My daughters had a blue bouncy seat. When they were babies, I’d strap them in it when I took a shower, folded laundry, or chopped vegetables for dinner. As they grew older, the seat converted to a rocking chair. I hold vivid memories of my firstborn kicking back in that chair with a stack of board books on the floor beside her, turning page after page of Brown Bear and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
She loved that chair.
Which is why I was kind of surprised when she asked me last week, “Mom, did my sister have a bouncy seat when she was little?”
“Yes, sweetheart.” I crinkled my eyebrows. “You both did.”
“What color was it?”
“Blue. Don’t you remember?”
Huh. Of course she hadn’t seen the seat in a couple years at least, since we donated it beyond our household. But still, my heart sank a little. Because I realized that a memory so deeply ingrained in my mind was blank in hers.
And it dawned on me—there must be others. How many memories do I hold dear, which my children do not share? Of course they don’t remember their own baby days. They might only vaguely recall toddlerhood. In a few years, they may not remember today.
Ouch. Day after day, my daughters and I are shaping the puzzle pieces of their childhood, yet they will never assemble the full picture the way I can. It seems like somebody gets cheated in this deal, right? Either my kids—because they won’t fathom their younger selves the way I do. Or me—because, well, what’s the point? If my girls won’t recall all the mommy sweat I invest in them—the lunch box notes, the UNO games, the dinosaur-shaped toast—does my daily effort really matter?
So what if our kids won’t see it.
They will feel it.
And they will know it.
These memories, which to me construct the whole of my experience as a parent, are to my children not so much mental images as a general understanding of what it means to be loved. To feel secure. Special. Cherished.
I see a pony ride at Disney World. They will remember how their parents carved time and attention and desired to bring them joy.
I see a monkey-face chocolate birthday cake with grandparents seated around the table. My kids will remember how family was a priority, and birthdays were marked as blessings from God.
I see a growing girl twisting friendship bracelets and fumbling novice fingers through a knitting loom. She will remember how her mother encouraged creativity, affirmed her interests, and granted freedom to make mistakes.
What about you? What do you see? All these memories we hold close, whether precious or ordinary, orchestrated or unplanned—they all have one thing in common.
They make an impact.
“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts” (Psalm 103:17–18).
Ten or twenty years from now, our children may not recall the details. But they will possess the virtues we poured into them along the way. They’ll know without a doubt how we loved them. And, God willing, they will remember and share our love for Jesus—thanks to all those years we showed them how to love Jesus, too.
“Mom, are you sure the chair was blue?” My seven-year-old cocked her head toward me. “I thought my sister had a yellow bouncy seat.”
Huh? I rewound a few years. Oh, yeah . . .
“You’re right, lovey.” I nodded slowly. “Your seat was blue. Hers was yellow. We bought a new bouncy chair for your sister because you were still using yours when she was born. You are absolutely right. How did I forget that?”
My daughter giggled. “It’s okay, Mom. Lucky for you, I have a good memory.”
I get to stock that memory with faith, hope, and love.
Because I’m a mom; therefore, I matter.
And so do you.
Lisa notes says
I remember a disheartening conversation I had with my teenage daughter when she didn’t remember all the sweet books we read together over and over when she was little. But yes, they still mattered. The time we spent together was glue not only in the present but also for the future that we’re now living in. Specific memories aren’t everything; love threads through them in bigger ways.
Agreed, Lisa! Love threads through them. I love that.
What a great reminder. I firmly believe that what we focus on grows and if we focus on the feelings of love, safety, kindness, etc, those experience will grow and be remembered in our children’s lives. Thanks for sharing. Visiting from Messy Marriage!
Thank you for stopping by from Beth’s place, Hannah. I really like the way you put it – what we focus on grows. So true!
My husband and I talk about this all the time … how it feels like we’ve been in the parenting trenches for half a decade …. and the kids will not remember one second of those early years. I’m not even sure what they’ll remember now that they’re a bit older. But I do know that every experience will build them up.
Absolutely, Jenn! We have so many opportunities to build them up. Whether or not they remember the details is almost irrelevant. Blessings!
This is so sweet! I know my kids don’t remember things that are very dear to me, but I love the idea that they remember the feeling those moments gave them.
Love and hugs – they add up, I’m convinced!
As my boys have grown into young men, I find myself telling them stories (ad nauseam) about their childhoods, just in case they forgot–which most of them claim they have. I find it such a joy to remember those earlier days for both myself and them. Now my oldest is about to get engaged and I find myself telling her stories (ad nauseam) so she’ll have a picture that is painted by my (probably faded and incorrect) memories. With that said, I’m so glad that you made this point too, because I think I take it for granted that they see the past like I do. You are so right, Becky. It is quite different for each of us, but still a point in which we feel the “ties binding” us together whether the memory is accurate or not. Happy New Year, my sweet friend!
Your son is nearly engaged?? She is one blessed young lady to get a mother-in-law like you, Beth. My girls love to hear stories of what they were like when they were babies. We’ll see if they still feel that way in another 10 or 15 years. 🙂 Happy new year!
Allison B says
I’m amazed at what random kids can remember and what they forget. We loved when my kids were 3 and 5 and none of them remember our old house. Even in pictures they forgot it was our house. I couldn’t believe it! But then they remember getting hot chocolate on their birthday 2 years ago.
Crazy, right? My fear is they’ll forget the hot chocolate but remember the day mom was grumpy with them. But, love covers a multitude of sins.
Anna Hettick says
I think about things like this too. I wonder just how much and what they are going to remember. That’s why this year (and hopefully every year following) I want to make a priority to be there, really be there for them, not constantly shuffling everyone here and there and being so busy we get no quality family time.
Hi, Anna! I hear you… to live in the moment with our kids. It’s something I’m intentional about, too, and especially aware when I’m NOT doing it. I struggle sometimes. What a fantastic priority you’ve set for your family. I always love hearing from you!
Richella Parham says
I love this, Becky! You are lucky she has such a good memory. 🙂
Thanks for sharing this at Grace at Home. I’m featuring you this week!
Oh, I loved this one. I just came back to read it a second time. And you’ll laugh, and that’s okay: I’m still a new enough mom that I hadn’t actually thought through the fact that my kids wouldn’t remember the 7,000 details of daily life that I’m involved in–sometimes in a superstar way, and sometimes in more of the villain role. I can’t say I was thinking they would remember–I just hadn’t even thought of this yet. So, poo for bringing it prematurely to my attention–I was still in IN THE MOMENT OF MOTHERHOOD blissful ignorance. But I’d rather get that 2×4 in the face over with and hear that awesome message of how the mommy sweat I spend doesn’t create mental images but a deeply felt understanding of why it matters that they’re my kiddos. And of infinitely more importance, why it matters that God loves them and wants them with Him. (You didn’t need me to repeat to you what you wrote–writing it out is my way of branding into my brain.) THANKS!!! Love and hugs from Africa!
I’m laughing WITH you, Leah! Just the past couple of weeks I’ve been hit over the head myself by all the discussions I’ve been having with my four-year-old about “remember this?” and “remember that” and she has NO recollection, sometimes of things that happened just six months ago. But I rest in knowing my smiley-face toast and endless story book reading and trips to the library will somehow all add up in my girls’ minds and hearts to a doubtless sense of love and security, knowing they were raised by two parents who loved them and God. Hugs across the ocean!