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My Daughter is Five. Parenting Starts Now.

2012 October 24

I remember kindergarten.

I remember my teacher Mrs. Steiner with her curly black hair, thin-rimmed glasses and less-than-tall physique.

I remember being dropped off in the morning. The kindergarten kids had a separate side entrance in the building made of brick, but from our safe haven we could see the big kids and the yellow school buses barreling up the school’s main driveway and we watched with a mix of anticipation and fear.

I remember walking home across the big field after school, sometimes in green grass, sometimes through feet of snow, but despite the unpredictable weather, always excited to see my mom and have a snack…even if I wasn’t really hungry.

I remember going for sleepovers at my neighbor’s house and calling my dad in the middle of the night (probably 9pm or so, but middle of the night for a 5-year-old) to come and get me. I remember the comfort of walking home with him in my pajamas, my hand in his, and the feeling of seeing my mom’s tired face waiting for me.

Before that, I don’t remember much of life.

I remember a big black dog from when I was a toddler and being scared of it.

That’s about it.

My daughter is five years old now. She just started kindergarten.

And it has occurred to me that as amazing and challenging and inspiring as parenthood has been thus far, it really all only begins now.

Yes, the past five years have built a great foundation. She can walk, talk, potty, say please and thank you, dress herself, write her name, pour a glass of milk. All crucial things, of course.

But now, from now on, she will not only learn, she will remember.

She will really remember.

She will take elements of the every day from here on in and keep them with her forever. She will develop her sense of self, her sense of others, and her sense of the world around her, and it will stay with her, like an imprint on her mind. She will see things and taste flavors and visit places and then revisit them often, long after she has left. She will hear our words and see our actions and sense our emotions, and they will be more crucial than anything we have done thus far…more amazing, more challenging, more inspiring.

Because she will remember.

So what do I want her to remember?

I want her to remember Taco Tuesdays. I want her to remember after-school ice cream trips. I want her to remember sitting in the backseat of mommy’s car with the sunroof open and the music turned up loud. I want her to remember noisy, boisterous dinners with her family. I want her to remember the genuine joy in our faces when she bounds down the stairs in the morning. I want her to remember baking pumpkin loaves. I want her to remember sitting down at the kitchen table to do her homework every night. I want her to remember the odd time-out and how it made her feel to get it. I want her to remember the kids who were nice to her on the playground. I want her to remember the kids that weren’t so nice. I want her to remember how she reacted to both, how they made her feel. I want her to remember days at the beach and Friday movie nights and reading in bed with a flashlight.

And it’s my job to help her remember all that and more.

It’s my job to amaze and challenge and inspire.

It’s my job to create the memories and moments she will look back on when she has a child of her own.

And now, five years in, I feel like I am just getting to work.

12 Responses leave one →
  1. October 24, 2012

    thank you for posting this, and letting me have my morning tears (seems to be that way lately). may little d remember all of the moments you never expect her to.

  2. liz duncan permalink
    October 24, 2012

    It’s crazy because I’ve told people that I can’t remember much before the age of 5. I wasn’t sure if that was true for anyone else, so you post was comforting. My life at home was always very chaotic(five sisters and myself) and fun so those memories all blend together as far as age, but I remember distinct memories from school. I remember thinking I liked a boy for the first time(eww and five is way too young). I remember we used to pick bark off this tree and I remember disliking nap time because I didn’t take naps anymore, so I would just lay there and think. Sometimes I would be put by the door for nap time and I always wanted a sweater because I was cold. I remember loving my teacher and specific crafts I did.
    I’m sure you little D will appreciate all the times you spend with her. You sound like a very caring mom.

  3. October 24, 2012

    dude! {and I mean that in the most respectful way}

    my daughter just turned 5 too and had the exact same lightbulb moment. I’m very aware {ok, panicked} of giving her the childhood she deserves, enjoying traditions, making memories, learning new things, and letting her fail all at the same time.

    and through all of it, one thought continually remains: holy crap this is hard.

    best of luck to you and yours
    ~ d.

  4. October 24, 2012

    Love the way your wrote this. Exciting times beginning for your daughter and your family as the new adventure in the big world begins. Enjoy!

  5. October 24, 2012

    This is so beautifully written and so poignantly, heartbreakingly true. It’s a wonderful reminder to slow down and make good memories, and not the hurry up we have to go kind. Thank you for this. I’ll go pick up my 5 and 7 year olds and remember this. (And I’ll try not to cry on them – I suspect that mummy always weeping about the passing of time is not such a stellar memory!)

  6. October 25, 2012

    This was beautiful – I loved it! Also, oddly, my kindergarten teacher’s name was Mrs. Steiner too! 🙂

  7. October 25, 2012

    Beautifully written, my friend. I had to chuckle at the time out part. I recently put S in a timeout for the first time in I don’t know how long, maybe a year or more, and I think it shocked us both and it was odd. Everything you wrote here is so true.

  8. October 26, 2012

    Such a beautiful post, R! My earliest memories started at that same age (I didn’t realize it until you pointed it out), and I really don’t remember too much before that time. My son is the same age as Little D., and so now the most important part of the journey begins – the one he will distinctly remember.

  9. October 31, 2012

    What a beautiful post. I’d love to read one about what you will remember of your daughters first years… When do we as mothers actually have the time to imprint our own memories? I know I only have fragments so far. I look at my almost 3 year old daughter and can barely remember her as a baby, she’s growing up so fast and the first years were so sleep deprived! What do you want to remember of your daughter when you’re old and grey? X

  10. Joan permalink
    November 15, 2012

    Wow! My girl is only 9 months old now and time is already speeding by. Your article really makes me think beyond the baby and toddler years. I have to say it makes me look forward to all the good things to come. Your words are really touching! Thank you! Love Joan

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