As I sat leafing through a stack of pictures on the kitchen table, I saw some photos that I decided the kids should see so we could reminisce together.
I shuffled through pictures from our trip to the Grand Canyon and pointed to their cute faces saying, “Wasn’t this a great trip?”
My kids stared on the photos with blank looks on their faces then, slowly, the light came on as the photo awakened a memory they had long ago tucked away.
“Oh yea! We did go to the Grand Canyon!”
I couldn’t believe how little they remembered of the trip. So I started retelling parts of our trip for their listening pleasure because I remembered it vividly.
I remembered traveling with four kids on a long trip, referring who would sit where and who would hold the bottle for the baby when he needed to eat. I remember fighting over which movie we would watch next and who would have to sleep next to who in the hotel stays.
I remember trying hard to stay in budget while feeding a family of six on the road. And I remember trying hard to get the picture they were now looking at while simultaneously making sure they didn’t fall over the edge of the earth into the canyon.
As I recounted the trip to them with laughter and smiles (I left off the parts that made me want to pull my hair out), I realized that I was doing the job of reinforcing a memory.
There are memories that we keep and remember well from our childhood but I’ve found in my own life, the many of the memories that are the clearest are the ones that I got a chance to rehearse and review by looking at pictures, hearing the stories told over and over again at family get-togethers, or the events of my life that I took the time to write down and look at every now and again.
Now, as a mother of five, I struggle to keep up with all of the pictures on my phone that rarely get printed and to make the time to journal the important stories that I want my children to have on record later.
But I’m trying to better in simple ways every day.
Both my husband and I have started going through pictures more often and talking to each of our children about the memories of their childhood we don’t want them to forget. We realize that a part of our job as parents is to be the storytellers of our kids’ lives as they unfold.
So while life is still busy and the storage on my phone approaches full, I’m doing better.
I’m printing inexpensive digital photo books so that the kids can leaf through them and ask… “Is that me?” “Where were we?” “Who is that holding me?”
I may not ever be a super scrapbooker but I’ll settle for a digital delinquent if that means my children will have pictures present in their minds for the rest of their life. There are a few more pictures on the walls and I let them swipe through the ones on my phone when we have a few minutes to spare.
I’m writing more words in the cards I give them for their birthdays knowing that one day those written words will be precious. When they toss the card to the side to get to the gift that is wrapped for their special day, I quietly pick up the card and place it in a file folder with their name at the top.
We have pulled out the family videos and I’m digitizing them slowly before the VHS tape degrades and wears out. It’s been so fun to listen to their voices as toddlers now that the boys’ voices have started to deepen.
I’m not perfect, but I’m doing better.
I realize that I am my kids’ mom and that means that I have the important job of being a storyteller. Because I am a mom, I hold the keys to much of what they will remember.
And because I know their stories, it’s my job to make sure that I’m intentional in sharing those stories with them.
Chrystal Hurst, ChrystalEvansHurst.com