Sunday, August 23, 2015


Its easy for parents to feel like, in order to spend quality time with their kids, they've got to be forever planning "meaningful" activities, educational trips, and Pinterest crafts.

My older sister posted on Facebook this morning about turning down an extension on the fire call she was out on (she's a wildland firefighter), because no one in her house cared if they got new carpets or cabinets, but they did care if she was there to take them to their first day of school, read their new books, and ask them about their day.  She remembered that after reading a remark from President Uchtdorf that "in family life, love is really spelled t-i-m-e."

It sparked a memory.  Not a specific memory, really, but a bundle of "boring" memories.  I remember many evenings spent sitting in my parents' living room as a high schooler, my mom on one couch and me on the other.  She graded papers and I worked on calculus homework while we watched TV, laughing together and occasionally chatting.  My sister moved back in that year to be close to the school where she was doing her student teaching, and she joined us.  I don't remember any particular conversations or any specific evenings.  I just remember we were all there, doing our respective chores in each other's presence, enjoying the same shows and conversing when we felt inclined.  I was always aware that I wasn't alone, that there were people around me that cared about where I was and who enjoyed my company.  That was all it took.

I've quoted Pete Doctor before, but its one of my favorites.  In "Up", little Russell is talking about his dad and some of the things they did together, and sums up happy family life in one brief sentence: "Sometimes its the boring stuff I remember most".  I remember the trips we took together (my parents  were really great about getting us out and about despite raising a large family on a tight budget), and I remember some of the more "interesting" activities we did.  But they don't stick out.  What made me feel loved, what shaped me as a person, were hundreds of little, simple things:  playing with construction paper and paper cutters and watching Nick at Nite on the school TV while mom did classroom chores; sitting around a backyard fire cooking hotdogs and s'mores;  countless family dinners chatting and laughing around the table; swimming at the dam after chores were done; evening walks along the canal bank; having root beer floats in the summer and hot cocoa in the winter while we chatted and laughed.  None of that took a lot of money or logistics, but it did require time, and my parents did everything they could to meet the demands of paying the bills while still maximizing the time they were home with us--both of them.  Its probably why I still feel happiest when sitting around the table with mugs full of hot cocoa or walking through the woods:  though I didn't consciously realize it at the time, that's where I felt loved, where I came to value family and friendship.  My parents didn't tell me to prioritize family, they showed me how.  I am striving to balance the demands on our time so that I can do the same for my kiddos.

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