Here is my latest over at Suscipio for Women: ”The Treasure and Value of Family Storytelling”
HERE is my latest post over at Suscipio, entitled A New Year’s Look at a Mother’s Work. I hope you will pop over and read it. Jenny, who runs Suscipio offers much encouragement for moms. I am sure she would love to have you look around. Consider this your personal invitation to do so- God bless!
I would like to introduce you to my new (second) book with co-author Patti Maguire Armstrong- BIG HEARTED: Inspiring Stories for Everyday Families. Inside the pages of BIG HEARTED, you will find uplifting, faith-filled amazing accounts of REAL families who experience God’s grace in their lives. You will read about strong sibling bonds between a brother and sister almost a generation apart, a woman who discovers what it means to be the most successful woman in the world, a large family who unexpectedly adopts two AIDs orphans and discovers surprises that await them, what it’s like to grow up in a family with 13 children, and how a young teenaged pregnancy helps a young couple make amazing choices that affect their lives forever….
I hope you will laugh. You might even cry. I bet you will relate-
I can hardly wait to share this book with you! It’s not quite ready yet, but the cover is above. Keep posted for details….
Like many parents do, when our children were very young, David and I would read the story of the Nutcracker to our children every year as Christmas drew near. The children loved hearing about the mysterious and magical Uncle Drosselmeyer bestowing a special gift on his goddaughter, Clara, and listening to an account of the magical land and dancing that occurred thereafter. When our children grew old enough, we took them to see a Nutcracker performance. The little girls loved it, dreaming of being big ballerinas on stage, dancing in the Land of Sweets.
The next step of course was to actually sign the girls up for dance class. This we did with much excitement and anticipation. We bought little leotards. Ballet slippers. Tutus just for fun, even though we didn’t need them. They practiced first position. Second, third, fourth, and fifth. They wondered when they would actually start ‘real’ dance combinations. Not soon enough, but soon enough, they did. And then they were off….
The girls, like many young dancers, worked their way through the ranks of class levels- creative movement , pre-ballet, then ballet I, II, III, IV. A highlight, of course, and every little ballerina’s dream, was obtaining pointe shoes and being asked to join the pre-professional company. As soon as the instructor said a girl was ready for pointe, the excited child would beg her mama to go to the Ballet Shop, a good half an hour from the house, right then to get them immediately. Pointe shoe fitting is not a quick task. Often it takes an hour or more to find just the right fit and just the right shoe. But this mama went. Happily. Such joy in watching the joy of her children!
The older girls completed Ballet V, VI and now find themselves in level VII. I daresay it’s been a whirlwind experience…over time. It happened so quickly and yet so slowly for them in their minds. One moment they were little mice, scampering about in the hot bright stage lights. Now, engulfed in pink tulle, they dance expertly, improving year by year. What stays the same is that their mother continues to shed little tears of joy, pride and happiness at watching their grace and beauty…and feeling very grateful that they can be a part of this universal every-girl’s dream experience.
Several years ago, the artistic director, in short supply of men willing to participate and round off the party scene, coaxed my husband (smart woman- she asked in front of his daughters) to dance and play the role of a party parent. She assured him it was mostly acting and little dancing, but in reality there were two dances for him to learn, and they were harder than they looked.
Ballet was so opposite of what David was used to- He was the football, basketball and golf-playing high school turned college scholarship athlete. An accomplished amateur golfer in the state Hall of Fame. He’s competitive. Macho. Not a fine arts guy. Not a- a- a dancer. Or was he?
Four begging daughters can be convincing and David figured he spent time at the studio waiting for them anyway so he, amidst please Daddys of his daughters and the steady requests from the director, he finally acquiesced to join the ranks of dancing dads and was soon going to rehearsals. And then, he danced on stage. David graduated to ‘lead dad’ as ‘Clara’s father’ the following year for his stunning performance as supporting role dad. Just kidding. The other guy dropped out.
David’s coworkers teased him mercilessly, but he took it in good stride. He was a great sport, even when someone bought him a little pink Christmas ornament to hang: “Dance with your heart and a ballerina you will be”. David, my dancing lawyer, jokingly retorted to the fellow that dancing was surely a lot more fun than working in accounting. Touche.
When the girls were asked to perform in local venues the summer before the Nutcrackers, David would playfully ask, “Don’t they want the party dad to do his dance too?” and he’d break into his steps, jokingly. He grew a beard one year to look more convincing and Victorian age. He was having fun.
I loved it.
His daughters loved it too. They swirled around him as he learned his Dad part- something that changed slightly each year, and something that came surprisingly natural to him as a coordinated athlete. The girls teased their daddy with a quote they had seen: “If football were any harder it would be called….ballet.” High school football playing sons argued the counterpoint. The surprise twist is that Daddy divulged he had taken ballet in high school with members of the football team. It seems the coach required it, believing it improved timing, coordination and team cohesion. …don’t you just love life’s funny little twists and coincidences?
I loved seeing our daughters on stage with their father. I bought a ticket to every performance. I wiped tears from eyes as a real life father danced with “Clara’ one year who was his real life daughter. I laughed as he enlivened the performance by bringing his silly original antics to the stage and felt grateful when he combed the crowd with his eyes to try to find me and slyly gesture and wink.
After last year’s Nutcracker, there was a surprise twist to this dancing plot.
David asked me to join him.
That’s right. After years of chaperoning, dropping girls off to and picking them up from rehearsal, after behind-the-scenes bun-making and makeup applying and leotard mending and clapping and cheering, my husband suggested I relax, audition, and dance with him.
The thought had never occurred to me.
I said ‘yes’.
The director approved. I sighed relief. I secretly hoped I would be good enough. I feared I wouldn’t. I went to the Ballet Shop and bought ballet shoes, for me. I got a ballet bag. I got my own leotard. I got my own makeup. I got excited.
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul”
Dance rehearsals were like weekly then twice a week, then finally nightly date nights. We practiced in our family room sometimes, with the furniture pulled back. Our college kids came home and found us doing this one evening, shook their heads, smiling and left the room. What has gotten into our parents? I’m sure they were thinking.
At rehearsal, David held my hand. He coached me. He whispered funny things into my ears when he twirled me. I laughed. I think our performance as husband and wife was believable because, well, we are husband and wife. Dancing with my husband on stage was a blessing. We grew closer to each other. We grew closer to our daughters. I met some wonderful ‘party parents’ whom I otherwise would not have known. I learned makeup tips in the dressing room. I expanded my horizons and got out of my comfort zone. I had a blast.
Party scene ladies
Sadly, and tragically in yet another twist, my father-in-law died an hour before the first out of town Nutcracker performance. That day was so difficult. We loved him so much. It was confusing trying to figure out how to proceed in grief as my husband went from his father’s deathbed to the performance. Should we quit? Continue? No one but my husband at this late date knew his lead father part. Pulling four girls from the performance would mess up the dances for the other girls. And would pulling the girls from the performance really benefit them? No, we would proceed on stage.
And we did.
Nutcracker helped us get through this difficult time. The men in the performance literally surrounded my husband back stage upon hearing the news of his father’s death They spontaneously encircled him and prayed with and for him in the dressing room. Dancers as young as teens and as old as well into mid-life, hugged him and gave words of encouragement, proving that friendships with others of all ages can be built in short amounts of time, and there is no limit to human kindness and encouragement and strength during times of sorrow and suffering.
David had spent that morning with his dying father, and the afternoon planning his funeral in between two performances. I am amazed at how this all unfolded. Today, I look at my husband with new eyes of admiration and respect, as he fulfilled two obligations- one of grief and one of joy, simultaneously.
Yes, joy was mixed with sadness these Nutcracker performances of 2012. A beloved patriarch passed from this world. He was 88 and there was satisfaction in knowing he had a full and happy life and was surrounded by all five of his children as he went to the next world. Yet naturally we were grieved that his time on earth was finished. Our children also felt this conflicting stress. At a dress rehearsal before the final weekend of performances, just several days after my father-in-law’s death our 15 year old daughter, exhausted and grieved by the news of her grandfather, fell in the last number and injured her foot. She could not dance on pointe and did not dance in the last four performances. It was another huge disappointment. However, the blessing in that (we are always looking for blessings) is that she was able to take photographs of her sisters and encourage her fellow dancers. She commiserated with another injured dancer backstage and their friendship bond grew because of this. Through this experience, our girls were surrounded with their ballet friends, and while there were many tears shed, there was also a new determination to perform for ‘Gido’ (Grandpa) in honor of him.
Angela, our Angel
Our graceful Grace, rehearsing
Our daughters (Rachel far left and Grace fourth from left) with their very special ballet friends, who supported them during this difficult Nutcracker season. Cousin Bonita on the far right.
Nutcracker has brought us together as a family in many ways, from the very first Nutcracker the girls performed in to the Nutcracker their father joined them in, to this year as both David and I performed together with our girls while tragedy struck. Being together that difficult day and the days following kept us close and helped us cope. It reminded us that no matter what, we are family. And whether it is a dance on stage or the dance of life, we are there and will be there for one another, always. There is strength in our togetherness, in good and bad. In joy and in sorrow, shall we dance? Yes! Because this is life. And we are family.
After one of the performances, with three of our daughters
Visiting ‘Gido’ (‘Grandpa’ in Lebanese) just a short time before he fell ill.
Family is what matters
(Photo credit: Diane Freeby Click her name for recent article on this)
Ann Manion (President Women’s Care Center), Dr. Janet Smith (founder) and Jeanne Thelen (an original counselor)
The establishment of the pro-life Women’s Care Center in South Bend, IN may at first glance seem like a simple, spontaneous response to a local abortion clinic. And indeed perhaps it was. However, like a small seed can grow into a large tree, the organization’s growth was huge, its evolution into multiple centers has proven to be providential, and its success across state lines has exceeded all expectations.
More than twenty five years ago, Janet Smith, then a professor at the University of Notre Dame, used to pray in front of the South Bend, IN abortion clinic in her spare time. She had a nagging thought, that ‘someone’ should open an alternative center, which would offer pro-life counseling for women who found themselves in crisis pregnancies. Eventually, she realized that she was the ‘someone’ and with donors’ help for financing, a little blue house, the new Women’s Care Center with life-affirming options, opened in April, 1984.
Shortly thereafter Ann Manion, a University of Notre Dame graduate, certified public accountant, and senior audit manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers, joined the board of directors at the Women’s Care Center. When Smith left Notre Dame for another teaching position she asked Manion to step in as chairman of the board. In due course Manion assumed the role of president/executive director. Under Manion’s leadership, the Women’s Care Center has grown from one to seventeen centers throughout northern Indiana, as well as Niles, Michigan and Columbus, Ohio, and Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
It’s been an unbelievable success. In St. Joseph County, IN, the venue of the first Women’s Care Center, the abortion rate has dropped 37% over the last ten years. In Marshall County, the venue of another WCC, the abortion rate has dropped by 30%, and in Elkhart County, by an astonishing 44% since the inception of its Center.
In 2008, the Center served 10,700 women who made more than 56,000 client visits to the centers. Center services include pregnancy and one-on-one goal counseling, parenting skills education classes, which are taught both in English and Spanish, and the Crib Club Incentive program, which provides cribs, car seats and other infant necessities to young mothers in need who meet certain criteria– attending parenting classes, for example. A conservative estimate of the number of diapers given away each year is 350,000.
Manion recalls joining the board simply because she was attracted to the mission. “I was young, newly married, professionally employed, and looking for something meaningful to do in my spare time,” she said.
In 1988 she decided to stay at home with her first baby, and this also enabled her to spend more time at the center. “(Working at) the (Women’s) Care Center provided a way for me to use my business skills to a very good end, and because I was a volunteer I …had the flexibility to be…with my children most of the time.”
Working 20 to 40 hours a week and never drawing a paycheck for her Care Center work, Manion didn’t anticipate the eventual scope and impact of her “hobby”.
“I think this (success) is because God had the plan and not us. We simply said “yes” to new opportunities as they came along, “she said. “And we are supported by some very generous individuals and families who truly become our partners in the mission. Without these (primarily Catholic) supporters, we would never be able to say ‘yes’ to so many new opportunities.”
As president, Manion oversees new initiatives and projects. She writes proposals, fundraising letters and newsletters, and she assists with the development effort. Manion also uses her accounting background to make sure there is enough money for payroll and bills, and she performs bookkeeping, as well as acknowledges donor gifts. Finally, she provides a sounding board for issues that come up from the counseling directors. The Center employs a full-time foundation director, Bobby Williams, whom Ann calls, drawing upon her accounting background, “an amazing asset”.
The Women’s Care Center has several unique features which distinguishes it from other pregnancy help centers and models. First, while the Center has explicitly Catholic roots it welcomes all clients regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof, and its workers strive to be loving and non-judgmental in approach.
“Nearly all of the centers I have encountered over the years are evangelical,” said Manion, “Also, our founder, Janet Smith, had the foresight to realize that women in crisis don’t want a sermon or a lecture but just someone to love them unconditionally. Many of the women we serve have never experienced this unconditional love and support before. This can be such a turning point for them…and is the reason why so many young women choose life.”
Another distinguishing feature of the Center is that it employs paid counselors. According to Manion, having paid professionals allows longer hours of operation and consistent follow-up with clients. “Paid professionals make it possible for us to be open full-time and not just when volunteers are available,” she said.
The final difference between the Women’s Care Center and many other pregnancy help centers across the country, according to Manion, is that proportionally the Women’s Care Center spends more of its budget on strategic facilities and signage than advertising. “We have found that centers which do best are those that are strategically located (near abortion clinics if possible), on busy streets and are highly visible and accessible. We also like bright, prominent, pretty landscaping and a homey environment. We do not seem to need a large advertising budget as the facilities themselves (and word of mouth) become a magnet for the women in need.”
The pleasant and welcoming appearance of one Care Center is something that Jessica H. knows about first-hand. She was a 19 year old student when she faced a crisis pregnancy and had plans to get an abortion.
“All my friends were telling me to get an abortion. I just wanted to stop by (WCC) and get another opinion,” she said. Jessica admits she was “scared to death” the day she visited a Fort Wayne, IN Women’s Care Center. “I was shaking. I was nervous. I was telling myself, ‘I don’t know why I’m doing this’,” she recalled.
She had been to the abortion clinic the day before, put $200 down for an abortion, and was treated rudely. Her fears melted, however, as she entered the Women’s Care Center.
“The (Women’s Care Center) building is cozy and nice. There were flowers, comfortable sofas, and nice décor. It just made me feel comfortable,” Jessica said. “They welcomed me in, were real friendly, “she continued, “They were the complete opposite of the abortion clinic (workers).”
The Care Center workers offered Jessica an ultrasound, which was ultimately what changed her mind about getting an abortion.
“They showed me there was a life in (me) when I thought there wasn’t,” she said, “They never once told me not to do it….They just shared their opinion…That’s what I needed. Someone positive to tell me it was going to be okay. “
Jessica stated she didn’t feel judged at all by Care Center personnel.
“The lady I worked with was in the same situation (that I was in) when she was 17, like 20 years ago, so she understood. I felt, for once, comfortable talking about this to someone.”
Jessica was touched by one particular generosity: Care Center workers were able to secure donations to replace the $200 she had put down on the abortion she never had.
Fr. Kevin Russeau, C.S.C. first volunteered at the Women’s Care Center when he was a seminarian in 1997. “I loved this work,” he said. He answered phones to direct women to the centers and did ‘intakes’, special questionnaires designed to identify what services a woman needs. Later he participated in outreach to the schools, doing abstinence training. He helped with a phone-a-thon and in opening the Elkhart, IN center. Today, Fr. Kevin still assists when needed. He recently led a prayerful gathering for counselors and works with post-abortive mothers who seek spiritual healing
Fr. Kevin believes that the most important aspect of the Women’s Care Center ministry is the way it treats each person with radical dignity. “(It) cares for (the women’s) health. We help them financially, and we educate them.” He continued, “It’s not enough to convince people that abortion is wrong. We must also help them through the process of choosing life and raising the child. The Women’s Care Center does this, and makes every effort to follow up with the women they see. “
In fact, Jessica and her son Mason still visit the Care Center frequently. After Mason’s birth, Jessica wanted to meet other young mom friends and the WCC workers helped her connect with other young moms. They also helped her make her bill payments, through donations from friends of the Center. Mostly Jessica visits now, however, because she views some of the workers simply as good friends.
Manion, who was named an Outstanding Notre Dame Alumnus in 2007 for her Care Center work, isn’t surprised by the multiple blessings that stem from this special pro-life work. She states that being involved with the Care Center has brought numerous blessings to her own family.
“It has deepened my faith, and that of my children,” she said, “They are all strongly pro-life, pro-abstinence and faith-filled. In fact, my college daughter Mary (who first started visiting the center as a baby with her mom) is training as a counselor on a volunteer basis.”
The future for the Women’s Care Centers is indeed very bright; however Manion states that it is no longer feasible simply to continue to add centers in new communities. “Both from a structural and funding standpoint,” she said, “(adding centers) would be unworkable. We are however, looking at a franchising model, whereby we can help start enters that will be managed and sustained by the local community. Over the next five years we hope to write a book, create a training manual, offer free training programs and provide start-up funds for (new) centers. If the funds present themselves, we will do it. “
Below are photographs of various cozyWomen’s Care Center outreach centers- in Columbus, OH, Mishawaka, IN, and Niles, MI, all from WCC websites.
(This article originally written 2/2010)
I came across this yesterday and wanted to share it with you~
It is a beautiful, FREE, Catholic -home/school/liturgical year- planner download-
This Catholic mother offers her beautiful planner FREE and asks simply that the link be provided – that others download from her site directly- and if visitors are so inclined (no requirement) to make a donation, to do so for the orphans in Bulgaria where she adopted her children. You can also purchase a hard copy if you prefer, for $21.95.
Yesterday after Mass, a woman I had never seen before came up to me and said, “I just have to tell you something.”
I glanced at five of my beautiful daughters who had accompanied my husband and me to church. Would this woman tell me my family was lovely? Was she going to compliment them on their angelic singing voices? I primed myself for a praise for the girls and decided I would be gracious.
But the woman did not offer any such kudos. Instead, she merely said, looking at their long hair, “I bet you go through a lot of shampoo.”
Then I laughed. Thank you, God, for keeping me humble, and yes, we do go through a lot of shampoo. And as a matter of fact, we go through a lot of Draino because the shower drains are constantly getting clogged.
Oh, our Lord has a way of keeping our hearts in the right places, doesn’t He?
I was sitting on the wooden backyard swing the other evening, watching the sun slowly go down. My 21 year old daughter, home from college for the summer, slipped beside me.
“Hey! I didn’t see you.” I happily scooted over to make room for her on the slats. We sat closely together and quietly enjoyed the scenery and talked. As the temperature dipped I noticed she seemed chilly so I took off the scarf from my shoulders and wrapped it around her. Before even a few minutes had passed she seemed bothered.
“Mom, did you change your perfume? Is this Chanel?”
She sniffed the scarf and then me.
“This is my alternate scent,” I told her, “I haven’t switched. I just like to alternate occasionally.
“But it doesn’t smell like you,” she countered, “I hate to sound like a baby but where’s my mama?”
And took off the scarf and gave it back to me.
Scents are powerful memory finders. We can be walking through the grocery store, minding our own business and simply looking for organic plums and dessert for dinner when we catch a whiff of an older woman’s perfume and immediately are transported back to kindergarten, with vivid recollections about the desk we sat in, the day itself and the feelings we had. We can sniff one little sniff of food on the street, wafting from a restaurant, be reminded of a place we have left, either in time or space, and immediately become homesick. Soldiers returning from active duty can be comforted immensely simply by putting a familiar, home-cooked meal in front of them. Remembrance of smells and their related memories can even go back to infancy and perhaps even in the womb.
Which leads me to this-
What scents will your child remember? And what memories will those scents trigger? I believe that by deliberating making scent choices for our children, we can help create happier childhoods, enriched with powerful soothing smells, and help our children relax both now and in the future in this increasingly stressful culture and society. Read below for some scent suggestions to add to your child’s life on a regular basis if you have not already done so-
-Ethnic food aromas from home-cooked meals passed down from generation to generation. Call your mother, mother-in-law, or if you are so fortunate, your grandmother or grandmother-in-law, to begin to do the happy task of retrieving a family heirloom recipe if you have not done so already. Then, get cooking. Even making an heirloom meal just once a week (Sunday dinner?) can have powerful effects on a child’s future memory. These scents, when accompanied by mirthful family times and conversation, and maybe followed by an enjoyable family activity such as backyard baseball or frisbee, can help form happy memories on which the child will rely and which the child will enjoy long after he becomes an adult and has a family of his own. Doing this, you are also passing down a unique family tradition, which helps the child feel secure in his roots and an established place in the world.
-The smell of morning when the dew is fresh on the ground and birds burst forth with their happy chirps, announcing the beauty of another day. Pop your little ones in the stroller- who cares if they are still in their pajamas or that your hair is not perfectly brushed and styled yet? Take an early morning walk around the neighborhood and imprint this beautiful scent memory in their minds! Maybe they will grow up to love healthy runs on early mornings because of this early memory. Perhaps they will be more motivated to grow up to wake up early and get moving because that time of morning brought pleasure in their childhood. Even if those things don’t happen, I guarantee that their early morning walks will be imprinted on their minds for a lifetime and something they go back to, even if just in their minds, to refresh and relax.
-The clean, fresh scent of newly laundered clothes, especially cotton sheets and towels. When you take these items from the dryer or the clothes line, toss them playfully on your children and let them romp in their clean sweetness. Have a clean washcloth fight. The scents and sounds of this will forge a permanent place in their little brains, endearing clean laundry to them permanently. It’s worth a shot to try to do this for their later lives, for order and neatness and all that, but never mind that now, it’s simply comforting and fun.
-Select a gentle scent that is distinctly your own and wear it daily. Your children will remember that and associate the aroma with you for the rest of their lives. This will soothe them, even as they grow up. It took me years to find a scent that I liked that was understated and appealing to me. Generally, perfumes give me a headache, but the one I selected I really enjoy in small quantities, and clearly my children recognize that as “mine”. If you don’t like perfume, try a powder and layer the scents on the evenings you do get to sneak away on a date with your husband. Pulse points are good places to apply the perfume- the wrists, neck, the backs of the knees, the crooks of the arm, opposite the elbow. Be understated in application. Remember, you just want them to get a wisp of a whiff.
-The smell of freshly cut grass. Have those kids follow dad with their own child-sized kid mower as he mows or help you around the yard as he does so. (Be safe, of course, and never let little children too close to a lawn mower with blades moving.) The smell of freshly cut grass is a universal scent associated with childhood, and people report feeling happier and relaxed after mowing their lawns. Researchers have even discovered that a chemical released by a mown lawn makes people feel happy and relaxed, and could prevent mental decline in old age.
-The smell of the ocean. If you live near the ocean, take advantage of it! The soothing sounds of the waves are an added plus to the soothing scent of the salty air. You don’t have to swim to enjoy the benefits of God’s biggest bodies of water. Stop by for a picnic or just to daydream with your child. Let him collect shells or wiggle his toes in the sand. The multi-sensory experience will stay with him. If you do not live near the ocean, try to plan at least one vacation there during your child’s first 12 years. Many people never forget their first time seeing and smelling the sea.
-Chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven Who doesn’t have a happy memory associated with baking? Whether it is with grandma or mom, baking is an intimate way for a child to bond with an adult. Make the most of this scent building memory by taking the time to bake from scratch. Let your child carefully measure out the ingredients, mix the dough, add (and taste!) the chocolate chips. The warm, homey smell emanating from the oven while the cookies bake will become locked in your child’s mind. The happy memories made will be associated by smell with you, forever in the child’s mind.
-The smell of lavender . Research shows that most people find the smell of lavender especially relaxing, and that it also helps them get a good night’s sleep. Even a novice seamstress can hand sew tiny little pillows filled with dried lavender to put in a sock drawer, a ballet or soccer bag or reading corner. Other places to stash lavender scented pillows are your car or van, a musty closet, in a wicker basket in your child’s most used bathroom. Studies show that lavender has soothing, short-term sedative effects. Other essential oils scents that have aroma-therapeutic properties include chamomile and rose, which have been shown to relieve pain, as have diluted oils of peppermint, eucalyptus and lemongrass. To get the full effect, be sure to use true essential oils, which are 100% pure.
Studies have shown that certain scents can definitely measurably relax a person. Studies have shown that memory is distinctly associated with smell. When we bring together pleasant memories with pleasant aromas, we bind the two together and enable our children to be reminded of enjoyable experiences on which they can draw comfort the rest of their lives. We set down the groundwork for helping them deal with stressful situations in the future when we provide these sense-oriented experiences now.
Don’t get all stressed out worrying about creating the scents for your children- most of these will occur naturally throughout your mother day as you go about naturally nurturing your little ones- the whiff of your peppermint gum, the scent of the outside after a rain… Being cognizant of the smells, however, can help you create a more pleasant childhood for your kids and take advantage of what nature and God offers.
Get baking. Get walking. Get cooking. Go to the ocean. Sew lavender pillows. Enjoy God’s gift of smell and help your children learn to find comfort in them too.
Which reminds me- I’m putting away my new perfume until my daughter goes back to school, which is in just a week or so. Her noticing my special perfume comforts me in this way- In order for her to have noticed my perfume, we would have had to be (quite literally) close for a long time. Her memories of my faint perfume stem from sharing the sofa for many years, snuggling as we read books and shared thoughts and dreams, of nights holding her little hand next to her bed, of rocking her as a baby. It is comforting to me as well to know that through these sensory experiences, I have become an integral part of her mind and memory and heart.
Try deliberately making scent memories with your own children. When they grow up and move out, you will spontaneously be in their thoughts when they smell a certain smell, and you can know that you helped create for them, a relaxed and soothing future.
Basics of scent and memory here.
Read more about soothing scents here.
Relevant bible quote:
“… live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God…”