Of all the things I do for my daughters, I wonder how many will actually be remembered.
Don't get me wrong. Everything I do, from stroking their feverish foreheads all night to slaving for hours over cake pops that will never look a thing like they do on Pinterest, is done completely out of love. I don't keep a tally nor do I leave Post-It Note reminders of the moments I hope will be remembered. Still, I wonder. And here's why.
My daughters and I recently planted Venus Fly Trap and Sundew Savage seeds into a terrarium complete with red and blue LED lights. As we read aloud about everything from the most fertile soil to seedlings that would eventually become carnivores, my husband entered the room and asked if my mother did as much stuff with me as I do with my 5 and 7 year olds. While I know for sure that she did, I can recall only a select few times.
I can, however, remember in great detail the few things she did that really upset me. For example:
1) I come from a large family full of hockey players. Boys learned as babies how to ice skate with chairs on homemade, backyard rinks before moving up to peewee leagues, high school state championships and Division I collegiate teams. So, growing up in a home where the smell of a musty hockey bag was just as familiar as that of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, it should come as no surprise that I (literally) wanted a piece of the game. But no sooner did I tell my parents that I wanted to be an ice hockey goalie than my mother put me in skates of my own. Unfortunately though, they were figure skates. Those frilly lessons were very short-lived. Eventually I gave up not only on pestering my parents, but on dreaming to play the sport. That is, until I entered my freshman year at Boston College just as they were developing their women's team. I remind my mother to this day that had I been allowed to play, allowed to pursue my dream, I just may have had a chance at a scholarship. She responds, very adamantly I might add, that what we'd have saved in my tuition, we'd have spent in my dental bills. (Touché, Mom. Touché.)
2) I was a very private teenager, or at least I tried to be. My mother was the kind that almost always knew exactly what was happening in my life without my having to say a word, so much so that I prided myself on her being incorrect. So when my very first junior high yearbook came home with what I considered insanely personal inscriptions from all my friends, I begged her not to read them. Little did I know at the time that begging the parent of a teenager not to do something almost always guarantees that they will do just that. Immediately. Therefore when I found her reading the messages, which couldn't have been any more racy than Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, I was mortified. To this day, I have vowed not to do the same to my daughter (or at least not to get caught).
3) When my brother was a senior at boarding school, my parents helped he and his friends put together a winter break co-ed ski trip. I remember vividly hearing my mother put the security deposit for a condo on her credit card while making arrangements for my brother to have her four-wheel drive vehicle for the trek. As a much better student and a mere fraction of the trouble my brother was, I anxiously awaited the day my parents would offer me the same arrangement. So when time came to plan a similar getaway for my friends, I was shocked to learn there'd be no such offering. Determined to know why, I asked my mother repeatedly for an explanation as to how my brother could receive such preferential treatment. Frustrated with my persistence and at the end of her rope, my mother finally screamed her frighteningly honest answer. "Because your brother can't get pregnant!" (Go ahead. Gasp.)
I do honestly believe the sweetest moments shared with my mother are the ones that shaped me into the mother and woman I am today. However, they've really all merged to become more the memory of one happy, inspired childhood than a collection of individually blessed experiences. Sadly, it's the ugly ones that still stand out.
No one wants to be remembered more for their weaknesses than their strengths. In parenting, especially for a good parent (and my mother was an amazing one), I can imagine no greater injustice.
I'd like to say that I learned from (what I deemed as) my mother's mistakes, especially the few described above. I'd also like to believe I will never make a similar decision that will hurt or haunt my daughter into adulthood, but I know that will never happen. In fact, I don't want it to happen. For if it does, I've likely failed her in some way.
So please, will one of you remind my daughter of that when she is a teenager?