A couple of years ago, we took our kids to Great Wolf Lodge for the night, to celebrate our daughter’s momentous achievement of reaching the ripe ol’ age of two. The trip did not go exactly as planned (the birthday girl totally woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and was a pill all day), but we still had a good time.
When I think about the trip, it’s not the water park that stands out as the most notable moment; I actually think about listening to the two of them talk — when they were supposed to be sleeping — as they were lying in the bunk beds in the little “cabin” in our room. I’m still not entirely clear on what a four year old and a two year old have to say, but they managed to talk quite a bit. (Eventually my older daughter begged her sister to stop talking because she was “really, really tired.” For the record, her sister did not oblige until she passed out from exhaustion herself.) They were both pretty young to remember the trip over the long term, but we had fun at the moment, and parts of it will certainly stand out for my husband and me.
In this busy, 24/7 work-world we live in, how much time do we set aside for making memories? A week or two out of the year, perhaps. But the truth is that the memories our kids keep will probably not be the trips to Great Wolf Lodge or the extraordinary events. Sure, odds are, they’ll remember them, but when they call up the most meaningful moments of their childhood, they’ll probably recall the mundane and run-of-the-mill moments much quicker than the splashy (no pun intended) ones.
The bottom line for me is that is it’s critical to try to savour and connect with my kids every day, so that whatever memories they’re creating, I’m in them. Even if we’re playing Candyland for the zillionth time, or baking cookies, or riding bikes, our day-to-day life is the stuff of memories.
You may do very different activities with your kids than I do with mine. But it’s never too late to foster a meaningful connection with the people who bring the meaning to our lives. While we never really know when a long-term memory is being created for our kids, by being fully present for the small moments in their lives, we deepen our relationship and increase the likelihood that our kids will look back on those moments of childhood with fondness and love.