I am Sarah Burke. I’m a wife and mother. I like to keep journals, read English literature, spend time in nature, and can almost kayak as fast as my thirteen-year-old son. My husband, Jason, keeps me grounded and is an incredible example to me of someone who is always looking for opportunities to serve. Our five children: Tanner (16 years old), Andrew (13), Margaret (10), Nathan (6), and Gabe (3), keep both Jason and I from ever growing complacent.
As I have pondered writing this blog post, with the theme of my experiences with motherhood at it’s core, I have kept coming back to the idea of connections. To me, family and the gospel is all about connections to others: my husband, my individual children, and most importantly with my Heavenly Father and with my Savior, Jesus Christ.
I am excited for this blog, and what I hope will become a venue for all of us to become a little more connected. Please respond and comment! There are few things I enjoy more than learning about what works for others. I think we could have some wonderful exchanges of ideas on here.
Trading routines for meaningful moments.
In this season of my life, it is actually hard for me to imagine not being connected to my family- as in physically connected! Most hours of the day, and sometimes night, I have at least one of my children with me. I help dress, feed, and clean my little guys. I help my middle children read, study, and practice. I attempt to stay up late enough to talk through my oldest child’s schedule. From sun up, until sun down, I am rarely alone. All of those things are good and important, but they can easily become just routines.
I know from experience that I can fall into the pattern of making sure immediate needs are meet, but not really taking the time for eye-to-eye moments. These moments usually require just a little more time and effort. It may mean that I get on eye level with my toddler and make sure to give him a sincere “Good Morning!” That small act alone can make him feel inside, that I am glad to be with him. It may mean that I take the time to sit next to my kindergartener while he is reading, and tell him how much he has improved this year. A heartfelt phrase can give him some pride in his growing ability. Maybe it means slowing down enough to braid my daughter’s hair and discuss her day, so that she knows that I truly care about how she feels and what she thinks. Perhaps I can make a difference in my teenage son’s evening, by listening to the music he is researching, downloading and trying to learn. It doesn’t matter that our tastes are different, I just want to have a discussion with him about what he likes. That can be a hard thing to do with a teenager, but when I show interest in his preferences, he almost always opens up and shares. It might mean inviting a houseful of high school boys over, so that my teenager realizes, that I care who his friends are.
None of these acts are huge, but I believe that they can make a big difference in my family and how understood and loved we feel. When I consciously try to connect, my goal changes from checking things off of my daily to-do list, to showing an individual that I care.
Finding common ground.
Almost exactly a year ago, Jason and I moved our family to a small farm. The word farm may be an aggrandizement, though. We basically have some land, which we love. We don’t produce much yet, unless children and messes count!? But we choose to live here to provide our family with the opportunity to be closely in tune with nature. And so far, it is working. We have tripled the time our children spend outside, and we consider the move to be a success.
Instead of more television or devices, we have encouraged fresh air and dirt. My goal as a mother here is to allow this land and environment to make a mark on each of us. It can change a person to star gaze on warm evenings, to have races with siblings around the pond, to create names for all of our special family landmarks here. (Our tree swings are on a little hilltop named Epiphany Point. If you ask me why, I’ll gladly tell you.) We are intentionally using this experience to help us transform our family. It is our common ground.
Why? Besides the beauty, which makes me happy every day, Jason and I want to have these shared experiences of life on this small farm to tie us together. Someday in the future, we will all look back and hopefully remember our experiences here fondly. We will laugh about all the things we had to quickly learn when we moved here, like what to do when the lawnmower slides into the mud around the pond (Don’t try to reverse out, it will only get worse and slide into the water!). We will never forget what happens when someone finds an abandoned goose egg and puts it on top of a hot rock, so that everyone can see it. It heats up and explodes!! We won't forget that smell either!
These experiences and our retelling of them are creating our family stories and legends. I hope we laugh about and retell them for years and years. It doesn't really matter where we live or what our common ground is, what matters is that we try to identify it and make it special.
Let’s talk about it!
~What is a shared activity that is special to your family? Is it a vacation spot, spending time together at sporting events, baking cookies with grandparents?
~How do you find time for meaningful moments with your family members?