I have the good fortune of having a wonderful MIL. She raised my Husband, how can I not adore her? She is a sentimental person. One of the most sentimental people I have met. I do not come from a line of sentimental people.
One shining example of this? The amount of stuff she has kept from DH's childhood. Books, drawings, and empty glass jar that held the vaseline sent home from the hospital, EVEN his first diaper pin. (yes people used to use cloth diapers, and sharp pins!)
I am not by nature a sentimental person. Probably because I grew up in a very small home, in which we all shared one room, there was no room to be sentimental.
Shortly after I married DH she introduced me to the laundry jars. These were jars she kept on the dryer when her 2 sons were growing up. When she found something interesting in pockets, she would place these things in the jar. (I thought this was a nutty idea, when she showed me these jars filled with rocks, bottle caps, and foreign coins....
However, children are collectors by nature. I did not know this. The most popular thing to collect at my home at this time are rocks. I forget to check pockets often, and I hear the banging around about 1 minute after I start the dryer and am reminded. There are other collections too.
My daughter insists on saving all candy wrappers, pinecones, leaves, and rocks.
My son, well that is another story, his drawer contains coins, jokes, rocks, and hair. Uhhh hair? Yes, hair, he has saved a pinch of hair from the last 2 haircuts. Why? He is saving them for DNA testing. The other day he had brought a petrified small toad in the house, and I had to draw the line. (Although the suggestion was made that I make a nest out of the hair, and let him keep the darn thing).
OK, and the point of this, the jars, the hair, the maddness?
While our spouses are gone, they miss soooooo much. And I think a fabulous way for our little ones from ages 3-8 to reconnect would be.... to let them have the collections. Take my MIL suggestion and keep a jar on the dryer. I think the Mommy or Daddy that has been gone, would love to sit with his or her little ones and peruse the contents of these jars. Children love talking about treasures, even if we do not understand them.
The other day I sat on the playground as my daughter and neice looked through pebbles for 1 solid hour, giving commentary on each and every single one. They loved that I took the time to listen.
I think it also might help explain why Momma looks fatigued, or why the house smells of dead toad. The contents might remind you of a cute story, or a long walk.