Danielle Heckenkamp considers the importance of the gift of consistency in parenting and in faith.
If someone asked you to describe the winters of your childhood, what would it be? For me, it would be “eating homemade soup, sledding down the snow-covered hills, and drinking hot coca after hours in the cold.” Of course, my childhood was not limited to these three items. The more I think about the care-free winter days of my childhood, I begin to ponder the consistency of growing up on an urban homestead. Yes, my family lived in a big city but had a small homestead on a quarter of an acre. We grew a large amount of our food, canned/preserved as much as possible, and enjoyed slow living in a busy place. But there was consistency—in the seasons, in our homestead, and in our Catholic faith.
Consistency is something that children take for granted in the moment, but they also desperately seek it. It was in this repetitive nature of homesteading that fostered a love for the seasons and an appreciation for my family even among the hardships and the pleasures. I quickly learned the gift of consistency.
In childhood, I knew that every winter my mom would spend long hours in the kitchen chopping vegetables and cooking meat for a delicious homemade soup. And often, there would be warm cups of hot cocoa after a long day sledding in the cold. Thinking back to those small memories gives me comfort. But why? Because no matter what changed in our family: deaths of relatives, new babies, or my younger brother’s disabilities, my parents always kept the day-to-day living the same. There was great comfort in the repetition and those seemingly monotonous tasks.
If we want to preserve the knowledge given to us by past generations, transfer that knowledge to our children, and continue to learn along this path of life—we must find comfort in the consistency, which sometimes may appear monotonous. Most days will not seem social-media-worthy. But the days that we hunker down and lose ourselves weeding in the garden, or baking three loaves of sourdough bread, or picking a basket of green beans only for the boys to eat it all within an hour—these are the days that we are truly living.
Adulthood is difficult and it isn’t easy raising children in this world, but truly, was it ever easy? Just a different time with different problems. So, what has held families together for thousands of years in a chaotic world? It was the consistency within the home. Whether you’re single or married (with or without children), you have a special place in this world to make a difference. Making homemade soups and baking sourdough bread might not interest you, but something else will. By sharing our loves and interests, we can create consistency in our own lives, and this will have a great impact on other people.
Maybe you’re the friend who bakes sourdough loaves to hand out at book club. Maybe you’re the neighbor who plants extra tomato seeds, only to hand out the extra plants in spring. Maybe you’re the mom who prefers to host the neighbor kids (every single day) in the backyard while handing out cookies and lemonade. Maybe you’re the person who makes the effort to support local small businesses by shopping at farmers’ markets. Or maybe you’re the parent who wakes up every morning to make the kids a warm breakfast.
Whatever your gifts, you have them to share. They might not seem like “important” gifts. The world downplays the simple things in life. But this is consistency. These gifts are more important than you realize because they bring comfort to others in an inconsistent world—just as drinking hot cocoa always brings a smile to my face.
Copyright 2023 Danielle Heckenkamp
About the Author
Danielle Heckenkamp is a stay at home mom and freelance writer who lives in Wisconsin with her husband and six children. Danielle writes about her daily experiences as a mom and love for her Catholic Faith. Danielle is the co-author of a nonfiction book about manners and common sense. You can step inside Danielle s daily life on Instagram.