My son, now officially 8-years-old, has had opportunity for many fun, new experiences this summer… sleepovers, his first week at camp, his 8th birthday – which for some reason we seem to be celebrating for weeks! Meanwhile, his little sister has been there, sometimes quite content with her summer schedule, but at other times VERY envious of her brother’s ongoing escapades!
When we dropped our son off at church camp for his week away, it was our daughter who was the most distraught! The moment he started to walk away, she burst into tears. “I’m going to miss brother! I don’t want him to leave!” In reality, she cherished her time with just mom and dad. Plus, our focus on her alone helped us to appreciate what an intelligent, compassionate, faith-filled little girl she is becoming! With that, I have two short stories I’d like to share about my 4-year-old…
We had a rare Sunday at home recently when we each worked quietly, independent of one another. My son was in his room, my daughter reading books in the living room, my husband in the kitchen, and I was hauling laundry. Music was playing, just loud enough for all to hear from our different corners of the house. A song came on – a lullaby version of Jesus Loves Me. When I tuck my daughter into bed, I will often lean in close and quietly sing this version of the song. I am near the living room when the song begins. Though captivated by her book, my daughter drops what she is doing, gets up, and in an almost trance-like state moves towards me for a big hug! She has associated that song with my comforting presence! It was a lovely, unexpected moment of affection for my daughter and I.
On a separate occasion, I was driving with my two kids to a nearby lake for some early morning kayaking. It was a beautiful morning – clear blue sky, bright green trees. As I gazed out the window, I commented to my kids how pretty it was – what a great morning for us to be outside! Right away, my daughter replies: “Yes. And God made it all!” How wonderful! She’s heard my husband and I say these words, and the sentiment stuck – appreciation for the beauty of nature, and acknowledgement of the Creator!
As I considered these two seemingly unrelated events, I realized that in both stories it was an experience of the senses – the sound of a particular song, and the sight of a particular landscape – which led to an emotional response and a deeper connection between my daughter and myself!
Memories are often triggered through our sense of smell, a sound, or touch. For me, the strongest of these sensory memories are those experienced with another person with whom I have a close connection. How delightful that we have been gifted with our senses – sound, sight, smell, touch, taste. They intensify our experiences and enhance our human relationships!
Too often I’ll catch myself looking forward to the next event, eager for the next stage in life where somehow the worries of today will no longer exist. (That is NOT how it works, by the way – the worries of today are always replaced by new things for us to worry about!) When I get stuck thinking “I can’t wait for…” – especially when it relates to my kids – I need to just stop!! Take a breath in, listen to the sounds around me, look up and visually soak in my surroundings, touch the hand of the person next to me.
Life is short – build better memories! Activate the senses, truly experience each moment, and strengthen connections to the people we love!