One of my favorite people of all time is Marjorie Hinckley, wife of our late prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley. In "Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley, she offers some wonderful insights about many things, including mothering. She tells this story:
Our children grew up in a semi-rural area. We had a fairly large piece of property with lawns and gardens and orchards and plenty of work to keep the boys out of mischief. A wooded ravine ran through the property; we called it "the hollow."
One day our oldest boy turned up missing. There were lawns to be mowed, irrigation ditches to be cleaned. The hours ticked away. All afternoon I practiced a speech I would give him when he showed up. And show up he did, at mealtime, which I knew he would. "Where have you been?" I asked.
"Down in the hollow."
"And what have you been doing down in the hollow?"
His reply, "Nothing."
Some years later I had rason to be glad that I had not given him the speech. He was home from his mission and a senior at the university. It was test week. He was under a lot of pressure to do well in order to get into the graduate school of his choice. Things were not going too well with his girlfriend. The pressures of adult life were beginning to be felt. I watched him as he drove home from school one afternoon. He got out of the car, kicked a clod of dirt, went over to examine the swelling buds on the lilac tree, came in the kitchen, straddled a chair backwards, and said, "Mom, I had a wonderful childhood, didn't I?"
"Well, I hope so. You did your share of complaining about all the work that had to be done."
"Oh, it was wonderful," he said. "Those long summer days when you could lie on your back in the hollow and listen to the birds sing and watch the ants build their castles."
The memory of the peace of a summer day-- "God's in his heaven, and all's right with the world"-- sustained him when the pressures of adult life began to crowd in.
Things are different now. Children hear so many voices from so many directions. There are so few empty summer days. There are pressures to excel. It has become a challenge to let children be children.
It has never been so important that children have a home that is a place of refuge, a place of peace, a place of unconditional love-- even when the report card may not be what you hoped for.
I love this story. I was very blessed to have had a wonderful childhood full of peaceful summer days, exploring outside and letting my imagination run wild. I was blessed to have inspired parents who helped me develop my talents without putting too much pressure or stress on me. There are so many great things for our children to learn and great experiences for them to have but I think the most important thing is as she says "let children be children" and enjoy a few empty summer days. I think that nature is the best classroom and curiosity and imagination are great teachers. I hope my boys will look back on their childhood and have warm memories that will give them a foundation of security and a sense of what is most important.