What is your earliest childhood memory? How old were you? I don’t remember much of my childhood for some reason. I remember friends and school days, but can’t always associate an age with a memory. When it comes to personal, familial memories, there are few under age 10 and many are not positive. I asked this question because sometimes I wonder what my children will recall, what are they retaining in the here and now? Will they remember that I yelled this morning? That I’ve forgotten to give them something they asked for for lunch? That I like to sleep or that I seem to have forsaken the older two for the teeny tiny boy?
Before having children I don’t think I thought much about what it takes to actually successfully raise a child, let alone three. There are so many hidden, yet to be discussed components. Forget all the stuff no one tells you about being pregnant. There is more that they don’t say about when the kid is actually here! No one tells you you won’t likely pee alone more than once a day (because your new shadow is finally napping). No one tells you that a fever of 103 will have you bathing a toddler in cool water in the middle of the night, praying to the Tylenol gods for relief. No one tells you that peas thrown into your eye can burn if you rub or that sweet potatoes in your hair harden like paste really quickly. Most importantly, regardless of the marriage model you have, no one tells you how to get along with the person you have chosen to have these children with. Even your mama will likely not tell you that there are times when you will want to set your husband ablaze, jail be damned.
I find it difficult to explain just how badly I want the kids to think back fondly about their childhood. Interestingly, I wrote “girls” at first, not kids. I want them to remember smiles and hugs and encouragement and chances and congratulations. I want them to remember boundaries though and discipline and late night talks and you can do its and I love yous whispered repeatedly until they giggle with embarrassment. Remember seeing Daddy and me dance and laugh at private, grown up jokes, watch the way we treat each other with respect even through disagreement and know that they should seek a mate who does the same. I know all of this is within my/our ability to create for them. I just wonder sometimes if we’re actually doing that and if that’s what they’re retaining.
It is my insecurity as a parent, I know. There is no manual that covers every possibility. We are making our way through child rearing blindly. Some days I think: I’ve got this. That was the right answer, score one for Mom. Stick a note in their lunch bags: have a great day; you’re #1; I love you; you rock! Then there are days when I’m wondering wow, who let me procreate? I’m screwing these little people up! Those days are few, thankfully. And I’m glad to have my other half have my back. But all the same, maybe I should just ask them more often how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking. Then perhaps I won’t have to guess and wonder whether they’re happy. Part of me wants to say they have food, shelter, and the ability to bathe — they should be happy! That is, of course, the unrealistic part of me.

What it comes down to is this: I am not my mother. I have to remember that my children are mine and the memories we are creating have nothing to do with the memories I have from childhood. Oh, how I want them to be happy. OK, so I need one of the people in my head to remind the others to repeat this as needed.

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