Monday, December 5, 2011

My kids will have happy childhood memories, even it kills me (which it probably will)…

"Mommy, how do you know how to bake cookies?  Did your mom teach you?" Bella asked me one afternoon, as she and her brothers helped me prepare a batch of sugar cookies.

I smiled at my inquisitive daughter, "Not exactly.  I taught myself how to bake."

"Why?" Cole asked.  "She didn't like you being in the kitchen with her."

Because she didn't like me being with her period...the gruff words danced on my tongue.

"Uh, well, Nanny didn't really like to bake," I explained in kid-friendly terms.

Landon sat at the counter, his eyes shining brightly while watching the mixer magically whir the ingredients together.

He spoke up.  "That's sad you had to teach yourself, Mommy."

"It's okay.  I'm not sad about it," I lied.  "Baking just wasn't her thing."

Kids weren't her thing either...I kept that to myself, as well.

Cole inquired, "So you taught yourself how to bake so you could bake with us, like we're doing now?"

"Exactly," I confirmed.  "This is how I always imagined what it would be like when I had kids.  We'd be in the kitchen, baking cookies and listening to holiday music, just having a great time together."

They each beamed at me, their smiles radiant enough to brighten even the darkest of rooms.   But certainly not the darkest of hearts.

Why didn't my mother want to create such warm memories with me, I wondered.  I had spent a majority of my life convincing myself that it was because we simply didn't have the same interests or because she worked full time and was just too exhausted.

Ultimately, I speculated that she just didn't like...well, me.  Plain and simple.

It seemed natural to want my children to have a different upbringing, even if it meant pushing myself to the brink of insanity.

There are times where I feel like I have nothing left to give them.  But then they'll come up with an amusing game of Cops and Robbers, begging me to play with them.

My brain screams, "Woman, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself.  Tell them you'll play another time."

But my heart cries out, "Don't let this moment pass because you will regret it.  You can rest once they're in bed.  Drop the dishtowel and go play with them."

My children giggle with such bliss and delight the entire time we play, as I chase them down shouting, "Who stole all my cookies?!  I'm going to get you little cookie robbers!!"

Once I grab a hold of the mischievous robbers, we engage in a tickle fight until I'm laughing so hard I practically pee in my pants.  And then we're all cackling hysterically at the thought of Mommy peeing in her pants.

Why didn't she ever play with me like this?  Did I ever share delightful moments with her that perhaps I just don't remember?  Though I highly doubt it, I can't be completely certain.

So as Christmas is thrust upon us, I find myself baking more often with them and enjoying our annual tradition of building gingerbread houses together.

It's not relaxing nor peacefully quiet, like perhaps reading them a book might be.  And let's be honest, sometimes even reading books with them isn't exactly like being on a sandy beach all by lonesome, basking in the warm sunshine and taking in all the calming sounds of nature.

Sure, the last of my brain cells are begging for relief from the chaos and disorganization, as this kid wants the green gumdrops just as that kid grabs them from the bowl.  Sure, I could be doing a million other things instead of picking out all the red M&M's for one child and helping another child drizzle icicles onto his house.

And, sure, there have been a few moments where I've had to leave the room and shriek into my pillow, absolutely positive that I will never survive the next 30 minutes.

But I'm creating memories with them.





Even though my kitchen looks like a blizzard hit it and I'm itching to get in there and clean it up...


I sit at the table, delighting in sharing this tradition with them once again and finding joy in the sounds of their merriment.

Later, when I ask the kids, "Tell me what the best part of your day was", a question I try to ask them on a daily basis, they each grin and remark, "Making the gingerbread houses and eating candy for lunch!"

In that instant, I feel no more sadness, no more regret, no more bitterness over what I lost out on as a child.  I've moved forward.

Now, I feel nothing but happiness and peace, knowing my kids will have happy childhood memories, even if it kills me (which it probably will).


Laura said...

I think it's amazing that you're making it a priority to do better than what was done for you. I am dealing with that now. I have a 14 month old daughter and traditions didnt exist in my family. Decorating our Christmas Tree last night brought back so many memories, or lack of memories that it made me realize how different and better I want things for my daughter.


Marcia (123 blog) said...

Beautiful post, helene.

I often wonder the same about my mother who I can never remember hugging me let alone baking or cooking with me.

Oh well... we will do AWESOME with our kids, right? :)

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

My first thought in seeing those excellent gingerbread houses is that - YOUR KIDS HAVE TOTALLY GOT YOUR CAKE BAKING GENIUS GENES!!! :-)

It's a lot more work sometimes to include them - in things like making cookies and such - but it does make them so happy it's always worth it :-)

Merri Ann said...

I think we have the same mom. She probably thinks some kind of curse hit her that her daughters both had twins ... thereby saddling her with even MORE grandkids. :))

But kidding aside ...

My entire family was at my house on Saturday and my mom made a point to tell everyone that I needed to have two Christmas Trees ... one the kids can mess up and one "nice" one. Her other comment was that I needed to get rid of the "crappy" decorations ... the ones she pointed to were the gifts my kids made for me last year. They were very obviously kid painted ceramic reindeer.

I've stopped trying to defend her to my kids. I simply tell them now that she just has a different way of doing things.

Thank God my inlaws are wonderful ... unfortunatley we don't live by them.

The houses look great ... I'm glad you take all those moments with your kids ... I think they will remember. And, some day we will get to see them passing those moments on to our grandkids ...

Singedwingangel said...

I can't imagine not having had my mom do things with me. That is one thing I am grateful for. Your kids are such cuties and did awesome on those houses.. Much better then I have on them lol. You are a great mom cause you get it, having not had it you know what it shouldn't be.. and that is the best start is in knowing what NOT to do.

Evonne said...

I'm sorry you don't have those happy childhood memories, but it is very obvious that your kids will.

Those are awesome gingerbread houses. Good luck with them this year. Having made them with my kids before, I know they can definitely kill you!

Kmama said...

This post is both so sad, but also completely heartwarming. I'm glad you are able to want better, and to DO better for your kids.

Those are great gingerbread houses!!

Natalie said...

Awww what an awesome mom you are! I'm so glad you are able to do fun activities with them that your mother didn't. I think you are totally enjoying your kids right now even if it does leave a huge mess. They grow so fast so like you said sometimes you've got to just drop the dish towel :)

Samantha said...

You are a wonderful Mother, most definitely and they will definitely have beautiful childhood memories :)

I've made the tradition of making Fridays a 'girls day' for me and Bree. We go out 'shopping' even if we don't have any money. She always has fun. I'll miss it when she goes to school.

But there are times when she wants me to play with her and her dollhouse, and I decline. I probably should. Housework can wait. It's not going anywhere, although, I wish it would...thank you for this post & a reminder that they're only kids once and we should enjoy every ounce of their being even if it isn't always pleasant :)

Barbara said...

Such a beautiful post! I have to admit that sometimes while trying to create these magical memories with my son I'm tempted to jump out the window and always wonder "why did I think this was a good idea". It's only after my son has gone to bed that I think, that was a great day!

Sarah said...

I kinda want to give you a hug right now.

Eva Gallant said...

You are giving them so much, creating those memories with them. They will never forget and do the same with their children someday! I'm sorry your mother was the person she was. She, too, missed out on a lot.

Charlene said...

Awww...I love this :)

I remember when my kids spent the week at my mother's last summer and they came home telling tales of all the things they did with her, including playing hide and seek. I actually got a little jealous, because she never played hide and seek with me as a child.

I think that's why I over do it too. My hubby tells me I have a supermom complex :) Eh, there could be worse things to be.

Charlene said...

Ooh and I forgot to say that I love their houses!!

mudmama said...

This post makes me practically teary. I relate a lot. As a "motherless daughter" (I wrote a book w/ that as a recurrent theme) I relate to what you say sooo much. Since we didn;t have that as kids I think it makes it that much more important to give it to our kids! Yes, we have to make time for ourselves too so we have something left to give them, but it looks like you are a rock star mommy gining them great memories! Enjoy and happy holidays! :)

Brad Jenkins said...

Three things I love about this post.

1 - You've managed to work in some lyrics from Ice Cube (check yo self befo you wreck yo self...cause shotgun bullets is bad fo yo health is how that ends for those not in the know).

2 - Cole with his standard goofy face pose for the camera.

3 - Your ability to bite your tongue in situations when it would do nobody any good to hear the thoughts you were having. I struggle with this ALOT. I typically end up blurting out what's on my mind and have to apologize for it later. Kudos to you for being aware of it and holding it in.

Tina said...

it's awesome that you get to do that with your babies even if your mom didn't do it with you...and do enjoy these moments cause pretty soon they will be 12 like Chandler is and then you'll want to kill em before their next birthday...I'm plotting his death before his 13th birthday as I type this.
sorry i was gone for a while, my dad passed and i really couldn't find the strength to blog for a while, then stupid blogger wouldn't let me have my old address back so that sucked....

Lisa said...

My mom didn't do stuff like that with me either -- she loved me to death, but she was always more of a "i'll buy you this" then an "i'll do this with you" mom. I strive everyday to make memories with my kids. My husband has all these great memories, that I am actually jealous of. I refuse to let my kids grow up and be like me.

Sela Toki said...

Awwh, that post got me teary. You're an amazing mom Helene. You're children are blessed to have you. Thank you for sharing a part of yourself with us. Our family tradition is getting together and eat eat eat. Oh and thanks for dropping by my blog with the kinds words. God bless.

kristi said...

My mom had 6 kids and I totally get where you are coming from. I think my Mom was dealing with bad husband choices and a lot on her plate. She did do fun things for us like make pudding in fancy glasses, etc... But I don't remember a ton of one on one activities.

Cascia Talbert said...

Sounds like you had a lot of fun baking with your kids! I can sure relate. I try my best to create memories with my kids too. My mother always reminds me to enjoy my children while they are still young because before I know it they will all be grown and out of the house. I am not looking forward to that! Sometimes I wish that time could just slow down a little so I can have more play time with my kids.

irishtwinsmommababybook said...

You are such a great mommy!!!!

These thoughts go through my mind all of the time, not that I had a bad childhood or a rough relationship with my parents, but those moments when I want to scream-- and I don't. Because I need to soak it up-- knowing they will no longer just 'want mommy' rather to ignore me and be with friends.

What a great post!!!!

The Lane Family said...

Helene, this is an absolutely AMAZING post. I truly agree with you...there is so many times when I want to say...we will play later or why don't you do something else..but I remember that someday I want my kids to have amazing memories and that is what really matters.

Plus as the song says..."your going to miss this"!!!

Jenny said...

Great post. Your kids will remember these special times you all have together! It will make them better parents too!

Jayme said...

You are the best mom! Kids remember stuff like this, not that the kitchen was messy afterwards :)

Heather said...

Awesome! It's obvious they had a blast just being with you. It's very hard to stop and play when you're about to go crazy :)

Emmy said...

Really want to go me cookies now. Good good for you. You are amazing and breaking the chain and are an amazing mother who is creating a wonderful life for your children.

Karen and Gerard said...

I remember helping my mom bake Christmas cookies even though she was not big on baking--that was a special fun memory! I'm sure your kids had a great time with you--that's what matters. Great job, mom!

Rhiannon said...

1. even though your kitchen is a mess... atleast its a fab looking made over kitchen :-)
2. my also do not have these memories with my mom, wish i did and i try my best to makes these memories with my son
3. haha i have one you have four!
4. what you are doing with your kids is more valuable than your sanity. they will love you so much, they will pick out a nice retirement home for you... next month

Catherine said...

My mother had a cold, unloving mother. Therefore, she decided to do better. She excelled! So, I had a wonderful, loving childhood. She changed the course of our family. I was close and loving with my kids and although they don't have children yet, I can see that they will be loving, attentive parents. You are changing the nature of your family going forward. It is important work ... don't despair of the past, glory in what a great job you are doing with those kids.

Anonymous said...

:) I am so happy you get to experience these wonderful memories with your children, that is how I hope it will be for me one day! My mom was never 'much of a baker' either... I can feel your pain but I admire you for giving your children the amazing experience of baking with you! said...

Oh, but what a wonderful, fabulous, unbelievable Blizzard!

Your children will NEVER forget your time together.

Xxx Sorry you didn't experience those memories w/ your mother.

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

you have amazing insight and a beautiful soul. I feel many of the same things from my mom, and totally get you. Cheers and hugs!

Katie and Matt said...

I am the 9th of 10 children. I get it. I think this is why I am such a chronic picture taker. So I have document that I love my twins and that we made memories together! I never want them to second guess that they were loved and that I loved spending time with them :) Thank you for this post :)

Shell said...

You are creating wonderful memories with your kids!

Try to remember that your mom(and mine) are just unhappy people. It's nothing that we ever did- they just suck.

Nezzy said...

Makin' memories, that's what it's all about sweetie! Your a great mom who sees just that!

I have to say I felt a little guilty readin' about your little girl self. My mom is the kind who would let me help make and decorate the Christmas cookies and hang the on the tree.

My dad is a whole other story. I tried my whole life to please that man, unsuccessfully. I'll never write about that side of my father as long as my mother is living. It just wouldn't 'fly' well.

God bless you and your precious family this holiday season!!!

Now, open your window 'cause I'm sendin' some big old Ozark hugs your way sweetie!!!

Jen said...

LOVE this post. It is such a good reminder.

Missy said...

It's not going to kill you - it's going to make you strong and the best mom ever. It's going to give you memories to cherish when you're old and gray, saying, "Wonder why the kids haven't called today?" Because they'll be busy with their own kids, like you were one day.

You're a good woman, Helene. :)

blueviolet said...

You are giving them such a gift, a wonderful, wonderful gift.

Sarah said...

Helene you are such a breath of fresh air to my heart. My family never had any traditions either and I so long to create them with my kids. Thank you for reminding me that I am the mom now and I get to decide. I always need a reminder to leave the housework and play with my girls.. hugs to you super mama.

HoneyDame said...

Bottom line is that you have allowed your disappointments to motivate you positively in your mothering. You are special.

My mum was sort of kind of in the same boat as you. Her mum was just....errrhd/ds/dddnd!!!
But my mum tried, oh boy, did she try?!! to be the best mother on earth and guess what, she was successful! ( even with some of her goofs)

Just this morning, I was reminiscing on some of our several episodes and the pseudo-traditions we formed which she maintained. Those memories are what keep me going in no-man land.

Here, a toast to all you awesome mamas!!!

championm2000 said...

Ah, to escape the chaos for a few moments!

I am in the process of writing a post about the "messes" of the last year. Twin toddlers have pushed the limits of my need for organization, my compulsion for clean!

I try to remember it's only a mess. The memory is the thing! I. am. trying. :-)

Julia said...

Oh. Your sentiment about needing to take a break to scream into a pillow. I get that!

I want to engage my daughters in lots of artwork/craft type things---I want to do that with them, but, as you know so much better than I do---it's not an easy thing to do when you're on your own. I lack the grace, and find myself masking frustration, so as not to discourage them, because they're usually enjoying themselves (and learning) as they make insanely large messes.

Fingerpainting? Let's just say they really experienced that with ALL their senses. I would have left to scream into something or just to pee, but I was afraid they'd just squirting it directly into their mouths. Brynne kept saying "yum" and putting the paint brush in her mouth. The kid won't eat my chicken and dumplings, but she'll eat fingerpaint....

Lots of deep breathing. Lots and lots and lots (and some wine).

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr

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