Monday, May 25, 2015

Parenthood: Week 102 – The Things They Don’t Remember

“Don’t worry, it’s not like they will remember this when they are an adult.”

This is what we tell ourselves when something goes wrong and we feel guilt and regret about something that has occurred with our child. Most of what we do with babies and toddlers they don’t actually remember as adults. It’s important to remember this as we try our best as parents and inevitably make mistakes. Don’t freak out about small things not going as planned with your kid, because chances are at the time they don’t realize something is awry and they probably will not remember that moment.

This same idea is also used to justify not doing things for our kids. Why bother take a kid to Disneyland when they will not remember it? Why take them on a trip when they will have no memory of this experience? Save the money for a time later when they will actually be able to hold onto these memories in a meaningful way. Sometimes it’s important that we remind ourselves to not go overboard with a birthday party or a trip when your kids are young. Remembering the fact that they will have little memory of an event gets us to relax a little bit and be more present in the moment.

Do experiences in our lives only have value is they are remembered? That’s a pretty depressing thought when you think about it because most of the moments in our lives are not committed to memory permanently. I reject this notion that we place value on the moments in our lives based on our memories. Often experiences that leave lasting memories are significant in our lives but there’s a lot of moments that we don’t remember that have significant impact on who we are as human beings.

I don’t remember the first time my dad held me as a newborn and I don’t think Ollie will remember the first time I held him. However this is one of the most important moments in my own life and Ollie’s life. That moment, the devotion of a dad being there, present with love and care is not something to be taken for granted. It is in that moment a connection was formed that grew and sustains my relationship with my father and my son.

Part of what we need to consider is that we do for our children for ourselves at the same time. Every times we go above and beyond, push a little harder to make a moment special for our children, we are giving of ourselves. Every single time we show care in this way, we are placing an importance on our children that makes them more significant in our thoughts and in our hearts.

I’m sure Ollie will not remember this birthday party that we put on for him earlier today. But through the pictures, he will know that it happened. More importantly today he felt what it meant to be loved by being surrounded by people who hold him in their hearts. It is this feeling that will sustain him and carry him through difficult moments in his life in a way that he will never be able to articulate, because it’s not a memory. It’s something deeper that is woven into his being. It is something that he will know, but can’t remember, a feeling that is stronger than a moment and an emotion that is more powerful than a thought.

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