Where has the time gone? A couple of years ago, when my eldest child was finishing his freshman year in high school I had a sudden, somewhat panicked feeling that he would be “gone” in a few years. He would leave the nest and life as I know it would never be the same.
I remember when my children were small and every older person sagely advised me to enjoy this time as it all goes by very quickly. I thought, “Yeah, right – I can barely make it through each day.” And then that moment happened – I suddenly felt time accelerating. What to do?
“We have to plan some vacations,” I told my husband.
Vacations and unique activities are what make memories. The day to day drudgery is how you build morals and values both consciously and unconsciously. But it’s the out of the ordinary things that children remember. Encouraging (or forcing) together time can be novel in itself but the challenge is to make it memorable.
I’m not one to scrapbook or take loads of pictures. I think the greatest memories are in your head and the way you viscerally feel when remembering them. The ones that are in your hard drive. Making memories can be intentional. And many memories are created unintentionally.
I had a simple, visceral memory of my own recently. At the end of a yoga class the instructor was going around giving everyone a therapeutic touch as we were in our final, resting pose. She gently placed her hand across my forehead. It made me remember the many times my own mother did this.
One of the goals of parenting for me is to create good memories for my children, like my mother did for me. As the first spring arrives since my mother died, my heart is lifting with the anticipation of warm weather, flowers and trees blooming. My happiness is muted knowing my mother will not enjoy this spring too. She loved going out to “inspect” her yard, clipping shears in hand. This memory will comfort me as I take shears and go out to inspect my yard. My mother will be with me and I’ll see things through my eyes but with her filter.
As I think about it, the vacations are the vivid memories we take from childhood but the little things are what brings us comfort and security throughout our adult lives. The memory that a parent cared for our bodies and our souls. That they were interested in who we were and how we fared in life. They are our biggest cheerleaders.
I guess that’s why I’m so focused on making the most of this last year before my eldest flies the coop. I feel an urgency to impart my wisdom, though I realize my timeline is arbitrary. I will continue to parent, but he will be influenced by the people he meets and his own experiences. What things will he remember from his childhood? The good times at the beach, holidays, vacations? Family dinners and family friends? Familiar songs or prayers? The cool hand on his warm forehead? The special things I bake and cook – the tastes and smells?
Will he remember the things I’m not as proud of? Apparently I’m known to raise my voice once or twice, or a thousand times. In my mind’s eye, I don’t perceive myself as a yeller though I admit the children provoke me sometimes.
I tell them, “I didn’t always yell. I used to be a normal person, just like you, who speaks in a normal tone of voice.”
Hopefully they won’t remember their Mom as “Old Yeller.” I try only to look forward, not back. The goal is not a perfect childhood, but a solid one to build the foundation for a successful adulthood however one defines that. I hope my children will remember the good times, the meaningful moments and the laughter in our home.
I know they will remember their mother pointing their finger at them and saying, “Let me tell you something….”