We write a lot around here about slowing down in our parenting, making the kids a priority despite balancing other responsibilities, and the importance of simply being there for our children. So I hear it often and agree with the sentiment – make the moments you have with your little ones count.
Up until a couple days ago, I’d underestimated my daughter’s memory and recollection abilities. The phase has already begun where we need to spell certain words in front of her so as not to get her prematurely excited about something she overhears us discussing. We’ve come to realize she’s taking in much more auditory information than we were aware of, and after a couple recent developmental growth spurts, we’ve been hearing the evidence recited back to us in the form of lines from movies watched over and over, songs she hears from us and on the radio, and in the recollection of the very odd and particular games she engages us in (“No, mommy, the dragon comes AFTER we eat the silly candle on Christmas Eve!”)
It really should have come as no surprise when, in the middle of a conversation with my toddler about something unrelated, she mentions to me, “…and mommy, we made a gingerbread house at play group, right?”
Why did this surprise me, when it shouldn’t have? I took notice for a few reasons. First, making the gingerbread house ornament wasn’t something we did yesterday; the Christmas-related activity was something we did two months ago. It was a one-time craft, not one of her repetitious games. The ornament has long since been packed away with our other Christmas decorations. And, it wasn’t like we’d been in the play group environment every week since we made the ornament; the play group session ended shortly after the holiday and didn’t pick up again until some time after she made this comment.
But I guess what struck me the most is that it was this nice memory she held on to from months ago, out of all the experiences we’ve had since, both good and bad.
The memories I want her my daughter to have of her childhood don’t all have to be of perfect days filled with crafts and cookies and snuggles. Those days are great when they happen, but there are also the days that are just damn hard. Like that time you slipped up and lost your cool when they purposefully knocked over the bowl of strawberries you just cut up, that they requested not 5 minutes prior (ahem). She may remember that, but hopefully she’ll also remember that I wasn’t too proud to apologized after the fact for my poor behavior, too.
I would hope that she would just remember the endless slogs each week to two different grocery stores, but that we get so excited to share an ice cream at the end of our trip.
So along with our frequent blog posts on the topic, the reminder came in real life, too: it’s never easy, and we all slip up, but I’ll try to give my best parenting to my daughter, more often than not, especially when it feels hard. I want the memories she holds on to to be ones I’m proud of – where I may not have been a perfect mom, but ones where she felt a priority and loved more than anything, even in the midst of our daily routine.