This is what children remember about their mum when they become an adult
My little girl LOVES to bake. If given the option to do anything at all with me, she would choose getting our aprons on and going to town in the kitchen making cinnamon buns or cupcakes, or our favourite ever chocolate chip cookies.
This, I think, is partly because she loves to dip her fingers into whatever we are making for a sneaky taste, or the fact that I always let her lick the bowl when we are finished with it... but also, maybe more importantly, because it is me and her being alone together for a little while.
Sure we do all sorts of things together, from snuggling down for a movie or getting some shopping, to just being in the car or even (sometimes) sleeping, but when we are together in the kitchen, baking, it is very much a moment where we are both there and present. Where we chit-chat and laugh and make a mess and just enjoy being with each other. Where we, usually, get to do our things in peace from both daddy and baby bro. It's just mum and Nahla time. And it's lovely.
This always makes me wonder about if these are the moments she will remember when she is grown up? When she looks back at her childhood, will it be the hectic day-to-day bits that come to her mind, or will it be these moments, where nothing else mattered than me and her and the goodies we were making?
I worry on days when I have been tired. When I have snapped at them because I have had a bad day in work, or because they have made a mess or because nobody is eating their dinners. Will that be what they remember? Or will it be all those lovely nights on her bed, as we read book after book after book, and laugh out loud over funny lines and crazy creatures. I hope it is the latter.
An American teacher recently wrote about how she, every Mother's Day for sixteen years, asked her students to give her advice on being a mother – even though none of them have children of their own.
"I ask them to think about things their mother or guardian did for or with them that made them feel happy or loved," explains school teacher Erin Kurt explains. "The classroom would go silent as the students wrote intensely for longer than they had ever written before. Often smiles would appear on their faces as they reflected on the happy experiences they were remembering."
After reading and collecting answers for over a decade, Kurt had an illuminating discovery.
"Year after year, in every country I taught, and in every type of demographic, the students were saying the same things and had the same message," Kurt explains. "It’s the small things that their mothers did that meant the most and that they remembered."
Many mums today, myself included, feel as if we are not good enough mothers unless we are racing around, shuttling our children from lessons to practices and back to lessons again, trying to give them amazing experiences and exciting opportunities.
While this may be the Holy Grail to us parents, it turns out that these experiences and activities are not what children remembered the most from being little. This is Kurt's conclusion: "After speaking endlessly about this topic with my students, it became clear to me that what children enjoyed the most, and what made their hearts happiest was when their mothers did simple things for or with them."
In fact, here is a list of the top ten things students around the world said they remembered and loved most about their mothers:
1. She would come into my bedroom at night, tuck me in and sing me a song. Also, tell me stories about when I was little.
2. Give me hugs and kisses and sit and talk with me privately.
3. Spend quality time just with me, not with my brothers and sisters around.
4. Give me nutritious food so I can grow up healthy.
5. At dinner, talk about what we could do together on the weekend.
6. At night talk to me about anything; love, school, family, etc.
7. Let me play outside a lot.
8. Cuddle under a blanket and watch our favourite TV show together.
9. Discipline me. It made me feel like she cared.
10. Leave special messages in my desk or lunch bag.