The Responsibility of Memories

This is a time of year when traditions find their way back into our home. But, you know what? Sometimes I have no idea where these traditions have come from. More often, I never expected that they would become traditions in the first place. But they have, just because it is what we “always” do. It is what my children expect that we do. It is what they remember and count on and find comfort in.

I often read my 8yo’s writing (*proud proud proud* of it, too) and am stunned by what he remembers. I can’t believe he has this or that stored away and then accessed over and over as “that time when we went to that place and this happened.” Why was that special? It wasn’t special. Was it?

It is dawning on me that I am responsible for my children’s official childhood memories.

Oh my God.

This seems more mind-blowing than the daily exhaustion of feeding, clothing, schooling, homeworking, driving them. Because so much of the very mundane, very everyday stuff will mostly be forgotten (I think). It is the traditions and the trips. The decorations I pull out and the chocolate chip pancakes on Saturday mornings that WILL be remembered. And I am in charge of all that. So I better make it good.

Fall Festival = Good Memory

I’m trying. I know I can’t over-think it. But I’m trying. So, today, we went to a corn maze — a tradition they have come to count on every October. We had a great time. Phew.

Because here’s the other part. While I am responsible for their memories, I can’t control what their minds snap hold of and never forgets. Will my 5 yo remember how I hollered at him when we got home about video games? I yelled that he needed to get outside, and “I don’t CARE what you’re saying, just stop bothering me already!” …Ugh. Will he remember that today, too? Because I was tired after a morning of driving an hour there, traipsing through a corn maze, rallying them through carnival games and driving them back. Sure, any adult could understand what set me off. But a child very often does not. So, will my 5yo remember “Yeah, we did this fun thing but my mom yelled at me about video games that day and it made me sad.”

Mommy Yelled About Video Games = Bad Memory

I suppose we can’t control what sends them to therapy one day. I suppose every mother does her pound of damage.

So the point is here that I’m aware. I’m aware that my children look to me and wait for me to create their childhood. They wait to be exposed to what is out there and then expect explanations. And if we just happen to do it over and over, it is “what WE do, in THIS family” and that is that.

I hope I can do right by them. I know I won’t. Not entirely. And they will tell me about the times I yelled at them someday. But I have to hold on to hope — and go into that weird place of denial most mothers do so that they don’t go insane with guilt — that these two very significant childhoods will be good enough.

Happy That-Time-of-Year-I-Better-Not-F-Up Holidays!

7 comments ↓

#1 Cami on 11.01.11 at 7:09 pm

Your children will have great memories that you all create together. How wonderful! You’re a good mom.
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#2 emerald on 11.02.11 at 7:14 am

Your son are so lucky to have you as her mother.
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#3 Maria on 11.04.11 at 10:15 am

Yeaaaaaaah, this. THIS JOB IS HARD.
Maria´s last [type] ..screw up

#4 Shela on 11.07.11 at 12:25 am

You did an excellent job..That’s why your kids loves you.I know they are so proud of you.
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#5 sandraw2580 on 11.09.11 at 12:28 am

Thank you for this great post! Your kids will have more good memories than bad ones. I myself could remember a lot of happy memories growing up, than bad memories. I could say I have no bad memories at all!
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#6 If I Could Escape on 11.16.11 at 7:19 pm

Loved reading this and it’s so true. ;)
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#7 Joel on 01.24.12 at 5:33 am

Hey it was a lovely read. These moments are the most important in your relation with your kids. You are on the right path ;)
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