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.