I saw this sign on Pinterest:
I've thought about it a lot. It's an idea that's been in my head for some time now--the idea that while I'm just keeping my head above water and trying to get through each day, paying bills, making dinner, making sure the house isn't a total wreck--in the meantime, my children are making memories. A normal day for me can be a turning point or an oft-repeated story for them when they get older.
ME: I'm in the playhouse one afternoon, sitting at the top of the slide, preparing to go down. Then, I notice at the bottom of the slide, SOMETHING is there. It looks like a snake. What if it's a snake??? Yes, it does look remarkably like a piece of jump rope or something...but WHAT IF IT'S A SNAKE??? What if I slide down and it gets me? This is not a chance I can take. The results would be too horrible. I need to be SURE it's not a snake. I sit there. I think. And then, I remember that there is one person whose always on my side and will make sure I'm ok and that the snake doesn't get me. "MOM!!!" I scream. No answer. Mom is inside and probably can't hear me. "MOM!!!!" I yell again. And again. For quite some time. Suddenly Mom is there. I tearfully and disjointedly explain that there's a snake at the bottom of the slide. Mom reaches up and picks me up from the slide and carries me, crying, into the house. As I pass the slide I get a better look at the snake. It is only a piece of jumprope. I'm sure glad Mommy rescued me anyway.
This is how I remember it. I'm sure my mother, on the other hand, has totally forgotten this incidence. Now that I'm a mom, I think I can imagine how her side of the story went.
MOM: Crap. I've got to get these dishes washed before the kids come home from school. Oh, and I've got to switch the laundry over. Where did I put that other glove I found? Was that Megan crying? Huh. Oh, there it is. I'll put it up here in the closet. Now for that laundry. Wait--was that Megan crying? I guess I'd better go look. She's in the backyard by herself. Man, I've only got five minutes and they'll all be home and wanting a snack. Oh yes, there she is. What in the world is she crying about? "Are you ok honey? A snake? That's not a snake. Come inside." Now what can I make them for lunch?
To my mother, this was just a normal incidence on a normal day. To me, it became a memory I still carry with me thirty years later. Why do I remember it? Why is this particular memory still there? Is it because I learned that Mommy will always save me? That I shouldn't be afraid? That some things appear worse than they really are? I don't know. But that day, Mom was doing the dishes, and I was making a memory.
And now I am the mom, and I wonder what is happening each day that, for me, will be insignificant and forgotten, and for them will be something they remember forever?
I remember going up to Oregon to visit family as a child--it was a magical place. We'd spend hours chasing barn cats, wandering the farm, playing in the irrigation ditch. Now, I go up as the adult. And I just sit and visit with everyone and thoroughly enjoy myself, not really paying attention to what all the noisy kids are up to--as long as they aren't crying or bleeding, I'm good. I don't really realize that they are off--having adventures, creating memories they will always cherish, while my conversations with relatives, while enjoyable, will likely be forgotten forever.
Some people spend their entire lives trying to "get over" their childhood. But I was one of the lucky ones that had a wonderful childhood. I grew up in a loving home and was taken care of and loved. I remember my childhood as magical. Can I really make my children's childhood as magical as mine? Can I make my home the comfortable, loving, friendly place that my own home was, growing up? Or is this a magic I even create? Don't children create the magic themselves?
We were watching slides at my parent's house the other day. One of my sisters noted the clock that was in the background of one of the slides--it was the clock that hung in our kitchen for most of my childhood. And we were all like, "Oh! Remember that clock! Wow! Look at that clock!" And mom is probably like "it's just a clock I got for my wedding. Big deal." Was the clock magical? No--it was just our memories that made it that way. It was just a symbol that reminded us of a simpler time when we were comfortable, happy, and loved.
I feel this pressure to give my little girls what was given to me--a backyard that has good grass and a big playhouse and an interesting layout where they can dream and imagine and play with their friends. Right now my grass is so course and gross that you can't walk on it with bare feet, and we can hardly afford to fix it right now. I feel so bad that I'm not giving them what was given me. I'm so worried that they won't have the magical memories that I had.
But then I have an evening where we're all playing together--I'm stealing Afton's nose and she's running to Daddy, and he picks her up and "hides" her from me while I try to get at her, all the time she's letting out peals of laughter. Trevor and I hold the babies facing each other, and they giggle as we fly them around the room in our arms, Afton in the background trying to fly too. Afton goes to Grandma's house and plays in Grandpa's shop--which she talks about non-stop on the way home. Or she goes to her other Grandma's and reads an Elmo book, crying and crying when I come to take her home. These are different memories than the ones I had. And I don't know which ones she'll take with her into her adulthood. I guess all I can do is make sure that most of them are as happy and comfortable and loving as I can. All I can do is make absolutely sure that she and her sisters know they are loved, that we will do anything to make sure they are taken care of and happy, and that, when the sad times come or when they are scared, we still have each other. I think that has it's own kind of magic--the kind of magic that settles over an ordinary day and makes it into a learning opportunity and a memory that lasts a lifetime.
So even when life is a little bit messy--and my house isn't so clean--it's ok, isn't it? We're all just making memories!
Brooklynn turns 2
2 years ago