Children grow up so fast. It seems like one minute they are breastfeeding and the next they are through with high school. Or at least that’s what my parents say. On each of my birthdays, every year without fail, one or both of them exclaims, “How can you be this old? You were in baby class just the other day!” Their surprise always brings one point home for me: Our busy lives often cause us to miss many of what would have been special moments to remember had we been paying attention. Every parent cherishes the memories of their children’s growing up. Their first step, their first day of school, the funny things they say and do. When that time is gone, and you want your kids to be little again for a few moments, it helps to have relics from that time. There are many ways you can keep your memories close and here are a few:
Most families use photos to go back in time for a bit. How many times have you visited a home and had the photo album taken out and dusted off for you to peruse through and get a few laughs? To date, there are few things I find more amusing than a picture of my father as a Form One, enjoying his first day in the city. Photographs have the power to take us right back to the moment they were taken and so ensure that we don’t forget.
My parents religiously took photos of my elder brother, the first born. There is photographic evidence of just about everything he did. There are fewer photos of me and even fewer of my younger brother. But they are there. By the time my sister came around, I think the energy and excitement of capturing every moment had waned. There are almost no photos of my sister’s childhood and we all feel the loss. Now when my mother is having a bout of nostalgia and is going through our enormous collection of albums, she is met with the fact that there is not that much to remind her about the last time she held her baby in her arms.
When your little one is still little keep a camera close by. One day when they are out of the house and it gets a bit too quiet, you will be happy you did.
People who prefer to express themselves in writing can store their memories in words. Journaling your experiences as a parent will make sure you can always go back when the nostalgia hits. Write about how being a parent makes you feel, the things your kids say, the struggles you have and the lessons you learn. Write anything, really. Some parents blog about their experiences and in so doing reach out to other parents who could relate to them. It’s nice to know that other people are facing the same struggles as you are, isn’t it? Knowing that you’re not the only one whose kid refuses for some reason to wear trousers?
Journaling is useful both in terms of recording special moments and chronicling your own journey of growth as a person and as a parent. So get your notebook or laptop out and let your words flow.
Memory boxes can be anything you want them to be. They can hold anything you want them to hold and when you open them to check out the contents, it feels like you’ve entered a time machine. You can keep old baby clothes in them, your child’s first report card, the ultrasound from your pregnancy, anything. I know a mom who wrote a letter to her child every day of the first year of her child’s life and kept them in a memory box for her child to read when she was older.
If you were planning to give away all the baby clothes and throw out everything your child is no longer using, don’t just yet. You might want to keep a few in a memory box.
When I was maybe four or five I threatened a friend of my parents because he was holding my younger brother when my brother clearly didn’t want to be held. I know this because my parents told us the story and whenever we meet anybody who was there to witness that incident, they always laugh and tell the story again. It’s one of those things I will never live down even though I can’t remember it myself.
A memory shared is a memory that will never be lost. When other people are there to make memories with you and your child those memories will live for as long as those people do, perhaps even longer. Involve your family and friends in your child’s life. Have birthday parties, Sunday lunches and holidays together. You will always have these memories to talk about and reminisce over when the children are all grown up.
No matter what else you do, nothing will beat being present and in the moment. Capture special moments in your child’s life by taking a mental picture. Take everything in and be grateful for it. Slow down sometimes and pay attention to the little things. You will thank yourself later. One of the most beautiful quotes I have ever read about being a parent is this: They may not remember what you did, and they may not remember where you were, but they will remember that you were there. And so will you. When you are present in your child’s life you will remember that you were. You will remember what matters.
Listen to your kids, play with them, answer their questions, go on a walk with them, and every other thing you do as a parent. Be there in the moment. When the special moments come you will be there to witness them and make new memories.
Author: Michelle Korir
Michelle Chepchumba is contributor at Wanjiru Kihusa. She loves cats and enjoys reading and writing in an attempt to discover the mysteries of the human mind. She also works in mental health and writes about life at www.thescroll.co.ke.