Do you ever worry about how your children will remember you when they are all grown up?
Are you portraying yourself as the person you want them to mirror and respect? Or will you be remembered as a crazy woman who cooks, launders, nags and is obsessed with the occasional lie-in?
Joking aside, the things your kids will remember about you are what will shape them into the type of adults they become. Your morals, values, actions and reactions are being watched and learned by your little ones every single day.
Not only will this shape their future, but it will create the memory bank of mum.
I remember taking my young teen out of school to a weekly health appointment. Our routine was that I would sit in the adjacent cafe and work, and she would meet me there. I have an online business which means I can work anywhere. This has allowed us to live flexible, travel-filled lives ... but wherever we go, I'm always on my laptop. This particular day, when she walked into the cafe, I said:
"Your memory of me as a mum will be me glued to a laptop wherever we are."
To which she replied, without skipping a beat:
"No Mum, my memory will be of you always being there."
I bring this up because, if you are reading the article, you might be worried about how your child or children think about you and how they will remember you. And it's likely it will be very different from how you think.
This article reminds you that your children simplify their memories of mum. They don't remember the complex things. Instead, they reminisce about the more superficial but equally special moments.
Here are some of the things that your child might remember about you.
10 Things your kids will remember about you
1. Your quirky sayings
I don’t know about you, but there are some weird and wonderful statements that came out of my own parent’s mouths.
I am still utterly confused by the saying ‘a wigwam for a goose’s bridal’. And, I was disappointed on many occasions when I heard the line ‘I’m going to see a man about a dog’ ... which devastatingly never resulted in a new puppy.
Yet, I am constantly coming out with quirky sayings myself such as the old ‘stop carrying on like a pork chop’. (What does that even mean?) Or, ‘you don’t need sugar on your breakfast, you are already sweet enough’.
Know that your funny little saying will stay with them forever and they will likely use with their own children. Think of them as verbal family heirlooms.
2. Your musical genius … or lack thereof
You know the songs you blast while cooking dinner and the tunes you sing to in the car? These will be remembered by your little ones in the future, so make your song choices repetitive and your voice as loud and out of tune as possible.
Then, there are the songs we all make up to make life a little more interesting. ‘You will, you will … eat it’ to the tune of We Will Rock You.
My kids always get the giggles when I sing instead of speak. I know one day they will appreciate the effort it takes to keep up with a beat while maintaining a conversation.
3. The superhero lift from car to bed
You know the one. And let's face it, the 'superhero lift from car to bed' made bedtime way more exciting. Maybe your little one didn't wake up on purpose just to experience it! (Or they were just really tired).
The joy of being cradled in your arms, their very own supermum carrying them to safety, is a memory that will be etched in their minds forever.
I often wish I could still take a nap in the car and get carried straight to bed!
4. Your special nicknames for them
When I was a little girl, my dad used to call me by a stinky nickname. I used to hate it, but now that I'm a grown-up, I realise that it was his term of endearment for me.
I guess it's hereditary because now I also give my son quirky (but cute) nicknames, too.
As our kids grow up, there will come a phase (hello, teenage years) when they cringe at the thought of being called 'Pumpkin Pie' in front of their friends. But deep down, they know that it is your unique way of saying, 'You're my favourite human.'
5. Kids will remember your advice
When your child is facing a conflicting situation, or even if they have one of those awkward questions, your advice may very well just stick with them for life.
When you tell your children ‘you don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you do have to be friendly’ it may help them be part of a team with conflicting personalities.
Telling them ‘tomorrow is a new day and a new chance’ will teach them it’s never too late to make a change.
But, most importantly, by offering your children an ear when they need it, they will always know they can come to you when they need to talk, regardless of whether they are 5 or 50.
Things your kids will remember about you (cont.)
6. Those little white lies
When Christmas comes around and you are tightening the purse strings to afford an Xbox, knowing Santa will get all the credit.
Of course, credit comes in the forms of their squeals and smiles, but if you are allowed to tell a white lie about Santa – who is to say you can’t ‘trick’ your kids in other ways.
Example: It was a battlefield every night to get my son to brush his teeth and for his own benefit I invented tooth sticks. Paddle pop sticks which ‘know’ whether you have brushed your teeth or not when you put them in your mouth.
Teeth brushing = success. When your kids grow up they are sure to contemplate whether such things were real.
7. Kids will remember time spent together
When you take your kids on holidays you are creating lifelong memories. Many of us can’t always afford to go on trips but there are ways you can still make these memories without leaving your suburb.
Some days I tell my kids we are going on a secret adventure, and find a new park to explore or splash around at the beach.
Or, going for a walk with them and exploring the neighbourhood while talking about what is on their mind.
Even on a rainy day, making time to sit down with a jigsaw puzzle or watching a movie with your children is time spent together. It all comes into the category of the things your kids will remember about you.
8. Your sense of humour
Your children will always remember the silly things you did to make them laugh. Whether intentionally or not.
Like that time you accidentally used dishwashing detergent instead of olive oil. Or the time you accidentally walked into your car and chipped a tooth and laughed at yourself.
Then there are the times when you write their name on a banana just so you can say ‘there’s a banana there with your name on it’. Your kids might not remember every funny thing you say or do, but they will remember growing up in a house of laughter.
9. Your praise and encouragement
My daughter used to love to tell stories, especially about stuff that happens at school. And boy, how she loved talking about them again and again (and again).
Despite hearing her little adventures for the 50th time, I make sure to listen and respond as if I heard them for the first time. I encouraged her to narrate his tales as honestly as she could and praise her whenever appropriate.
By doing these things, our kids will remember us as someone with whom they can be comfortable and be themselves. Someone who will not judge them for showing emotions or conveying their opinions. Someone who will cheer for them no matter how big or small their achievement is.
10. How much you love them
Out of all the things kids remember, the most important is knowing you always loved them. It doesn’t take much, it could be your hugs, the words ‘I love you’ or the way you took care of them when they were sick.
Knowing they are loved is one thing they will always cherish.
Two bonus memories because I can't stop at ten
When you aren’t afraid to be embarrassed for them
They will remember the time you rode the rollercoaster with them even though you were scared and screamed like a banshee.
They will remember the time you climbed up the play equipment to get them down because they were scared. And, the times you joined in with them and went down the slippery slide.
They will remember those times you stopped being a grown-up and played like a kid.
The kitchen is the heart and soul of the home and the place where your family can share their day and connect with one another.
One of the things kids will remember is their favourite meal growing up. Mine was tuna mornay and as easy as it sounds in theory .. I still cannot master it like my mum did.
My summary of things your kids will remember about you
I'm sure you know this by now - raising a kid (or two, or three) is not a walk in the park.
And we are not perfect parents. We lose our temper and raise our voices at them, along with all the other parenting mishaps we deal with every day. Yes, we feel guilty for losing our cool sometimes (for me, most of the time).
There are times when I'm too busy with work so I feed my kids takeaway for dinner. I've been known to forget to wash their school uniform and leave dirty dishes on the side for a day or two.
Because of these moments, I fear that my kids might remember me as "the lazy mum who didn't cook and made them live in squalor."
Sure they will remember how you shouted at them to get out of their bed every morning, along with all the other oopsies you made.
But do you know what our kids will remember the most?
It's not the Instagram-perfect moments, but the messy, real ones. They will cherish and remember the fun times we spent with them. The valuable lessons we taught them. It's the spontaneous dance parties, the epic fails in the kitchen, and the victory dances at their school events ... all the quirky bits and pieces that make you "you."
Remember, the little things you do for them don't go unnoticed.
Most of our kids will grow up and become parents as well.
And in their memories, your Mummy mishaps and imperfections will be their guide through the wild ride of parenthood.
So embrace the messy times and let go of the guilt; and know that you're damn good parent.