Yesterday Benjamin Button asked me a question. “Mom,” he says, “What is your favorite memory?” I was, for once, at a loss for words. It was a big question. What would I pick? The day I got married? The birth of each child? The first time I ever tasted coffee? I was stumped. He doesn’t have a lot of patience with stumped, so he supplied for me, “I know! It’s the day you married daddy because that’s the day you were on the way to having us! We’re your favorite memory!”
I thought about his question later, and I felt like I needed categories. Like the question was just too broad. There are so many beautiful memories I have from my childhood, and from being a teen, a newlywed, a new mom. Even now, simple pleasures like the wind in my hair as I drive the Jeep with the top down. The sound of ocean waves. How warm and consuming my mom’s hugs were. And then I started to wonder what kind of memories my kids have.
Unfortunately, my kids have suffered a lot of big losses in their lives. And sometimes, if I’m being honest, I check out as a mom. Not because I want to, but because it’s a matter of survival. How can I manage my own grief or job or home or relationships and still be available to them for managing their own struggles? I wonder if, as they get older, they will have good memories like I do, or if they will look back on their childhood and see more shadows than light.
So today, we decided to make some memories. On the spur of the moment, Other Half and I decided to take a day trip to Chimney Rock and Lake Lure. It’s only a 1.5-2 hour drive so we could still be back in time for my dad if the liver fairy came. (It didn’t, by the way. Stupid lazy fairy).
When we got there, Benjamin Button said he wanted to find a creek. He has a best buddy from preschool that he still sees. The last time he went to his buddy’s house, they played in the creek and he said it was the most fun he had in forever. So we found him a spot to get in the creek. Y’all. If joy had a face, this would be it. He was utterly and completely content.
Meanwhile, Mary Ann decided that the creek is an excellent place to have a photo shoot. Other Half and I mostly concentrated on not breaking anything important, like arms or legs, while we got in the creek with them.
Mary Ann wanted to go gem mining. Basically this means you pay a fee for a bucket of sand, and then sift it in little troughs of water. They had so much fun with that. You would think they were pirates with buried treasure. By the end of the first bucket they were begging for another, so we got one more.
We had lunch outside with a view of one of the creeks, and we played a game (which Benjamin Button came up with) where you pick a number from 1-10, and whoever guesses the number farthest away has to tell their most embarrassing moment. We played this for probably 30 minutes. I cannot tell you how many of these involved variations of pooping in ones pants or farting very loudly. This is the risk you taken when you play these kinds of games with a third grade boy.
It was the best family day we’ve had in a while, and no one played on their cell phone, and there was no Fortnite in sight. So, for today Benjamin Button, these are my new favorite memories. And I’m one step closer to feeling like maybe my kids won’t look back and only see pain. Maybe they will remember some simple days that brought them joy when we ran away for a while and they got to be kids instead of tiny adults. What are some of yours?