Some of my fondest memories are sitting atop my Nana’s kitchen table and helping her to roll out dough, punch it down, and form it into loaves. Whenever I’d visit my Aunt’s home, she’d plop me on top of her kitchen counter and let me crack the eggs, even when I got egg shells into her cake batter. For some reason, because I helped, everything always tasted better and today, I still hold those memories dear to my heart.
When I became a Mama 21 years ago, I made a promise to myself to make sure I didn’t shoo my children away every time they tried to stick their hands into something I was doing. Trust me, it isn’t always easy. When you are trying to clean the bathroom floor, on your hands and knees, and your 5-year-old kicks over the cleaning bucket because they are eager to get to the other side so they can help too, it can get really frustrating. It’s so easy to just growl at them in frustration and tell them to go play, because what child would really want to clean the bathroom floor? Wouldn’t they rather be playing, or watching TV or playing a game on the computer?
But, I learned early on in my Mamahood, that no, they really wouldn’t rather be doing any of those things. What they want is to help you, to be involved, to learn what it is that their mama or daddy is doing. What they want most is to spend time with you, no matter what it is that you are doing.
Weekends around our home can get pretty hectic. With five of our seven kiddos in school, our weekends are saved for bigger projects, running some errands, baking bread and goodies for the week. It would be so much easier if I did these things during the week when my kiddos were in school. I’d be able to just fly through my projects and get them done quickly. I wouldn’t have to stop continually to explain why I’m doing something the way I am, or to guide little hands so they can form the perfect, little, dinner roll.
But when I think about what it is that I want to leave behind for my children, a life filled with television shows, computer screens and afternoons spent in separate rooms isn’t part of the equation. I want to fill my children with memories, much like I had with my Nana and my Aunt. Much the same as the memories my mother left behind when she’d bake her Christmas cookies and she’d let me help or the memories my father gave me when he taught me how to pull the string back on a bow and shoot a rifle accurately.
One day, I won’t be here, my husband won’t be here, and I want my children to have happy memories with both of us. I want them to remember all the things we tried to teach them, all the times we spent together, all the good things we passed along to them. If we constantly chase them away, if we don’t let them kick over the bucket, or be playful when they are cleaning, or measure and cut the board wrong and have to redo it, they aren’t going to have those memories and they aren’t going to learn from their mistakes. If we don’t let them help with the meal plan, figure out the food storage or help with the survival gear, they aren’t going to learn to be prepared and self-sufficient.
Some of my best conversations with my children have been when we were busy cleaning the kitchen and sometimes, we put on music and we just get goofy and dance around a bit and that’s okay.