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Parents As Memory Makers and The Responsibility They Bear
Parents As Memory Makers and The Responsibility They Bear
Parenting | November 24, 2020
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As parents, we know that we are not only the first content creators of our children’s recollections, we are responsible for recording them and preserving them for our kids until they reach the age where they can recall these magical (or maybe not so magical) moments on their own. We document, shoot, record, and many of us, even post these events and soon to be memories for our family and our followers to experience with us on social media.

Scheduling yearly shoots for our family has helped me marvel at my children, their growth, and even the growth in my marriage. Photo Credit: Francis Perez

Memory Making Is A Responsibility

This responsibility is huge, you see—because we already know (even from our own experiences) that many of us need those photos to recall what happened in the early years.

Twenty years ago, we would visit different photo studios to document our family’s growth.

I have my own children now. And that means that the memories they recall of their formative years (and even beyond) will create the kind of human beings that they will become. Such great responsibilities come with my motherhood. Other responsibilities lie in teaching, and even more on being a responsible member and advocate in our community.

Children Learn What They Live

I know we have all seen the effects of bad parenting, most especially in the current situation where we are with our children for almost all of their waking hours. My most recent not so proud moment was when my 9-year old dropped an “F-bomb” while she was in class with one of her favorite teachers. I was mortified! I didn’t know what to say or do at that exact moment except to yell, “You’re grounded! No iPad for the whole weekend!”

Long after the vaccine has been found, and we are back to face to face school, Gelli will surely have the memory of online distance learning.

Of course, I can laugh about what happened now. And I have totally figured out where she heard this language (it’s not really my curse word of choice). So, fortunately, I have addressed this behavior—albeit, with a little slice of humble pie in knowing exactly where I went wrong as a momma.

As I thought about writing this piece, I researched what the average age is that memories can be recalled, how to make memories with the kids, and reflected on my own memories from my childhood. Forgive me if I was a bit nostalgic about my own childhood, even while I share different ways that Nino and I consciously create experiences that help shape memories for the kids. We enjoy this part of our parenthood with the hopes that these memories are what will stay with them long after we are gone.

When the kids were younger, we made it a point to visit Nino’s family home in the province, and we have wonderful memories of this time together.

Holidays and Birthdays

Holidays are filled with rituals and are often a great source of childhood memories. Great traditions come from the yearly gatherings of family and the friends that we pull into our circle. Some of these traditions may even be carried for generations to come if they find value and comfort in them.

Even if our family gatherings are smaller now because my siblings are all over the world, somehow, they have become even more meaningful.

TeamGellibean celebrates Christmas Eve through The American-Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes. Growing up, I heard of stories from my Godmother Anne, how my grandfather Michael (whom I’m named after) would keep the eels in the bathtub before he cooked them up on Christmas Eve. (He made Gin in the bathtub too, but that’s a different story, for another time.)

The dishes may be a little different than my grandfather served on Christmas Eve, all those years ago, but that’s the beauty in making the traditions ours.

Knowing that this was something my grandfather did for the whole family inspired Nino and me to host this Christmas Eve Feast in our own home, adapting the tradition of seven fishes in preparation for Baby Jesus’ Birth.

Auntie Anne would happily share how it was growing up with the traditions that she and my father experienced, and Nino and I couldn’t get enough of her stories.

Photos Photos Photos

Snapping photos is something I do to preserve the moment. When I was younger and had more time, I enjoyed scrapbooking and creating photo albums that the kids could flip through. Note to self: Now that everything is digital, I must find a way to go through our photos on my external hard drives and make sense of how to save and create something that my kids can look at in the years to come.

Honestly, I don’t think there is anything greater than looking back on fond childhood memories through the gift of tattered and faded photos in albums that were created by my mother’s hands….

I enjoy going through our own albums with the children, telling them how they were as babies, what their favorite food was, and even visiting the different homes that we lived in as they were growing up. Perhaps these trips down memory lane are not just for my kids’ benefit, but also because I enjoy looking at these photos when they were that small, and sweet, and young.

Gelli’s first Halloween

All The Senses

Knowing that a picture paints a thousand words and that these photos can trigger the emotions and feelings with the memory of an occasion or event that transpired years before, we cannot ignore the idea that memories of specific moments in time can come from a song, a scent, and even a place.

There is scientific evidence that states the more senses involved in creating a memory, the more likely it is to stick. I do believe that this has something to do with the way we learn. As an educator, I know this can be explained through the multisensory approach to education. We are all unique learners that can pick up concepts and create understandings through visual or auditory cues, through movement or touch, and of course, through taste and emotions.

Mundane Moments

Maybe Gia doesn’t remember making sammies for her brother as much as I do. Perhaps, for her, it wasn’t more than peanut butter taken from a shelf that she could reach slapped between two pieces of white bread, served on a plastic Ikea plate that was within her reach to encourage that independence. I remember when she made that FIRST sammie. She was just shy of 6 years old, Miguel was only 3, and Diego was a newborn. Gia saw that I had my hands full with her new sibling, and when Mig said he was hungry, she took it upon herself to make sure that they didn’t bother me with their pangs of hunger.

Shortly after they started eating, I came down the stairs to see what they were doing, and of course, hormonal from just giving birth, I cried buckets at their level of independence and care for one another.

Even documenting seemingly mundane moments became something I realized was important.

Seize The Moment, Look For The Silver Lining

So as we have settled into this new reality of quarantine living, and we are preparing for what is the most wonderful time of year, we know that the memories and after-effects of COVID19 will stay with us long beyond the day that a vaccine is discovered.

It’s easy to see how our current situation has changed almost everything about how we do things. But that doesn’t mean memory making stops.)

Our kids will remember the extra amount of time that we have had for them because we are working from home. They may remember how we cooked every meal together for many months because we were afraid to go out to eat, or how we disinfected everything that came into the home just to make sure everyone was safe. They will also remember seeing a shift in their parents’ attitudes and values, for what was important before is not as important now. As we approach the last few holidays and the series of celebrations for 2020, with our new-found perspective, surely our children will have memories for their memory banks.

Through the series of events that have unfolded during 2020, I am quite sure that my kids have created the understanding that there are so many things to be grateful for. Surely, there will be memories to treasure, even through these challenging times for our country. They will remember that there are times to give and times to come together to heal for the Filipinos who have been affected by Typhoon Ulysses. They will remember all of these things, and hopefully, when they have children (God-willing) of their own, they will share the values behind the actions that created the memories of 2020.

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Michelle Aventajado shares lessons learned through triumphs and challenges in motherhood, relationships, and life, as she raises four children ranging in age from nine to twenty-one. She believes that every trial presents an opportunity to learn, that her daughter Gelli is her greatest teacher, and that as a parent, it is important to instill in her children that they are part of something bigger. 1 Cor 13:13
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