What Makes A Childhood

One thing becoming a mom has changed for me is that I think about the value of memories even more than I used to, and maybe after having children I have a tendency to put too much emphasis on it.  Of course we always carry memories with us - they are part of what makes us who we are.  But when Wyatt got big enough to start actually remembering things that happened to him, it produced a lot of anxiety for me.  I wanted to provide him with good memories!  I wanted to do all the things! I felt like a failure when a memory turned out to be less than stellar, or when we couldn't do this or that.

Like Disney World.  This last year everyone and their mother seemed to be going to Disney World, and I started to wonder if my kids would be deprived of something important if we never make it there.

Over the last few months though, my attitude has started to change on this a bit.  I still think memories are important, and I work toward trying to give my children good memories.  But I think the more I slow down and remember my own childhood, the more I realize that a happy childhood doesn't have to be made of big memorable moments.  Some of my favorite memories with my mom and dad were just times when we did ordinary things together.  

When you are a kid, having mom and dad join in with your activities makes them so much more fun.

I vividly remember when I was in elementary school, my mom and dad joined in with our game of hide and seek one day.  But instead of just hiding, they changed up the game.  If it was mom's turn to hide, she would take each of us kids and tuck us away in different spots throughout the house...and then my dad had to be the one to find us!  They came up with the best hiding spots, places that we kids couldn't possibly reach by ourselves.  My dad hid me on the top shelf of the closet.  My mom hid us behind the TV stand.  It was so hard not to giggle when I knew I was getting close to being found.  

I try to think about things like that when I'm considering how to make good memories for my kids...because as fun as a trip to Disney World is, things like hide-and-seek can be just as memorable, and just as fun.  (And these things are free.)

I was thinking about this yesterday.  The little three were down for a nap (and they were actually sleeping, which is rare these days), and Derek and I were on the couch reading while Wyatt worked with his Legos.  He sat over there, silently laboring over his Lego boat.  He asked me to come help him figure out how to make it into the shape he wanted, and I have to tell you right now, my Lego skills leave much to be desired.  After doing what I could, I mentioned that we might have to ask Daddy to come help us figure it out, because he is better at Legos than me.

I started googling how to make a boat out of Legos, and Derek came over to see what I found.  He and Wyatt declared the plans I found to be "boring", and Derek sat down with Wyatt and started to sort through the Legos.  Wyatt bounced in his seat as Derek started helping him form the base of the boat.

"Wow, that's perfect!  Dad, you're really smart at Legos!"

They built a pretty impressive boat together, complete with a hook to haul things out of the water and a movable ramp.  Wyatt declared it a "rescue boat", and he's been carrying it around with him ever since.

I stood their in the kitchen and watched my husband and oldest son building a boat together, and I just thought, this is it.  This is what makes a happy childhood.  It's not these big, extravagant offerings that I so often worry that our kids will not experience. (Because hello, we have five kids.  Disney World vacations are likely not in our future, at least not anytime soon).  

No, kids need far less than we often think to be happy.  It's these little moments, when we parents take a minute to slow down and step into our kids' worlds.  To show them our love by giving them our time and attention in the little things.  To make an ordinary game, an ordinary interest that much more exciting because we're willing to join in.  It's enough to make a child's day.  Maybe even enough to make their whole childhood.

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Natalie@She Builds Her Home said...

I SO agree with this and love that you wrote about it! We love taking trips and we do often, but I think you're absolutely right that it is the ordinary little things that make the biggest memories. My husband has SO many awesome memories like the ones you've described, and has made it a point to give our children a childhood like he had. I have good memories of trips as a child, but I have even more memories of random every day things. My parents are divorced and generally my dad was able to take us on bigger vacations (Disney, cruises, etc.) but we loved the camping trips to Yellowstone and Mesa Verde, and the sand dunes that my mom took us on just as much and they were certainly just as memorable! Every time we talk about doing a Disneyworld trip (which we will probably do at some point b/c my dad & step mom have a time share there so our lodging would be free which would significantly cut back on the expense of it) I feel like it just can't live up to the hype. We went when I was 10 and I remember parts of it but not a ton and I know I liked it, but I have way more vivid memories of other things that don't have as much "hype". Definitely food for thought! Thanks for writing this, Callie!

Meghan said...

I loved reading this post. I have enjoyed so many of your posts lately. I apologize for not always commenting. I am usually reading on my phone with one hand free while the other holds my pumping gear in place. Ha!
I know you are a huge reader. This post reminded me so much of one of my favorite reads, Mitten Strings for God. I think you would love it. I reread it each year around the holidays and it always reminds me to slow down and soak in these moments with our kids while they're young. I am sure you'd love it, too. Add it to your list of reads. xo

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