Sometimes when I hear the song "Puff the Magic Dragon" I feel a stab of panic.
It doesn't last long though. I actually love the song, and it carries in its tune a feeling of comfort and safety for me. Growing up, my mom was not obsessed with a clean house, but when she did clean house, she cleaned house. I remember the smell of lemon Pledge and the way her hands cleared shelves, removing the picture frames and owl figurines, and dusting them. When she cleaned like this, there was always a record whirring around on our player. I remember a lot of John Denver and Peter, Paul, and Mary. These songs are the rhythm of my early years.
The reason "Puff the Magic Dragon" causes me a moment of panic is because it hits me deep inside, at a place where I realize I'm the mama now. It is my cleaning routines, my music on the radio, my time spent playing that my kids will remember. This right here is their childhood, and I'm front and center...not totally responsible for it, but certainly having a very large impact right at this moment, and for the future too.
I wonder what they will remember of me.
One of our friends wrote on Facebook yesterday that he had put the butt flap back on Mr. Potato Head for his daughter. When I read that, I laughed and laughed. It just felt so real to me, and really captured part of being a parent. Our kids need us for so much, but what matters to them is the current moment. Reading them a book, sliding with them at the park, putting the butt flap back where it belongs.
Like my memories of my mom, I imagine my kids' memories will be similarly "everyday" kinds of memories. That makes me feel good, capable. It also reminds me to give those small moments the reverence they deserve.
Here is a small moment I will remember forever. Goose fell asleep on my lap a few days ago. She curled her hand up and covered her face, and slept like that for half an hour. The camera was nearby so I took a picture. The feeling I get when I look at this picture is the feeling I want my kids to remember of me.