Some of my strongest memories of childhood were in my grandmother’s kitchen at “The Farm.” It was a small, square configuration with a yellow and black table at its heart. The hearth off to the side was where I usually found myself, propped up against the cold brick fireplace as I tried to stay out of the way. My mom, aunt and grandmother all busied themselves with chopping, stirring, and sidestepping their way to the pantry for more supplies.
The sights and smells and sounds were all-encompassing, and my mind held onto the most memorable moments, letting the others slip away. My Mimi’s laughter. My aunt’s work ethic. My mother’s stories and the way she paused while she talked, waving her kitchen utensils in broad gestures to complement her words. The teamwork it took to get lunch on the table at 11:59 for my grandfather who was always hungry at noon.
I don’t remember a lot of what was said, but I remember how it made me feel. I felt safe, secure, and like I was privy to a well-oiled machine. I felt included. From time to time I would be drawn into the cogs and wheels that were gliding smoothly to help with the simpler tasks of folding napkins, setting the table, and filling the glasses with ice. I joined the dance as I dipped and dodged the busy mamas at work before me.
These scenes that replay in my mind confirm to me what I’m learning now as I parent – children learn best by watching. Teaching and telling only go so far; the memories they will carry with them forever involve all of their senses. It’s my job to provide them with a whole picture of what I want them to learn – see, hear, taste, touch, and smell.
5 Lessons I Want My Children to Learn From Me (Using Their Senses)
Three women running a small kitchen seems like a recipe for disaster. There were frustrating situations and times when one woman would step out for a moment, but everyone knew their limits, and everyone wanted to be there. Patience won as they toiled side-by-side with a common end in sight. I want my children to see me practice this valuable trait, and know without a doubt that I will exercise it with them when I need to.
It’s so easy to get caught up in tasks and neglect the fun. I want my children to watch me work joyfully, and I want to cultivate an atmosphere that begs for more laughter.
There’s nothing like toiling in a hot kitchen all morning and then sitting down together at a tiny table to eat what you’ve all just made. We feasted together as my grandfather praised my grandmother’s talents, and listened as she in turn complimented all of her sous-chefs. It was so gratifying to be a part of a team that worked hard together to achieve marvelous results. I want my children to not just hear me teach this skill, but to partake in it as we work together as a family. I want them to live this with me while they are under my care.
The best part of sitting on the sidelines was being called into play. My mom and grandmother always found a way to include me, even if I just stirred, or held a tool until they were ready for it. Because I got to share in the responsibility, I was able to share in the reward. What a privilege as a young child to be held in such high esteem! I want my children to know I trust them at a young age.
Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Most of all, I want them to see Christ in me. I want them to see me serve them and others selflessly. I want them to look at my life and see an example of a servant poured out for others and the work of the Lord. I want them to catch a whiff and long for that scent as they seek out friendships, companions, and partners in ministry.
Mimi’s kitchen may have been small, but big lessons were learned there. This Mother’s Day, I am so grateful for the privilege I have been given to raise arrows that will shoot straight into the world (Psalm 127:4). As I continue to pray about the best way to influence them, my prayer comes back to my own heart. Lord, make me a woman of God who practices patience, welcomes laughter, shares the fruit of my labor, invites my children to help me, and gives off a pleasant aroma that is evidence of a happy heart.
Image Credit: ©Thinkstock.com/Jacob-Ammentorp-Lund
Sarah Elizabeth Finch is a wife to Jake, mother of two children under two, and a storyteller at heart. Outside the home she works contract as a medical Speech-Language Pathologist and volunteers with Student Ministries at her church, discipling a small group of girls from sixth grade through high school. She is passionate about uncovering beautiful stories in seemingly mundane moments. Some of her life-long goals include getting an MFA, running a marathon, writing a book, and seeing her children know Jesus. Connect with her on on her website, or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.