Today, I took Grace out to run some errands. I try to have something fun for us to do each day. Although every day can’t be swim class or story hour, I try for something simple like buying a doughnut at the bakery or taking a few extra minutes to see the little fish swimming around their tanks at Meijer. Nothing crazy, just something different from the day before.
When we got home after three or four very uneventful stops, I was washing her hands in the bathroom and she leaned her tired head back on me and said, “Mommy, I had so much fun. I love you.”
“I love you, too, Gracie,” I said with a laugh. Seriously, kid? We went to the UPS store, the grocery store and the library. And then I had one of those moments of clarity that left me with chills. Something so simple, but when I thought of it this way, I was humbled by the truth of it. Childhood isn’t for our kids. It’s for parents. Gracie will never remember these days of being two years old and all the amazingly awesome things I have tried to pack into our days. She won’t even remember how much she loves me in just a few more years. We’ll be fighting over when she can be on social media and why she can’t go to the mall alone.
These very patience-trying years of raising small children are not our test. They are our JOY. We get to re-experience childhood by having our children. We get to understand love deeper than anything we’ve ever known before. These beautiful and sometimes boring memories we create aren’t for them; they won’t remember most of them. Think about it–do you remember being two and your parents making every day magical for you? All you probably recall from that time of your life is knowing that you were loved. God knows I don’t remember much of anything from my childhood. My memories don’t become very vivid until adolescence and by then the memories aren’t all that pretty.
So does that mean we should stop trying to do these wonderful things for our kids? I mean, what’s the point if they don’t know the difference anyway? I don’t think so. Because these are the memories we get to take with us into old age. These are the days we will cling to when we look back on all our decades before and wonder, “Was it worth it? Did I live enough? Did I love enough?” We won’t recall our childhood years, those memories will have faded. But we will remember our children’s childhood.
As I laid Gracie down for her nap, I tried to make the kiss I planted on her forehead stick a little harder. But not for her. For me.
Since she was a baby, Gracie has sucked on her muslin blankets. We bought these Aden and Anais blankets when she was a newborn and used them to swaddle her. I loved them because they were these big soft blankets that weren’t too thick and perfect for the warmer months when she was a baby. And I could use them to cover myself when I had to nurse her. When she began teething at three months old, she took sections of them, shoved them into her mouth and would use them as a sort of pacifier. Scott and I were thrilled because it meant we’d never have to pry an actual pacifier away from her like we did for the boys. Plus we had multiple blankets this way! Not like the boys’ very specific ones that can never be replaced. This has been ideal when we’ve been hit with sickness or spills happen. Grace always has a back up! And really, what was the harm? A tiny section of cloth used to self-soothe? We saw no issue. Until now.
Grace will be three in May. She has developed a slight overbite. Some people have suggested that it may have something to do with her blanket. It’s hard to say. Both Scott and I had overbites as children, so maybe it’s just genetics…? Anyway, it can’t be helping the situation. And we know all three of our kids will likely have braces in the future.The boys have a ton of crowding and all of them have very large teeth (Sorry, guys!)
So we decided last night to try taking her blanket away. She cried, a lot. My original plan was to wait until she turns three and then try negotiating her blanket away with a new toy. Scott just figured we should do it now cold-turkey. We “compromised” (which in this case was more me railroading Scott) and told her she could sleep with her blanket, but she couldn’t put it in her mouth. She actually tried very hard; we watched her on the baby monitor as she wiggled around her bed trying to get comfortable until about ten o’clock, rubbing the satin tag of her blanket against her nose but not putting the blanket into her mouth. She did fall asleep without it in her mouth! Of course at some point she forgot in the night. When I went to wake her up this morning, she had the blanket shoved in her mouth again.
Now it’s Monday. The boys are back to school after Easter Break. Grace and I are back to being just us girls. We had a fun morning of playing at the grocery store (“What color are lemons? Can you find any circles?”). She charmed herself a free cookie from the lady at the bakery counter and then we came home to have lunch and have her take her nap. As I put her to bed, I told her to try her very hardest not to put “blankey” in her mouth. She looked at me with her round blue eyes and said in all seriousness, “Just pretend you’re not home.”