our kids' childhood memories

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

On an afternoon that felt particularly exhausting, I was thinking back to easier days and I caught myself in a string of flashbacks of things that feel very much like they defined my childhood.

The heat vent at the top of the steps that we used to sit on with our shirt all the way over our knees while the heat filled up our pajamas like a circus tent.

The space below the thin counter near our wall phone that we used to sit under while chatting to our school friends, before we had any thought that we needed privacy for conversations.

Macaroni & Cheese with hot dogs and ketchup on top, kool-aid in a 'borrowed' pizza hut pitcher, balloon volleyball in the living room, cereal on the porch in an Adirondack chair during summer vacation.

My sisters and I in the backseat of our car - always in the same seats - sharing space and blankets and trying to sing over top of each other.

Jumping on the trampoline in autumn when the leaves would fall down all around us while the cool wind whipped our hair around mid-jump.

French toast for brunch at Gram's house that was always filled with her laugh and Pap tickling behind our ears as we ran by him on his reclining chair.

Pap's hands around our wrists to make us 'clap, clap, whoops!' and Gram's hug - fully consumed inside the safe, soft circle of her body.

Our cool kitchen floor, where when I was overwhelmed in high school - I used to lay down with my cheek flat against it and just breathe.

My Dad's steady voice and my Mom's soft, worn hands.

A shared, knowing glance with Kayla and Tasha's head asleep, leaning on my shoulder.

My parents planned awesome birthday parties and vacations, and occasionally we received gifts that we had been wanting for so long, and we got to attend amazing events and opportunities.  And although each of these extraordinary moments were important to who I have become - they rarely make their way into my mind when I think about my childhood as a whole.  My childhood memory is made up of ordinary moments.  These unremarkable flickers of the things that feel like 'home' to me; feel like being young.

I've been thinking recently about what it will be that our kids look back on and define as their childhood.  I imagine they will feel nostalgic about the ordinary, just as we do.  I don't want to attempt to speculate on the things that I hope the kids will remember because I believe their memories will be held together by the little moments that we maybe don't even know we're doing - all the ordinary things that slide through our days without a second glance from our grown up eyes.

Somehow this thought gives me solace to know that they will look back on what it was like to grow up in our house through a lens that we, as their parents, are not yet privy; that someday they'll remind us of some small regular moment and we'll be awed that it was saved somewhere in their childhood repository.

Since I can't predict those moments that they will cling to - I hope to keep myself in check by making sure that there are more smiles than tears in each day - more cuddles than shipments to time-out.  I will attempt to make the time that we share all together include more laughs than arguments.  That more of our days are blanketed with peacefulness and patience rather than stress and hastiness.

I don't know what ordinary moments will make up my kids' childhood memories someday - all I do know is that they are being made right now.

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