Have you noticed how we have totally fallen for friendly consumer-driven suggestions that tell us we need this, this or that to be happy? It seems, according to advertising, there is just one more thing we must purchase to be content. But what about simple pleasures, those activities that are still free? When was the last time you walked in the rain or sat and marveled at the beauty of a rainbow? What about walking in the woods on an autumn day, when the leaves fall around you like rain? You say, "You have got to be kidding! With my busy schedule?" You may wonder what these things have to do with parenting. I believe content parents, enjoying simple pleasures, help the rhythms of life flow smoother. The old saying goes, "If Mom ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" This applies to Dads too! We set the atmosphere in the home. And atmosphere is important in growing happy, well-adjusted kids!
Life gets hectic. Obligations can become overwhelming. Stress thins our nerves and makes us become parents we do not like. Winning the rat race only makes us the number one rat! Getting to a place where we understand this is an achievable goal!
A few years back, my oldest son, Russ, sent me an email that has been placed among my most treasured possessions. He had taken time, in his hectic, busy schedule, to make a long list of touching memories. He started, "Mom, I don't remember the things I didn't have growing up. This is what I remember:
Going on bicycle rides with you and Dad.
Going with you to the park and smelling the honeysuckles along the way.
Talks we had about what happens to little boys when they die. (His friend had died in a plane crash.)
His email continued with touching memories, some that I had forgotten. My regrets for things left undone and the money we didn't have for extras, vanished with my son's memories of the simple pleasures that took time, not money.
We, sometimes, are caught up in gifts and purchases we want to make for our kids, when God tells us that kids, themselves, are a gift. The time we spend with them is more important than working extra hours to provide 'things' that will become old and need replacing next year. Happy children are those who know they are loved. They know who they are and who they are becoming. Parents who give their children quality time, with lots of laughter and lots of love, never regret that decision. Those years cannot be recalled. My son, Russ passed away a few years back. I will never regret the times I made him feel special.
"Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him."
Antje lives with her husband, Richard, in MS and is a columnist for Parents & Kids Magazine. She loves writing and speaking on marriage and parenting.
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