Not long ago, I was driving alone in my car with a million things on my mind and something occurred to me. I don’t remember ever taking the traditional fall trip to the pumpkin patch to pick a pumpkin when I was young. The annual family trip to the pumpkin patch is a major staple on my list of things I must do with my kids! I remember going to Huber’s and enjoying the food, the petting zoo, etc., but it was usually a sporadic afternoon trip and I don’t think we ever picked a pumpkin from the patch. We certainly didn’t hold a massive family photo shoot documenting the day if we did it. This was mind blowing to me. I thought a little more and recalled that I never once made Christmas cookies with my mom. My mom is an amazing cook and holds family dinners often, but she hates to bake. Christmas cookies are another must do on my list of activities….how is it possible that I not only survived childhood, but in fact remember childhood fondly despite never having these must do experiences?!? I slowly realized that most of the things I thought were essential to having an amazing childhood are things my mom either didn’t do with me or are at least things I don’t remember doing.
Next my thoughts wondered to all of the things I do remember about my mom. We loved Christmas. We didn’t bake cookies, but I remember listening to The Chipmunks Christmas and Elvis on the record player as we decorated the entire house. I remember turning off the radio in the car and singing Christmas Carols together. I loved that she wrapped every single Christmas present separately no matter how small it was. It was amazing. We didn’t have huge birthday parties, but my mom always made our birthdays special. She had a way of making you feel like your birthday was a near national holiday. She always made our favorite meal, anything we wanted (even if it was tuna casserole that everyone else hated). I remember going for walks, visiting the park often, reading books before bed, being allowed to pick the radio station in the car, always having dinner together as a family, listening to stories about my grandfather who died when I was young and so much more.
We didn’t have a ton of money, we rarely had the newest toys or the coolest clothes and mom was far from crafty. Pinterest wasn’t around when my mom was raising me and my three siblings, but even if it was, I can bet you she wouldn’t have been on it. What my mom did have was love, and she had lots of it. I had an awesome childhood not because of the things I had or the things I did. I had an awesome childhood because it was filled with love. My mom was interested in me, she was invested in me and she showed me every day that I was important to her. I realize now that how I treat my kids and how I make them feel is what really counts the most. The list of fun activities to do and places to visit is all good and well, but its importance is of far less value than I originally suspected.
Sometimes I wonder what my kids will remember most about me when they’re grown. I like to think they’ll remember a certain funny voice I used when reading their favorite book, or maybe they’ll remember the obnoxious way I sing silly songs when getting ready for bed. I don’t know for sure what little piece of me they’ll carry with them in their hearts, but I do bet it will be something simple. Perhaps it will even be something I don’t even realize I do. Whatever it is, I have a hunch (or maybe a hope) that the thing they’ll cherish most will be something I did quietly out love as opposed to something I meticulously planned and photographed perfectly along the way.
So to all the moms reading, don’t worry about being crafty enough, clever enough or anything else you might be fretting about. Show love in the little things, cut yourself some slack and enjoy the ride.