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.