I Don’t Know If My Kids’ Memories Of Me Will Be Happy

I often wonder what my children will remember about me when they are older. It is a strange sensation to know that I will take up in their mind the same sort of space reserved in my memory for my own mother. I think about her often now that I am a mom myself, picking out and reexamining the notions I developed as a child, and wondering what I got wrong along the way.

I keep going back to my memories of her, rolling them over in my head to find the constants. I remember her always being there, that she was an unshakeable presence in my life. I remember her always buying pizza bagels and corndogs for sleepovers with friends. I remember her being at every event. I remember she made me and my friends laugh. My memories are mostly happy.

I wonder if my children will be able to say the same thing. I am there, I buy the snacks, I go to the events, but do I make them laugh? Am I happy? Are they?

The truth is, even though I may fall into bed at night feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for my life and my children, my day-to-day actions don’t always show it. I am happy at a deep, soulful level, but on the surface I’m a picture of frazzled exhaustion.

As much as I try to stay happy and keep my parenting behavior in check, I feel like I fail, often. I yell, sometimes before we even get out the door for school in the morning. I feel like motherhood keeps me constantly hanging at the end of my rope. I snap when someone asks for snack while I’m making dinner. I am impatient when they insist on putting on their shoes or buckling their seatbelts, knowing that I will have to swoop in and do it for them when they eventually give up. I’ll get too busy to take them to the park or read them the book they were holding up while I was elbow deep in dishes. It’s hard to switch gears and be the happy-go-lucky mom when there are so many things competing for my attention.

Happiness is easy to come by when I have a moment to step back and appreciate the life that is in front of me, but motherhood keeps me nose-to-nose with the mundane details. I forget to play and be silly because my attention never feels fully present with them. There is always laundry to do, toys scattered across the house, writing to be done, emails to be answered. Even when I know these aren’t the priorities that I want at the top of my list, it is hard to step away from them. It is hard to find that perspective.

But when I see my children growing up before my eyes, I know that somehow I have to. I don’t want my children to remember me as a mom who was always stressed out. I don’t want to be the kind of mother who always told them they needed to wait a minute because I was busy doing a chore or writing an email. I don’t want to miss their childhood while I’m standing right next to them, because I can’t take a step back and see how good I have it.

It’s easier said than done. Waking up grumpy and being short with my kids at breakfast can sour the whole day, no matter how hard I try to bounce back from it. I will make a note in my planner not to yell, and it will still sometimes happen. I can say screw the housework and spend a blissful day focusing solely on my children, but then I spend the next day overwhelmed by everything that fell by the wayside. Finding that balance is difficult, maybe impossible, but I won’t quit trying, because happiness is worth fighting for.

I don’t know what my children’s memories of me will be. I can’t say what will stick out in their minds and what will fade into oblivion. It’s not up to me. It’s not within my control. So instead, I want to make sure I can look back someday and remember the times that they were happy, because I was happy too.


Image Source