In my dozen years of parenting, I have found one clichéd statement to ring true.
The days are long, but the years are short.
I looked at my oldest son the other day and realized exactly how true this statement is. The chub is long gone from his cheeks. His once-tiny hands are now nearly as big as mine. The little foot that used to stomp around in my boots can no longer squeeze into those same shoes. Those long days slid into short years, and my baby grew up.
And I don’t remember most of it.
Of course I remember first steps and birthdays. But those other days? The ones that seemed to go on forever as I rocked a fussy infant or calmed a tantruming toddler? Those days have faded into my past, meshing into one another. No longer “Tuesday” but “when he was 6-and-a-half….ish. Or maybe 7…”
I know my kids aren’t going to remember everything about their childhood. I often wonder, though, what are they going to remember about me? What will they tell their own kids about their mom?
Here are a few things I hope they remember:
Our little adventures
We are a large family with a small income. No tropical vacations dazzle in our future. I try to make up for this by putting a huge effort into taking my kids on little adventures. I often spend my spare time scouring Groupon for deals on fun activities, or reserving museum passes from the many local libraries I am a member of. We spend our school vacations and summers finding new playgrounds and hiking trails. Our “big vacation” each year is a long weekend away in New Hampshire with friends, where we use passes to parks that I have purchased months before using a Black Friday deal. Our adventures don’t usually take us far from home, but they are a ton of fun!
How much I cherish my friends
That friend we go to NH with? We met in third grade. I hope that while we are on our vacation together, after all of our children snuggle into their beds at night, they hear us adults laughing around a board game and enjoying a friendship we have cultivated for decades. I hope my kids realize this long-lasting friendship is one of many friendships their dad and I have kept for years.
And while they think about friends, I hope they remember the family-style relationship we have with our neighbors. Doors always open, no knocking required, a box of freeze pops on hand for any kid in the neighborhood all summer long.
How I always found the humor in life
When my kids are adults and look back to their childhood, I hope they remember my silly dances, conga lines through the house, and kick-butt renditions of Toto’s “Africa.” (But I hope when they remember that last part, they remember me with a kick-butt singing voice — not the one I actually have!)
How much I celebrated them
I am always a little bit concerned that my kids will feel lost in the shuffle because they have so many siblings. For this reason, we celebrate. We celebrate big, and we celebrate loud. We have big birthday parties for each of our kids, surrounded by friends and family. I routinely post about their accomplishments on my social media accounts. And that old adage that you have a ton of pictures of the first kid, but less of the others? That one certainly doesn’t apply here. My kids refer to me as the “mama-razzi.”
How involved I tried to be
With five kids, I know that time constraints will cause me not to be at every activity they participate in. But this doesn’t stop me from trying my hardest! I want them to remember how very hard I tried to simply be there. Yes, it means that nearly every one of my days is spent participating in a PTO event, sitting at a baseball field, or listening to tentative guitar strums. But I genuinely love seeing my kids do things they enjoy, and I want them to know I will make sure to be there for each of them, every chance I get. These years are short, and I intend to fully enjoy them.
When my kids are grown, I hope they remember these long days and short years with fondness. And if they remember nothing else, I hope they can look back on their childhoods and say:
I remember how much my mom loved me. And I remember how hard she tried.