My church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, just had its semi-annual general conference last weekend. Two days full of talks from the prophet, apostles, and other general leaders. (Did you know we have a prophet on the Earth today? We do!)
One of the sessions during general conference was for the men. Women also have a session devoted to them. When I was growing up in California, my mom and I would go out to dinner during the men’s session of conference. I’m the only girl of six kids, and it was fun for my mom and me to have that testosterone-free time together.
As soon as I had my daughter, I instigated the same tradition. In California, my mom and I were just a couple of people out to dinner on that particular night. In Utah, where I’m now living, the religious demographics are slightly different, and that particular night on the town is more busy and crowded than an ant hill. Stores even capitalize on all the women having girls’ nights out and offer special deals and events on conference weekend during the hours of the men’s session.
My daughters and I have fought the crowds for the past few years, but this time I decided I’m done with going out on that night. Instead, I decided to instigate the tradition of a girls’ night in with my girls.
At my mom’s suggestion, we had ice cream for dinner and a service project for our activity. One hot summer night when I was growing up, my mom had no energy to make dinner in a hot kitchen. Instead, she opened up the freezer, removed all the ice cream, and threw it on the table with a bowl and a spoon for each of her six demanding children. You can’t top a memory like that. I still smile when I think of it.
My daughter’s eyes were as big as ice cream scoops when I told her our menu for our girls’ night in, and she’s mentioned our unconventional dinner several times since then. Memories created: check. And bonus: I didn’t even get frostbite.
After we cleaned up our indulgent dinner, we set to work on our service project. We know a social worker who works with children who’s parents have just passed away in the ICU. She likes to give them a blanket to keep as one last “hug” from their parents. So we decided to make a blanket for her stash.
We made one of those fleece tie-blanket things because I thought my 5-year-old would be able to do most of the work.
She was definitely physically able to do the work, but her stamina tuckered out pretty quick, which led me to the grumpy-growly-mommy stage.
As I griped at her for whining, I worried that the memories we were creating were only going to be negative ones. But then at one point, as our fingers were busy and the baby was occupied with going back and forth between Lydia (5) and me smooshing chapstick onto our lips, Lydia tied a knot and said, “Mama, I love you. I just love you so much.”
I do believe we feel more love when we are doing things for others, and so even though we had some rough hiccups in the middle of our project, I know it was the best thing for our relationship that night.
And once the blanket was complete, she somehow was able to totally forget how incredibly “difficult” the project had been.
I can’t wait for our next ice cream and service night six months from now. If you have any suggestions for service projects a 5-year-old can do, I’m all ears.