOVE.
Yep! I knew that she loved me when I ate it. I’m quite sure that I didn’t fully recognize it then -- in fact, I probably underappreciated her efforts. Regardless, her secret was there - sort of an underlying message that would waft through the kitchen and down the hall, whispering for us to keep coming back – back to the kitchen, back to the table, back to the warmth of her influence – sign, sealed, and delivered with a kiss.
So how do WE do that, Moms? How do we, with limited time and means, and sometimes limited skills in the kitchen, infuse as much love into the process so that even if it’s not their favorite dish, our families KNOW that we love them when they eat it?
Here are a few ideas to add to a list of your own fabulous ideas:
Plan ahead – Nothing says “stress” in the kitchen quicker than not having a meal ready when hungry tummies come calling. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the “hangries” and that doesn’t even come close to that warm feeling we are trying to create. So, what can we do to avoid this? Mom took a few minutes each day to prepare the meal – taking the meat from the freezer to the fridge the night before or squeezing in a few minutes in the morning to start the crockpot going. Many moms also plan out meals a week or so in advance so they can add items to the grocery list for a one-stop trip. Let’s see, anything special this week? Andrea’s birthday cake on Friday and the potluck social on Saturday. And of course, we’re really busy on Tuesdays and Thursdays so we need a quick and easy option for those nights. Some families choose to make it simple by assigning a theme to every day – something like: Mondays – Italian, Tuesdays – Taco Tuesdays, Wednesdays – soup or salad, Thursdays – crockpot dinner, Friday – pizza night, Saturday – leftovers, Sunday – sweet and simple. What kind of plan would work best for your family?
Bring along a helper or two – If you’re like just about every mom on the planet, you don’t have a lot of time to spare, so why not engage your mini chefs? That seemed to be the way it was with Mom. We not only felt her love with the delivery of the meal, but she infused an extra sprinkle of love into the meal by including us in the very process. There we were, side by side, where she gave one-on-one instruction on peeling the carrots, shredding the cheese, chopping the bananas, and browning the hamburger, all the while sharing stories and building trust. When my children were small, I tweaked this a little bit. I found it to be more than a little chaotic and unsafe with everyone “helping” in the kitchen all at once. So, I capitalized on their interest and willingness to help at a young age by assigning one child per day to help me with meal prep. With only one child to focus on, I found it was a lot of fun. And if my children made it, they usually ate it too! After a few years, I put them in charge of making one dish for the meal and eventually the entire meal with me there to supervise if there were questions. When time came for them to walk out the door to go to college, they had become great cooks and could really fend for themselves! Now that’s love in your pocket!
Eat together as much as possible – Thinking back to those growing up years with Mom, I realize that it wasn’t so much WHAT we were eating as that we were eating together. Mom not only took time to make it just for us, but then she ate WITH us. That fact helped us feel that we were the most special people in her life. She had time for us. Dinner became a time to linger longer and talk it out. What was funny? What was hard? What did we do when we were little? What did we learn in school? What was important to us now? She learned from us and we in turn learned from her – manners, values, attitudes, beliefs, her life lessons, how to laugh at life, how to get along with each other, and how to tackle the hard stuff that life threw at you.
These are just a few of the little things that strong families are made of and can create a bit of heaven in our homes. In fact, that idea reminds me that one time in her late teens, my youngest sister said, “Do you know what heaven is going to be like? It’s going to be just like this – all of us sitting around a table and visiting and laughing while we enjoy good meals.” Well, I’m all for that – especially if it includes a little homemade pie with ice cream! So, whether it’s a fancy night of chicken cordon bleu or a simple PB&J sandwich, trust that you’ve got that special ingredient right up your sleeve, ready to make any meal a magical memory.
Love is in the air!
by Meagan Waite, Assistant Director - My Discovery Destination!
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and the world is all-aflutter with overpriced red roses, paper hearts, and boxes of chocolate. I am also aware of the fact that some people refer to February 14 as Singles Awareness Day–I am in that demographic myself. Now I’m not down on romance just because I am currently footloose and fancy free. Just because this is the month of “amore” doesn’t mean that it is only referring to fairytale love.
English is among the largest languages by word count. That being said, we native English speakers don’t have nearly enough for the word “love.” Now, the Greeks…they know about words of love.
Eros means passion. Philia is a deep friendship. Ludus is a playful love. Philautia is the love of self. But, it is agape, the love for everyone, and pragma, long standing love, that I wish to talk about.
I believe that the love of a parent for their child falls into a combination of agape and pragma–an all encompassing, lasting love. And when you love someone you want to wrap them up, hold them tight, and protect them from the world. But, it is the nature of children to grow up, become adults, and have children of their own (and in case you aren’t yet there, grandchildren are the BEST!).
Once you find yourself in the phase of life with adult children and grandchildren, you can no longer safeguard your babies from everything because they are no longer babies. Take my advice–while your children are young, wrap them up in the protective bonds of family, proven to be the best prevention for risky behaviors.
We are all busy so make the best of the limited time you have. The Discovery Family Adventures are fun, fast, flexible, and free. The Teaching Important Parenting Strategies (TIPS) that are built in make interactive, deliberate parenting effortless.
Show your children you love them. Give them experiences that will protect them for adulthood, parenthood, and beyond. Give them something they can pass down to those grandbabies.
Our Team of CouncilMoms take turns submitting blog posts in each area of the RAISE UP acronym. Guest authors are encouraged to submit their blog posts as well (CONTACT US for more info! Thank you!)
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