As parents, we spend our lives trying to be good enough. Trying to keep up. We worry that we’ve failed. We worry that we’ve screwed up our kids to the point of no return because somehow we’ve not been good enough…as parents. But let me explain something.
Our children will not remember their childhood the way we think they will.
They won’t remember if your hair was doing that ‘woohoo’ thing at their Christmas concert. They will remember that when they entered the gym, their eyes scanned the bleachers and locked with yours.
They won’t notice if they found their cereal bowl in the cupboard or in the dishwasher or even if they had to wash it themselves once in a while. They will remember that on Sundays, you made happy face pancakes.
They won’t have a clue that one Christmas you were flat broke and they got fewer toys. They will remember that you made them a quilt out of old t-shirts and they will use it to swaddle their own children.
They will not remember that you cleaned and scrubbed while they were playing outside. They will remember that once you knelt in the dirt pile and vroomed Hotwheels with them all afternoon.
They will not see the holes in their jeans, care about mismatched socks, or remember what brand of purse you carried. They will remember the smell of daddy’s t-shirt he let them wear to bed…long after he’s gone.
They won’t remember going to the theater with friends. They will remember being pressed against your thigh on the couch, watching a movie, one hand in the popcorn bowl.
They won’t remember that you didn’t hike as fast as they did. They will remember that you climbed to the top of the steepest mountain, just to show them the view.
They will never recall the smell of the fancy dinners you prepared on the holidays. They will remember every single hotdog they cooked over an open fire and the way you knew they didn’t like mustard.
They won’t care if their bed was never made or that the blanket didn’t match their curtains. They will remember the way it felt when you tucked the blankets around them and called them a burrito baby.
They will not care what you looked like in a swim suit. They will remember that you went on the field trip to the pool anyway and were the one parent who didn’t sit to the side and watch.
They will not have lifelong damage from mud overdose. They will remember the way the ooze felt between their toes and the look on your face when you found them…and joined in.
SO step away from the dishes. Leave that pile of laundry on the couch, forget about homework once in a while. Unclench your jaw and relax. That’s what I’m going to try to do.
Because when I am old and I am gray, and I cannot do the things that I can do today…my children will not remember that my dishes were foul. My children will remember that I could run…I could whoop…and I could howl.