I was having a discussion with my friend Erin the other day. She's pregnant with her second child (they'll be 18 months apart) and she was commenting on how much bigger she looked this time around. She said her doctor told her that just like "muscle memory" her body has "pregnancy memory". Since the muscles have already been stretched they quickly and easily expand for baby number 2.
Of course this is funny because when we're pregnant with our first child we can't wait to wear maternity clothes...to announce to the world "I'm pregnant". We buy maternity clothes before we need them and by the end of the pregnancy we never want to see them again...only to realize we may still need them for a few months until we shed some of the baby weight. I was never one of those fortunate women who gave birth and then walked out of the hospital in her old jeans. Actually, I secretly resent those women.
This whole discussion made me think about my mission to get back in touch with nature and bring my children along for the ride. When I close my eyes and relive my favorite memories from my childhood I'm immediately transported to the forests of Colorado. I can still smell the evergreens, hear the rushing water and feel the cool mountain breeze. I grew up in Kansas so Colorado was a natural choice for family vacations. My parents were both huge outdoor enthusiasts so they naturally exposed me and my siblings to things they were most passionate about.
My father spent hours teaching us how to fish (patiently untangling our lines) while my mother took us for walks to admire the wildflowers and photograph mushrooms and waterfalls. At night we'd sit around the campfire making s'mores and burning the end of a stick till it was bright red. I've always loved campfires. They're beautiful, warm, dangerous yet charming. Oh yeah...Dad also taught us how to whittle.
I could go on forever about all the fantastic memories I have but I'll spare you. My point is this: if our memories of our own childhood are still so powerful today then as parents we need to realize that everything we're doing with our children right now will be ingrained in their memories for years to come. We have the power to shape those memories and influence the rest of their lives. We are their parents, their mentors, their teachers. It's our job to provide playful activities and everyday adventures that help stimulate their imagination. As a result, these adventures will develop our children physically, emotionally, spiritually, creatively and intellectually. This is an incredible responsibility yes...but it'll be the most fulfilling thing you ever do. Now get out there and start making some memories by having fun with your kids today!