What I Want My Children To Remember About Their Childhood
by Brae Craig
I have always had a good memory. Most people can’t remember when they were very young, but I do. I recall sounds, smells, and even exact conversation from the time I was very young. I don’t usually need a calendar to remember important dates or times, and, without looking, I still know my babies birth dates, times, and their size and lengths.
My childhood was filled with summers spent catching snakes and throwing water balloons. Christmases, birthdays, baby brothers and sisters, giggling with friends, card games with my family, and lots of small details that made me who I am.
Now I am a mother, and, while my childhood is behind me, my children’s childhoods are staring me in the face.
I’m sure every mother can identify with my emotions here. I am terrified that they will look back and remember every single moment that I yelled at them. I just KNOW they will remember the times I made them sit and eat the food they HATED (usually spinach lasagna.) or the times I didn’t give them what they want. I am afraid that somewhere, I will, in the heat of the moment, say something I shouldn’t and that, despite apologies, my comment will scar them for life and turn them into bank robbers instead of award winning concert pianists (I’m kidding on the concert pianist thing.) I am afraid that, when they are with their friends, they will have nothing good to say about me.
The truth is, I’m sure that in my past, my parents disciplined me plenty of times. I’m sure I received spankings, and no doubt they yelled at me and maybe said some regrettable things. I know, for sure, that my mother used to insist that I eat mushy green beans from a can (I still can’t stand them), and, if my mother is as normal as any other mother out there today, she probably faced a lot of guilt for it, just like we do.
But do you know what? I don’t remember those things with any kind of vividness, and I’m not screwed up.
When Lilly was born, my mom got me a baby book for her that is illustrated by Mary Englebreit (who I LOVE) – it is filled with darling pictures of babies, and families, and women in slippers with captions that read “Queen Of Everything.” and “Life is just a chair of bowlies”
There is one picture, though, that captured my heart from the very moment I saw it. (And forgive me, I spent, literally, hours looking for a proper picture on the internet and could not find one…so you get a snapshot from my camera.)
I love this because, as this little boy is going off to school, all those hearts are floating out of his home while his mother kisses him goodbye.
Despite my fears, I’m pretty sure that my kids won’t remember the times they were grounded from television, or had to put their nose on the corner for time outs. Over the years, they will remember laughing late at night while we all snuggled together on the couch watching movies. They will remember family vacations, and holidays. What I really hope they remember when they look back at their childhoods is a home so full of love that it hit them hard in the face whenever they opened the door after school. I hope they remember feeling safe and secure. I hope it’s strong enough to follow them each day to school, and wrap them in a bubble on their way back home. I hope it’s enough that, when they go off to college or get their own apartments, little hearts float out their doors and windows whenever they open them too.
THAT is what I want my children to remember about their childhoods.