Do you ever wonder that you’re ruining your kid? Me too. I get all pessimistic and think they’ll only remember the rough days, the days when I said no to what they really wanted because I had to hold them accountable for their poor choices. I think that all those crafty Pinterest moms are making all the memories because they have something super tangible for their kids to remember. And me? Well, let’s just say I can’t figure out any craft kit even for a 7 year old. I believe the lie that I have to give my kids these extravagant parties and vacations so they’ll have these really great experiences to remember their childhood by.
Well, kids, I’m probably going to fail you at giving you everything you want and the best of the best. And I’m learning that that’s okay.
My parents are coming in to visit pre-Christmas to celebrate. I asked my mom if she wanted to help bake sugar cookies while she’s here, as I need to make them for a party. For some reason, I was really hoping she’d want to but didn’t want her to feel obligated if she already felt she had enough “on her plate” while she’s here (we have 3 kids so you know that’s a lot in and of itself for grandparents sometimes, coupled with some things I know she wants to do with them already while she’s here). I got to thinking and realized I desired that time with her because it was something we always did growing up. I have really fond memories of making cookies with my mom and want it to continue and to pass it down.
The other night, I got a Charlie horse. Ever had one? They’re so flippin’ painful. This is the first one I’ve had in a long time and the first one during this pregnancy. It always happens in the middle of the night. And that’s how it was even for me as a kid. I remember having them and screaming for my Dad to come and help me (not that he could do much, I’m now realizing). He always willingly came in, without fussing to me about how I woke him up, and just stayed with me until it was gone. Then he’d remind me to keep eating bananas and we’d go back to sleep. Now my husband has taken over that role of course but every time it happens, I remember my Dad being there to comfort me, making sure I knew I wasn’t going to die (because my pain tolerance is, well, almost non-existent).
My childhood wasn’t anything extravagant. My parents didn’t have a ton of money but they had what they needed and we as kids had what we needed. They spent a lot on my dance lessons and we’d take more regional vacations (we lived in Massachusetts so we’d stay in the New England area for any trips). I don’t remember doing any crazy crafts with my mom or having elaborate parties. I had a sleepover for each birthday party and we always had ice cream cake. We’d have popcorn and ice cream for dinner some nights, watching TV together (often times it was “Friends” as I got older which may explain why I enjoy that show so much even though it’s not exactly the most family-friendly haha). When winter storms hit, as they often do in New England, my mom and I would team up and take shifts with my Dad and brother to shovel the driveway (they have since gotten a snow blower–wise investment, guys). It was hard work but it was so nice to have company and then to go inside to hot chocolate made by those who weren’t shoveling during that shift. I have fond memories of going to my uncle’s house for card nights where we kids couldn’t play until we were older but we could all watch or play together and eat all the candy. We’d go to my aunt’s house and have game nights and oh how I miss those. And I remember so well just walking over to my Grammy’s house, finding cookies in her cookie jar, and sitting and chatting, pretending I knew how to play the piano, and looking at her porcelain dolls (she used to make and sell them).
None of that is all that Pinterest-worthy. I honestly don’t have any memories of anything mind-blowing, beyond going white water rafting a few times (that is normally not my thing but if you haven’t done it you really should–it was so fun). It was lots of experiential stuff but nothing that was over-the-top. And I wonder sometimes if we place these expectations on ourselves to make every day a great day, thinking our kids will only remember the yelling, the “I said no” moments, the chores, the homework . . . so we try to make up for it. But the reality is, they need all the discipline just as much as they need the love and the love we give them doesn’t have to be in terms of material items and grand experiences. They simply need US. As part of a book launch, I’m reading Raising Grateful Kids by Kristen Welch and in it she says:
Truth, people. Solid truth. The extra stuff can be great. I’m not saying we deprive our kids if we have the means to lavish some love on them in tangible ways. But we don’t have to do it all the time or give them everything they think they need. They don’t need a perfect, every-day-is-a-magical-day life. I want them to find joy in the every day . . . in the seemingly mundane. I want them to be grateful and have sweet memories and not feel entitled to bigger, better, and more. My parents did a great job of keeping that in check. I know they did their best for me, loved me, and I have some really good memories from my childhood as a result. No parent is perfect and no parent can give a child a fairy tale day every single day. So let’s take a deep breath together and let the unrealistic expectations go. Let’s focus on what truly matters when it comes to what we can give our kids: our love.
I’d love to hear about your childhood and your take on this. Was your childhood similar to mine or more extravagant? What is your take on all this now if you’re a parent or caregiver?