My childhood memories themselves are slices. I wish I could remember more details- but I know that all of my experiences, whether I remember them or not are part of who I am, and what I know. I have small pebbles of memories. I can close my eyes and see my mom picking me up from preschool, after she dyed her hair. (I was nervous about it, cried I think.) I can remember riding on the back of her motorcycle for the short block home from the babysitter. (Not nervous, just excited.) I can remember waking up in the middle of the night, and calling for my mom and dad, worried about the dark where ghosts and robbers and fire lived.
The memory of my first childhood house comes with unidentifiable senses: It is just a feeling of remembering… a long dark wooden library table, an old couch with the handmade quilt covering the back, the small white kitchen table, the hall closet full of games, my primary-colored room with low bookshelves full of books. My memories are infused with a huge feeling of love. I had a great childhood! I dressed barbies in clothes my mom made for them, and wore a “Little House on the Prairie” dress she made for me. I remember talking to my mom all the time. We must have talked all day, and I know we had special talk time at night when we snuggled cozy before I fell asleep. I’m sure my mom had so much to do, and that she probably wanted to spend some time with my dad. I know that she had shows that she wanted to watch, and work and cleaning and crocheting to do. But she always had time for me. She listened, she told me jokes and stories, sang me songs and taught me all along the way.
As soon as I became a mother, and ever since, I’ve wondered how I can do for my kids what my parents did for me. How can I teach my kids all the important things? How can I reassure them about all their fears, when sometimes I still call my mom and dad for reassurance? How can I give them a childhood full of songs and stories? I’m not at home with my kids for even a fraction of the time my mom was home with me, and I’m certainly not as patient. I am still learning how to sew, and you should see my failed birthday cupcakes!
We live very close to my parents. When people find this out, they usually say some variation of “Wow! Built-in babysitters! So lucky!” This is true. My parents watch my kids not only for date nights, but also in sudden times of urgent need. In fact, just today, in between all the other things she had to do, my mom took my daughter to piano to help our schedule. I am lucky.
At a certain point in time, my mom decided that she wanted to help us during our morning craziness. She comes most mornings, makes breakfast for the kids, helps them get dressed and ready for the day while my husband and I finish packing lunches, getting ready for our day, etc. When people hear this, their “you’re so lucky” exclamations get even louder. I am lucky. I’m lucky because mornings are crazy and any help with breakfasts and socks and shoes and packing schoolbags is heaven sent. But this week, I realized again that the convenience and help isn’t what makes me blessed.
I’m blessed because as I’m getting ready for school, and all the mundaneness that entails, I get to listen as my kids get granny time. She tells them jokes and listens to theirs. She brings them gifts of crocheted hats and scarves and fixes their clothes. She braids my daughters hair (I can’t seem to get the hang of a french braid) and listens to the dreams everyone had the night before. She tells them the same stories of her childhood that I remember her telling me. Through these stories and songs and daily conversations, my kids are getting more than a shadow of my childhood – they are getting a bright link to my childhood. I feel it makes my memories alive for them in a way that wouldn’t be possible without their close connection to my parents. I hope they know how lucky they are.