In the many, many hours I’ve spent caring for my daughter as a stay-at-home mom–some of them exhilarating, like watching her take those first (four) tiny steps, and others routine (dare I say boring?) like feeding her Cheerios for the millionth time–I often have the same thought:
She won’t remember this.
While it’s clear she’s able to remember much more than she could in babyhood, it’s unlikely (impossible?) that she’ll remember much–or anything–about the Terrible/Terrific Twos. In some ways I suppose this is good. I’m glad she won’t remember the three or four panicky minutes we lost her at the Children’s Museum and another mom found her crying in the Noodle Forest–the one place we didn’t look because it was the one place she never played. But that means she also won’t remember that really fun time at the zoo when all the big cats were roaring or any of her birthday tea parties that we put so much thought and time and love into or the first time she hiked the entirety of the Pinnacle Peak trail (1.75 miles! UPHILL!) and her Daddy and I were so proud that we did an impromptu happy dance in the middle of the trail. She won’t remember waddling up and down the street in her chicken costume last Halloween (THE cutest chicken ever) or seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. Even the day-in-day-out stuff probably won’t make it into the long-term memory bank, like when we chase her in her hooded owl towel EVERY NIGHT after her bath (as if we won’t catch her and she won’t have to go to bed) or going to her weekly playgroup or grooving to “Jumping and Counting” at our local library music class.
And you know what? It doesn’t matter.
Not because the first few years are all about growth and development and making brain connections and other building-blocks-of-life-important stuff. They are and it is. Not because even though she won’t remember, I will (and I have a thousand pictures in case my memory needs jogging). I will remember it, some of it anyway–even if it does become a bit foggy (I always find it funny–and somewhat comforting–how much our own moms don’t remember). But because spending so much time with my daughter has taught me this: There is only right now.
It doesn’t matter that she won’t remember…because she lives in the present.
This is never more true than 2. Their attention spans are short. So, so short. If they push another child on the playground and you tell them no pushing! 10 seconds after the fact they won’t know why they’re in trouble. What’d ya talking about mom? I’m playing happily in the sand right now. The live in the here and now—and maybe we should too.
As adults, we’re often too distracted by the past or future to give our full attention to the present. And while we know we should pay more attention to the task at hand, toddlers live it.
It’s easier for them. They have to. They have to pay attention to everything because they’re figuring everything out.
Our lives are more complicated because we have more than block-tower-building going on–namely because we’re taking care of them–but when you spend 50-plus working hours a week with someone who rarely thinks about the next five minutes, it starts to rub off on you. There really is just now. So we might as well make the most of it. Neither of us will likely remember the epic doll dance party we had in the family room yesterday afternoon or the half-hour we spent chasing a friendly dragonfly in the backyard the afternoon before that. But in those moments we lived–really lived–not at all concerned or distracted by the events that came before or after.
I can think of no better way to make the most of these so-called longest shortest years…before they’re just memories.
Or more likely just a big happy blur–for both of us.
Chocolate-chip Buttermilk Pancakes
There are two things I really hope she does remember from her early childhood: Pa’s JIFFY blueberry-cornmeal pancakes and my chocolate-chip buttermilk pancakes. She eats both regularly–THIS is the stuff childhood memories are made of.
Makes 8 pancakes, but we often double the recipe and freeze the leftovers.
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (regular milk works fine; don’t let it stop you from making these on a lazy Saturday morning!)
1 beaten egg
2 tablespoons cooking oil
A handful or two of chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt. Make a well in the center and set aside. In a small bowl or mixing cup, combine the buttermilk, egg and cooking oil. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened. Batter will be thick, but you can thin it out with additional buttermilk if necessary. Finally, toss in some chocolate chips (a handful or two will do; roughly the same ratio as if you were making chocolate-chip cookies).
Pour 1/3 cup batter per pancake onto a medium-hot griddle and cook until golden brown on both sides. Eat while the chocolate chips are still melt-y and gooey! Sticky-fingered kids make happy kids!
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens