On Being a Parent: Speaking Words and Making Memories
My son Erick and his wife, Sara, came for a visit recently. The time passed so quickly. They loved the laid back outdoorsy atmosphere that is quite different from their fast-paced life in a much bigger city.
I planned sit down meals together with no television or entertainment, just time for lingering at the table for conversation and catching up on life. After all, we only see them twice a year, if we are fortunate.
Erick always leaves me with happy thoughts, as he tells me how much it means to him that he grew up around family. His dad worked away from home during the “growing up” years. Nearby grandparents, though, helped fill the gaps with fishing excursions, and talks on the pond bank, and the best cookies and cakes in the land from a grandmother’s kitchen. Erick spoke fondly of some of the theme cakes his grandmother made him through the years.
My parents never knew the impact they were making on my children’s lives from day to day. But do we ever? It’s always long after the fact that we realize our words or actions made a difference or changed a way of thinking or living. It’s a special gift to me when my sons tell of something I or their dad did or said that made a lasting impression.
Speaking of happy thoughts, I read a story recently of a little boy who was staying with grandparents while his parents were out of town. As he was being tucked in bed for the night, the grandmother noticed the sad look on his face. She made small talk, telling him how much she loved him and that she was glad he was staying overnight.
Then, trying not to let his emotions show, he asked in a small, quivering voice: “Will you please give me a happy thought? My mom always gives me a happy thought before I go to sleep.”
I never thought of giving “happy thoughts” to my children as I tucked them in at night. That is why I pass this along to you. You can be sure, though, that Savannah, my granddaughter in Spokane, receives happy thought texts from Nana since reading that story.
These thoughts can be as simple as “you did a really good job on your homework tonight,” or “I love the outfit you have picked out for school tomorrow,” or “if I were your age, I would want you for my best friend.” In a world that tends to point out defects even to the youngest, happy thoughts can bring positive feelings back to a child’s–or even an adult’s–perspective, especially at the end of the day, just before sleep.
Sincere upbeat words and good family memories do their part to add stability to our lives.
As for my visit with my youngest son and his wife, it didn’t last long enough, but we piled on the memories. All these memories are stashed in the soft places of our hearts, where we guard them and pull them out from time to time on special occasions. We look at each other and know for a fact that life is special and we are loved.
In the meantime, I’m growing wiser and sending sincere happy thoughts across the miles. I don’t know of a single person that doesn’t benefit from them.
“Family is not an important thing,
it is everything.”
— Michael J. Fox
Antje Hill spends time between Mississippi and Michigan and spends her time writing and speaking at various events.