Monday, September 5, 2011

Evening Walks

Many, MANY years ago (I am talking in the 80s people), my family took our annual trip to  my dad's family farm. A few things were abundant at the farm: manure, Fat Boys ice cream sandwiches, homemade bread, bread and milk with cheese, marbles, treasures, and copies of the Reader's Digest.

I could write a whole post about the memories of visiting the farm that are now flooding my memory just writing that list. But for all your sake I will stick to my current story. It all comes back to an article I read in a copy of Reader's Digest on a visit to the farm when I was just a little girl.

I remember the article well, even all these 25 or so years later. It was written by a single mom who had to work all day and then come home and take care of her kids. She wrote about how difficult this was. She explained how exhausted she would be at the end of the day and how guilty she felt that her kids got so little of her "awake and happy" time.

She told about one night in particular when she came home from work and got her kids together. She was spent that night, just like most nights. She made the kids some spaghetti for dinner and went to bed leaving them alone to finish it and put themselves to bed. After she went to her room and laid down she heard a commotion coming from the kitchen/dining area. It got bad enough that she couldn't sleep for the noise so she got up to go lay down the law with her kids. (I know we have all been there.)

As she walked into the dining area she saw spaghetti ... everywhere. The kids had gotten into a huge food fight. She was on the verge. Sanity slipping through her fingers. Anger seething fueled by fatigue. Tears were brimming.

What she did next changed her family. She didn't say a word. She walked over to her two kids. She grabbed each one by the hand. They put shoes on and together they walked out the door. They walked and walked for what seemed like hours. Eventually her fatigue lifted and so did her spirits.

She found herself able to laugh about the food fight and with enough energy to help the kids clean it up. She said that from that night on she and her kids began walking together. As her kids grew and she got remarried, she told how sometimes who went on the walks varied. If one kids was having a rough day she would walk with them alone and it would give them a good amount of time to talk. When both kids were busy with school stuff she would walk with her husband.

This story had a real impression on me. I have remembered it all these years and wanted to adopt that practice into my own life. But you know how life and babies seem to get in the way of our plans...

Until now... this weekend I decided to make Sabrina my new walking partner. At ten years old she is changing in new ways and needing a bit more of my time and attention. I really want to keep a close relationship through these tween and teen years. I am thinking walking will be just the thing to help me do this.

As we walk I have shared stories with her, asked her questions about her life, and we discuss books. I like to read the books she reads so I can know what she is reading and I just like most of those books too. Tonight I was impressed with some of the questions she was asking me like who my favorite character was in a certain book and why I liked that character.

I can imagine a day where I will be walking regularly with all my girls and doing some alone walks on hard days just like the woman from that article. I don't remember the name of the woman who wrote that article, but I think I owe her a thank you for sharing. And I hope that somehow something I write can help someone else similarly.

8 comments:

Emily in Wonderland said...

I think you just did.

Brad, Rebecca, Jacob said...

That is a very good story. I hope your children appreciate what you do for them. We all are just doing our best, so thank you for the idea of another way to do that 'best'. Enjoy your walks :)

Anonymous said...

Stephanie:

I have been following your blog for some time now and I just wanted to tell you that you have
been a real encouragement to me.

I have two girls who are 13 and 15 and my husband and I have had a tough three years being self employed and trying to hang on financially. This is something new for us as we have always been able to pay our bills and have been financially secure. I have learned to trust God in a new way and not get to far ahead of today. I have dealt with the loss of my 37 year old brother and my 47 year old sister -in- law that left large holes in our family but cannot imagine the loss of a child. My heart hurts for you and I think about you often. I never knew Camille but I won't ever forget her. I wanted you to know that your sweet girl is thought about and remembered. Thank you for offering inspiration everyday. It's just what I need in the morning when I know I have a lot to deal with. You have helped me realize how lucky I am. I have great kids who I thoroughly enjoy and who actually like me too. I've learned through their friends that can be a rare thing.

Just wanted to tell you that your a Great mom and you prove everyday that we can all do hard things.

Ailene

Cheryl said...

love this idea! I have been taking my kids one on one when I run a few errands...but I think walking is better because I wouldn't be distracted with the errands!

bows and more said...

Hi Stephanie! I have followed your blog for 3 years now. Ever since you lost your sweet Camille. I commented at first but have just been a lerker for most of the time. I just moved to Henderson a month ago. Anyway the first day of school I was walking my boys to their classes and I saw your husband in the hall. I thought "I know him... How do I know him?" He did not seem to reconize me and so it seemed strange that I knew I knew him from somewhere! Then it hit me! That is Stephanies husband Jon! Crazy huh! I felt kinda funny thinking I know a lot about him and his family and I am a complete stranger! I felt kinda like a stalker lol! Well I just thought I would tell you that little story. So I guess I live by you now :) I love your blog and find much inspiration from you! Thanks for sharing your life with the world! P.S. I would love to meet you sometime and come to your So you think you can dance parties :)
Take care, Kelsi

Heather Johnson said...

What a wonderful idea. I have been doing this with our son the last 6 months, for the exact same reason. He is 9 and things are changing.
Thank you for being such an inspiration to mothers and fathers and families. Tears are always shed when I read the Daily Scoop.
p.s. Thanks for your comment on Family Volley. It means more than words.

Robyn said...

On the note of you being the kind of parent I dream about being.... how on EARTH do you get your kids to clean their rooms. I warn my kids 2 days in advance that "Wednesday we are cleaning rooms." I offer incentives, but still it seems like there are more tears shed and more yelling on room cleaning day than every other day of the month combined! I've tried rewards, punishments, tried to make it a game. NOTHING works. I'm tired. Any hints?

Jonathan Waite said...

Robyn,
I can tell you Stephanie has made a game of it. There's something effective with kids by making the chore either a game or something to be accomplished. For example, she picks out one thing in the family room (without telling them) and then has them pick up ten things and whoever picks up the thing she was thinking about wins. that's one of the games. Maybe she can blog about our "cleaning" games.