This revelation hit me less like a ton of bricks and more like a stream that changed into a rushing flood: Heidi remembers.
The other day, Heidi pointed to a picture of a girl on a bike (in a pamphlet) and said "Look! It's Anne!" ("Anne," as I shall call her, is a little girl who lives diagonally across from us and is close to Heidi's age.) I said, "Yeah, that does look like her!" but in my head my thoughts were churning. I have been noticing gradual evidence of Heidi's working brain for some time now, of course, but for some reason after this moment I really began to realize what this means.
"So what?" you say? I'll tell you what.
Up until now, the mistakes I have made as a mother could be shrugged off with the thought that she probably won't remember them. I still recall my earliest memories of toddling into my parents' bedroom to get into bed with them and some time later, asking my mother where Daddy went. They divorced when I was two. She is now two and a half; what will she remember?
Will she remember the last time I was angry when I yelled at her because she wasn't asleep yet? (Silly when you read it.)
Will she remember how I get annoyed with her sometimes because she "takes too long" when we're walking into the house? (Why am I in such a hurry?)
Will she remember the last time I chose to finish what I was doing instead of picking her up when she really wanted me to? (Why is everything else so important?)
It scares me to think that she might remember the negative things in our life over the positive ones, but this fear has also inspired me to make each positive moment we have more over the top. For a long time now, I've made it a point to make each of my children laugh every day, but now I make sure that I give them many moments of pure, individual attention. I also actively work to make sure that there are more positive moments than negative ones over the course of the day. If we have a period of disconnect, I try to follow it up with an equally long time of happiness, giggling and playfulness.
Is that going to be enough to combat the negativity that has already appeared so many times in her short life? Something tells me it is, but only if I actively work to make it so. This is a challenge for me, but only because I am so afraid of the negative moments and the negative impact they could have sometimes, I'm afraid to do anything at all.
What do you do to balance negative and positive moments in parenting?