04.12.2016

It’s the simple stuff they’ll remember.

When I was growing up, my teacher mom had summers off – one of the few trade-offs of being under-appreciated and underpaid the rest of the year. As far as I’m concerned, teachers are at the same level as brain surgeons or saints. I remember *loving* summers because it meant camping, and blueberry picking, and bike-riding, and late night slumber parties with popcorn and milkshakes galore.

There are a few memories that stand out to me every time I think about my childhood. These don’t just stand out to me when I think about “summer when I was a kid,” but when I think about my entire childhood. Here’s what they involve:

My parents did stuff when I was a kid. They didn’t wait until they had exactly the right camping gear, or for exactly the right weather, or until they had a comfortable amount of savings in the bank.

Campfires.

Blueberry picking.

Lake Goodwin.

Bubble Gum Ice Cream.

Slip & Slides.

I could go into detail about each of these memories, but that’s not what this is about.

It’s about this: my parents did stuff when I was a kid. They didn’t wait until they had exactly the right camping gear, or for exactly the right weather, or until they had a comfortable amount of savings in the bank. Did we fly to Disneyland or Hawaii every year? No. But we explored Washington State and the Oregon Coast like nobody’s business.

I can’t tell you the number of times my parents said we were going to go on a “drive” growing up. What this usually involved was an escape from our middle-class neighborhood somewhere significantly north, south, east or west of us. We’d end up in a small-ish town, explore the highlights, read any historical markers that we might see along the way, and grab a bite to eat. It was simple.

So many of my best memories are memories of pretty simple days.

Now that I am a parent, I often find myself feeling a subtle pressure to “create memories” for my kids. I see amazing birthday decor on Pinterest, Facebook pictures of the annual-trip-to-such-and-such for the holidays, and talk to other parents about which activities they are enrolling their kids in and I think to myself, “I need to get on the ball. I’m so behind!” And this is saying something, because those who know me know that for the most part, I am a planner.

My thirties has brought on a deep sense of nostalgia. Reflecting on my own treasure chest of childhood memories takes a certain pressure off my own shoulders, because I’m reminded that it’s the simple stuff that my kids are going to remember. It’s saying yes to ice cream after school. It’s turning the sprinkler on, even though you dread the tiny, wet, grassy footprints dredged through the house afterwards. It’s going on that drive, destination unknown, knowing that the house is a mess.

We can’t force memories onto our kids. But what we can do instead is embrace the small opportunities – not all-of-the-time, but some-of-the-time – to do stuff. One of those things, at least, will be stored away in their treasure chest of memories forever.

What’s in yours?

About Erin

I’m a thirty-something, coffee-loving mom of two living in a funky neighborhood in Seattle….all while seeking a balance between keeping up and slowing down.

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