Last year, when I was asked to read to some students at Betsy Layne Elementary, I was ecstatic! I love to read and I love kids. It was a perfect combination!
I looked through the old books I used to read to my own kids, smiling as I went through the box. I had so many memories of rocking and reading to my children. There were Dr. Seuss books, of course: “Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb”, “Inside Outside Upside Down”, “Hop on Pop” and “Are You my Mother?” But, the ones we loved most were those we had gotten in the Parents Magazine book club. We have “But No Elephants”, “Up Goes Mr. Downs”, “Get Well, Clown-Arounds”, and “Milk and Cookies”. My very, very favorite was “Who Put the Pepper in the Pot” by Joanna Cole. It was a perfect one to read to Mr. Walker’s and Mrs. Amanda’s classes!
A few days later I showed my grown son, Matthew, our treasured book. It was worn and dark with old fingerprints. “Do you remember this book from when you were little?” I asked, already excited about his answer. “Nope,” he muttered, “I’ve never seen it before.”
“What?!” I squealed, “You don’t remember this? It was one of your favorites!” I insisted. “Seriously? How can you not remember?” I was crushed. How could he not remember all those times I read it?! I rocked him as we read. He filled in the blanks. We laughed as we went through it! Sad, sad face.
When I showed the kiddies in Mr. Walker’s room my old and worn book, I asked them what the fingerprints all over it made them think. “It’s dirty,” one little girl answered. I giggled. “It was the one I read most to my own kids. It was our favorite!” I told them all.
Not long after, something on TV stirred another memory of my kids’ childhoods. “Do you remember the enormous tents we used to make that filled the whole living room,” I asked my son, only a little excited about his answer.
“What?” he asked, finally paying attention. “No,” he said after I repeated my question.
“Seriously?! How can you NOT remember those ginormous tents?” I came back. “We ate in them, played in them, made stuff in them? Man!”
I was so disappointed. Those were good times. I had felt like I was doing a fairly good job way back then. I was a stay-at-home Mom but baby-sat other people’s kids, too. We made crafts. We painted. We went to library school. We went to McDonald’s and played in the cool brand-new (back then) play area every week. We went swimming and went on picnics. It was awesome!
Being a Mom is such a roller coaster ride. It’s been great so many times, but it’s been really difficult, too. So often, I’ve felt like I was the dumbest girl to ever be a Mom! I’ve tried really hard to do the right thing, say the right thing, encourage and not discourage. I’ve just done my best, praying all the way. When I rested my head on my pillow at night, I always reviewed the day and what I did wrong, that’s why Mother’s Day has not always been my favorite day of the year. I grade myself really hard. I don’t grade others-just myself. And many times, I measured myself against Moms who seemed to have it all together.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes and there are many things I wish I would’ve done differently. In spite of it all, my kids are mostly sane, and are turning out OK. That’s where God has worked His awesomeness. I can’t imagine ever trying to do this without the Lord! Holy Smokes!
A few weeks ago I saw a woman that I had not seen in 20 years. We hugged and then she said, “I was talking about you just the other day!” (That’s not usually a good thing.) “Really?” I asked sheepishly, dreading what she would say next.
“I remember the time you couldn’t find Matthew anywhere inside or outside the church. You were calling his name over and over. When you finally found him close to the creek, you spanked him right away.” What?! I couldn’t even remember this!
She wasn’t finished. “He was crying and trying to tell you that he was just picking you flowers.” Well, that’s just great. I hadn’t remembered it and then I suddenly felt awful all these years later. Thank you for sharing that happy memory, I thought.
Maybe forgetting is not such a bad thing! I don’t think I’m going to mention it to my son.
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.