Monday, October 26, 2009

Favorite Things

I was so glad my daughters wanted to join me on my weekend trip to Tennessee for a ladies day at the Henderson Church of Christ. Some of the teenagers provided childcare during the event, and one of the ladies of the congregation offered to take the girls downstairs before we began. When Kira returned, she told me about a sweet conversation she shared with 5-year-old Mary Ashley.

"Do you like going to ladies days with your mommy?" Kira asked as they descended the stairs.

"I like doing everything with my mommy!" came Mary Ashley's enthusiastic reply. "I like to sleep with her. I like to go to ladies days with her. I like to be with her all the time!"

I was so touched to hear what my sweet girl said when I wasn't nearby, and I thanked her later that day for her kind words. What she said next surprised me, and her words have stuck with me since we returned home.

"Mommy," Mary Ashley began, "do you know what my very favorite thing in the whole, whole wide world is?"

Intrigued by her question, I considered the possibilities briefly before realizing I honestly didn't know. "No, Sweetheart, what would that be?"

"Playing the girl games and having story time with you," she revealed.

A swirl of emotions filled my heart when I heard this. First of all, I was honored to learn that many of Mary Ashley's happiest moments are spent in my company. And I was immediately struck by the simplicity of her expectations. Her greatest joys do not require elaborate planning or great sacrifices on my part; in fact, snuggling up to read Fancy Nancy or pausing to play The Princess Match Game actually allows me to slow down and relax too.

But realizing how much she treasures our quiet moments together, I felt humbled knowing how often I allow the demands of school, housekeeping and extra-curricular activities to crowd out simple family rituals. Too often I tuck the children into bed -- wondering how the evening got away from us again -- turning down requests to read a story or play a game as I turn down their covers, offering weakly, "I'm sorry that it has gotten so late tonight, but I hope tomorrow we will have time."

But now that I know how easily I can incorporate Mary Ashley's favorite things into our day, I feel a serious shift in priorities and planning taking place.

Still pondering Mary Ashley's confession to me, I asked my other children last night what makes them feel most joyful.

Three-year-old Emma called out, "Swimming in our pool!"

Seven-year-old Christian said, "Hearing something funny that makes me laugh."

And 10-year-old Carson said, "Being successful at something really difficult, like making a good grade on a test that was really hard or playing basketball and making a basket just before the buzzer sounds."

Immediately my wheels started turning, and I'm already looking forward to sitting poolside next summer, reading a funny book to Christian and Mary Ashley while I watch Emma swim, calling out challenges to Carson as he attempts perilous feats off the diving board.

In all sincerity, I am so thankful for my conversation with Mary Ashley because she reminded me that the greatest joys are often found in life's littlest moments. And I'm hoping that in being a student of what makes my loved ones happiest, I can give them love gifts each day tailored to fit their unique needs and tastes. And in sharing these special moments with my children, I hope to show them every day that my favorite thing in the whole, whole wide world is spending time with them.

"The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family." -- Thomas Jefferson


(I am linking this post to Tuesdays Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky. Click here to discover more gifts of everyday joy.)

116 comments:

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

The happiest blog and the cutest pictures.....love stopping here...

Jelirob said...

HI Melissa,
This is such a sweet post... We had a gratitude week at our house last week, which means that everynight before we say our prayers, we have to say what we are thankful for that happened that day... it was so wonderful to hear the little things that my 2 year old daughter is grateful for everyday... and ... when asked the question "what makes you happy", she replied... "when daddy picks me up from school"...
It really doesn't take much to fill their happy little hearts with joy!

Beki BR said...

Melissa, I wanted you to know I was "inspired" by your children's playhouse ! I drew up plans for an 8 x 10 ft. playhouse to be built out by our pool for our grandchildren. It is almost completed and I will send photos for you to see when it is completed ! I have been so excited about decorating it... can't wait to have our "grand opening" ! Thank you for the inspiration !
Beki

Mrs. G said...

So sweet! I totally agree with your quote from Thomas Jefferson, although I probably get a lot more time with my family that Jefferson did.

Jan's Blog said...

I live for moments like this. You are so blessed!!!

julie said...

how sweet! i love moments like this! thanks for the reminder of stopping and taking time for my cuties!

sweeter and the bubbas said...

I truly believe Mary is your mini-me. She has you sweet spirit! I just don't know what we are going to do when our kids grow up. :-(

Rach said...

Such a sweet post. Even though I dont have children (yet!) it reminds me to focus on the little things.

P.S. your chowder and cran-apple cider were a huge hit at my "Autumn Splendor" party yesterday.

Sandy said...

So sweet! Thank you so much for the wonderful job you did at Ladies Day. It was a great morning! Your girls are just adorable!

Becky Welch said...

How precious! What great reminders for all of us! Your girls probably think I am crazy because I talked to them Saturday like I knew them (called them by their name and everything) but I feel like I do!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Out of the mouths of babes!

Melissa, you are a good listener, and that is so important in life. That will make all the difference with your children because just think of the parents who might hear this and not take action. The difference is, you will and do!

XO,

Sheila :-)

Anonymous said...

HI, I am a complete stranger. Did you buy your monogram design online? If so would you mind sharing where? thanks!!

Melissa Lester said...

I did buy the applique embroidery design on Ebay from Kabo Designs. I have enjoyed this applique font and linked to the company in this post:

http://alittleloveliness.blogspot.com/2008/09/fall-fashion-finds.html

Christina said...

Moments like these are special indeed. It'll be the little things, the small gestures that will be remembered.

gr. Christina

Kim said...

What sweet girls!

Especially Heather said...

You have no idea how deeply this post has touched my heart.
Thank you for this post.
-H

Cindy ~ My Romantic Home said...

Melissa, that was so touching. It was a good reminder that it's the little things that count so much. Wonderful post!!!

Kimberly said...

Melissa, this is so convicting! I know you mean it to encourage, but I also know that I have so much work to do in this area of my family life. Thanks so much for sharing:)

deb said...

What a cute family!
It is so so true. Even as mine are getting older ( 5,, 11-20) , they really just want our time, some validation, to be loved for who they are.
Love this.

A Little Of This And That said...

They grow up all too soon.

BJ_Mama said...

This is so beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing this special moment with your daughter, and reminding us all to slow down, and just sit with our children..that;s all they want!

Tiffany said...

Love this story. Beautiful. Such a great reminder. I love the idea of tailoring love gifts to fit our loved ones. So precious. Thanks for sharing!

Heidi said...

she just gets more and more beautiful everytime I see her :-)
By the way, you need to teach me how to use MY machiene... It just sits :-(

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