Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Little Moments of Domestic Memory

Not pictures from my childhood - but of memories my own children may one day have of our "little" family!

I don't have many memories of my earlier childhood years, and what I do have are foggy and more like dreams than reality. Sometimes I question whether or not a "memory" really happened or is something that my mind made up somewhere along the way. I'm not sure what that says about my mental health, but for now I'll keep doing my Sudoku puzzles and learning new things and making new friends to help "strengthen" my brain. But this is a post about the force and power of one of my memories and how small moments from our childhoods can affect the courses of our lives.

When I was seven, my mom married my step-father. At the time, I will confess, I was not so happy about it - there are (sadly) pictures of a seven-year-old in a pink dress scowling at the camera. Weeellll I have grown up a lot since then and appreciate Mike for all of the things he has done for Mom and for the large family we became - and for me specifically. When I was around eight or nine, in an effort to make a better life for us, my parents moved us all out of Dallas to a little Texas town called Canton.

I was not happy about that either, really. The house itself was okay, but I was being taken from my friends and the life I had always known was being taken away. I look back on it now and actually have good memories of Canton - but the funny thing is, the memories don't so much involve the people of Canton itself. I recognize now that our move to Canton helped cement my relationship with my new stepfamily in a way that only a move to a far-away place could have. In that, I am grateful.

Being that it was Texas, we didn't have central heat on the house we lived in and so on the colder mornings, we would gather around a kerosene heater in the living room to get warm and get dressed. On one such morning, I woke up to hear the vacuum running and the radio going while Mom listened for reports of possible school closures.

It was such a small moment in time. But all these years later, that one little moment of Mom "being there," just doing Mom things - it's a nice memory. It's one of calm, peace and a time when we children were being blessed by her mothering ways. It has become a memory that I really cherish. She likely doesn't remember that morning, in spite of having a better memory than I do. Now that I am here with my own children, recalling little blips in time like that makes me wonder what my children will remember when they get older.

What little acts of kindness - or anger - will stand out for them? What events will ultimately shape them in who they will become and what type of parents they will be? Such thoughts keep me aware and mindful of how I handle the little stresses of every-day life. By no means am I perfect in my parenting - there are plenty of times when I am snappy and yelling at the kids. And I pray for calm and peace in my own mind and soul to move forward and have more patience. These small (and not so small!) people are given to me as a blessing and as a means of spiritual renewal. There are the days when Jeff comes home from work to find a wife who is Going. Out. (Those are the days when the children are in my life as a means of spiritual strengthening!)

That moment of peace from my childhood affected me, and continues to shape my parenting now. I don't know what jobs my parents held there in Canton (I am still learning about those aspects of life. Hopefully I'll be able to get her to put such stories in a Memory Jar for me one day!); I don't know what her hobbies were or all the many ways she and Mike worked so we could squeak by, but I was shaped by those times. I hope my children have such fond memories of those little moments, when I'm not always aware that they're watching.

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