Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on May 29, 2013.
My husband and I are getting a kick out of watching Everybody Loves Raymond on Netflix. Not only is the show’s audience geared to families with young children such as ours, we have quite a bit in common with Raymond’s family, including having in-laws of European descent.
Recently we watched an episode when the overworked and exasperated wife of Raymond yells at him for not spending enough time with the kids. She tells him that he should be part of their children’s childhood memories and ends her lecture by yelling, “Put those golf clubs down and make some damn memories!”
Moms desperately want what’s best for our kids, but we aren’t always able to live up to the ideal mom who never gets frustrated and never yells. Sometimes I worry about the mom that my children will remember.
Will they remember me as a cheerful mom who liked to play Trouble, create scavenger hunts and paint pictures with them? Will they remember me as the mom who was hopeless in the kitchen and heated up frozen pizza more than I care to admit? Will they remember a tired, grumpy mom, or worse, a mom who kept saying, “I’ll be there in a minute,” but really took fifteen minutes to finish her work on the computer.
“You’re always on the computer,” my son said once. Ouch.
Then I tried to think back to my childhood. Don’t I have good memories? I vividly remember the bad things like my parent’s divorce or losing friends at school who found buddies they thought made a better friend than me. Where are my good memories? My tired brain searched. Why is it so much easier to remember the bad stuff?
But then I found them, smiling behind the murky clouds of a normal kid’s up and down life.
I remember my mom buying me a pet parakeet, and I named him Bo. We kept his cage in the corner of the sunroom, and I tried to teach him how to say “hello.”
Sometimes my mom would let me bring him into the master bedroom where we’d lay on my parent’s king size bed to watch T.V. together. We’d let him fly free through the room, and he loved to sit up on the chain of a hanging lamp. Then we would pat the bed, and say, “Come here. Come here.” He would fly down to the bed and prance around between us.
I was never able to teach him how to say “hello,” but he learned to say “come here.” He lived for 12 years too.
I also remember my mother tickling me on that giant bed, and I remember listening to her read Helen Keller. I remember the afternoon she picked me up from school and handed me a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends, which she bought just for me because she knew I loved it.
I also remember my mom warming my jackets by an electric heater before I walked out into the freezing Colorado snow to catch the bus, and I remember the extra special prom dresses that she spent way too much money on, but I appreciated that so much.
I can remember not understanding why my mom would sigh so much every time I interrupted her (oh I understand now!), but I also remember her smile.
Nowadays I try to remember not to beat myself up when my son complains that I’m not at his beckon call. After all, he tends to forget that I spend several hours with him and his brother every morning doing school or his self-initiated projects or sometimes playing games.
He forgets that I often spend the evenings outside with him in the garden and watching him play and that every night I lay with him for half an hour to chat and tell stories. He doesn’t know that usually when I’m at my computer I’m either planning or recording our days together.
When he’s an adult, I’m hoping his long-term memory will be better than his short-term memory is now. I don’t want him to remember me as a perfect mom, but I hope he’ll think back and remember that I tried my best, and I liked cooking up a lot of fun too.
How do you think your children will remember you?