As I raise this family of mine, I often hope that the good things will stick. Many times us mothers live in constant worry – as if our children will only remember every single bad thing we ever did and forget all the good times that happened in between.
There was a time when my oldest was small, where every time I would mess up, yell, or react in a wrong way, I would comfort myself with the thought: “Well he’s only two, he won’t remember that.”
Then, “Hey he’s only three, I don’t remember anything from when I was three…maybe he’ll forget it.”
Then four, “He might actually remember this.”
Then Five: “By this age he’ll totally remember…”
And then Six: “He’ll never forget that!”
Somewhere along the way I had become haunted by the thought that every single flaw, every failure would be carefully recorded, stored in their memories and brought out on the inevitable day when they most certainly will all go to years of therapy to undo all my mistakes.
But realistically, our memories don’t work that way.
My own childhood is a mixed-up snapshot, a mostly happy blur of highlights: playing dolls with my sisters, an old horse named Gus who I led around the pasture for many hours, dump runs with my dad, working outside with the whole family and then going afterwards to my grandparents house to swim and eat freezer-burnt Revels (which, by the way, I LOVED because of all the ice on the outside and the middle was yellowish and chrystalized just as I liked it!!), singing with my mom while she rocked me in our old brown rocking chair, random cartoon characters, knitted kittens and KFC at my other Grandma’s house, hockey cards with hard chewing gum in the packs, stories of my Father’s fascinating childhood in Mexico, new batches of kittens every spring, special family vacations, family gatherings with cousins to play with, morning devotions, camping disasters and traumatic news events such as Princess Diana’s death and 9/11.
Were my parents perfect? No.
But do I have a file of horror stories that I need deep healing from? Absolutely not!
In fact, almost every single one of my memories of them are happy ones!!!
Still there’s days where I wonder: Will my kids remember any of the good?
Looking back on pictures of my firstborn has many times filled me with deep regret. Regret because I wanted so badly to be that perfect parent that I wanted HIM to be perfect, so I barely gave him a childhood. Still I was trying my very best then, just as I am now.
“Let’s play a game!” I suddenly said to my children one lazy afternoon as I was thinking such thoughts as these.
I called it “Snapshots and Memories”
“Let’s take turns telling stories of our early memories (good or bad) and see what all comes to mind!”
What’s the worst that can happen?? (Part of me expected the worst.)
I started off the game with a memory from when I was five. My family was moving to a new community and I was so excited, yet sad, simply because I was really worried about missing the opportunity to sleep with our big class bear in kindergarten! Each child got a turn to take the bear home and sleep with it for a night…(ok that’s kind of gross now to think about!!) But my teacher was so kind that I got “randomly picked” the night before my last day at that school. I was thrilled! Now I could move on 😉
Next Bella shared a memory of going to a conference when she was six and being so embarrassed when a boy her age kept following her around telling her he was “in love” with her. She shuddered at the memory! (Oh the problems of being popular everywhere you go lol).
Then Jonas shared a memory of a spicy chip he ate and that I gave him a cold glass of milk afterwards…. (skipping that part about his dad encouraging it and filming as he changed from smug faced to “oh boy, this is HOT!🥵”)
Ok phew! So far so good!
Dallas shared next about going through my spices in the cupboard when I came up asking what he was doing and he kept saying “I’m trying to sell it” when he really meant “smell it”.
Emerson told a random story about monsters chasing him and me spraying them with a fire gun…which I quite enjoyed because I was the hero of that one and it most likely was 100% true…
AND…then the game took a very sharp downhill turn of made up senarios that I’m quite certain never actually took place, ALTHOUGH….the story of our family rocket blasting down Mt. Everest with two day old baby Emerson strapped to it really would be quite the adventure to tell the grandchildren about one day!
Maybe I’ll have to keep that one in the memory book…
As for their “ruined” childhoods, I am now certain that it’s not the actual failures I need to worry about, but the made up ones.