A year ago my mom inquired about my childhood memories. She asked me what were my most prevalent memories and followed the question with the assumption that my memories revolved around the activities and moments she and I spent together. This was not the case. I do not recall the exact answer I gave her, but I know it was not the honest truth. I do remember I phrased my response so her heart would not be crushed. I mean what mother wants to hear, “Yeah, so all that time, energy, and effort you put into creating what you thought would become my special childhood memories, apparently was not absorbed.” When I reflect on my childhood, my memories involve endless hours playing with the neighborhood kids outside and getting to play over at my friends’ houses. Do not get me wrong, I do remember certain wonderful moments with my Mom, but the flood of happy childhood memories encompasses friends and friendships–the endless hours of free play. I do not have memories about crafting, playing board games, making play doh, having tea parties, going to museums, jumping at bounce houses, or playing dolls with my mom. I do have awesome memories of playing kick the can on summer nights with neighborhood kids. Hours upon hours spent outside, riding bikes, building forts in the woods around the neighborhood, climbing trees while playing hide and seek, camping in my neighbor’s backyard, playing baseball in the street, riding my neighbor’s go cart, and driving the tractor around the yard. You have not lived until you are the kid who gets to play on the tractor with a baby doll in your lap. Fresh in my mind are the endless hours my best friend and I would play with our baby dolls together. Throw in a day of barbies and I was the happiest kid. My mom inquiring about my childhood memories and assuming she was the center of these memories, as I am sure most mothers might, changed who I am as a mother.
Weeks later with the question still lingering in the back of my mind, I spent the morning with Boy #1. Just the two of us. We played multiple card games and I taught him how to play war. We laughed and talked as I was able to give him my undivided attention for hours. Later in the afternoon he played, like most days, outside with his friends. At supper time we recap our individual day by asking the boys a set of routine questions, one of which is to recount the favorite part of your day. I smiled wide when Boy #1 was about to answer this question, because I was certain his favorite part of the day would be spending the morning with his mama playing cards. Narcissistic much? I was wrong. Spending hours with his mom was not his favorite part of the day. I keep my smile, now fake, on while I listen to what his favorite part of the day really entailed. My ego slowly gets put in check as I listen. Boy #1 went on and on and on about how fun it was playing with his friends outside. He failed to warm my heart with any mention of his mother teaching him new card games or the hours we spent together, just he and I, that morning. I wanted to shout “Seriously, what the hell? Hello?? All that time with me? I did not want to play those f’ing card games. I played because that is what you wanted to do. This is my thanks.” Clearly this would be very immature and self-centered so I kept my comments to myself. Motherhood had come full circle through the conversation with my mother and the conversation with Boy #1 in regards to childhood memories. Insert my epiphany now.
I will not try and create my idea (or society’s) of a grand childhood. My endeavor to create a memorable childhood for each of my children through shit I do not want to do has ended. The countless kid-centered elaborate Pinterest activities, spending $50 dollars to go to the latest kid attraction, or feeling guilty for my lack of participation in my boys day-to-day life will no longer control me. I will participate in my children’s life by loving each unconditionally, providing a safe home, providing hot meals, teaching values, being involved in their education, and supporting their interests. Shit, that is mother-of-the year material. In all honesty, we all have different perspectives from identical experiences within the same family. Each one of my boys will develop their own perceptions of their childhood. I cannot control or create their childhood memories. One child may love his childhood and another may hate his. If the boys are spending hours playing cars and trains together day-in and day-out I will not feel the pressure to build an awesome train track or put tape on the carpet as a race track (yes I have done both of these things) to ease my guilt of not participating in their lives. Instead, I will participate in their lives by washing their bed sheets and lovies. If the boys are bored, I will send them outside to ride scooters and bikes, to play football and baseball with the neighbors. I will not feel the pressure to lead them in the latest Pinterest activity, such as sidewalk chalk paint or a giant slip and slide. I will take pride in witnessing the joy of my own childhood replayed as the boys create their own fun outside using their own imagination. Instead of participating during this time (of course I will still be supervising the boys outside) I will fold my laundry, make dinner, complete projects, hell even focus a hot second on myself, and enjoy a book.
Allowing freedom, for both the boys and I, will allow me to be in the moment when I DO want to play football in the front yard, when I DO want to have a Nerf gun fight, when I DO want to try a new kid friendly Pinterest project, when I DO want to build a track and play trains, because I DO LOVE TO PLAY and I DO ENJOY my boys! I will ALWAYS allow the boys to cook or bake with me when they offer to help. I will ALWAYS read them stories and kiss them goodnight because I LOVE this time with them and cherish the moments we share while cuddled together. I will ALWAYS (well it will take a lot to keep me home) be on the sideline of their sports games. I will ALWAYS be available for hugs and kisses. Most of all I will do my BEST (come hell or high water) to provide a loving, stable, supportive, environment that fosters healthy relationships for my boys because that is what I WANT to do, that is what I hope will be the foundation for establishing positive childhood memories.
My epiphany has helped my journey as mother become slightly easier. Parenting is hard enough, I am always looking for solutions to ease my journey. This slow cooker ziti is my solution for filling multiple bellies, on a budget, with minimal prep time, and is a home cooked meal. If you do not have a slow cooker with a timer you could always cook the pasta until el dente, layer ingredients in a 9 x 13 casserole dish, place the casserole in the fridge, and pop it in the oven to finish cooking thirty minutes prior to eating. Here is another tip, I puree my cottage cheese and it makes a world of difference in texture and taste with my boys. Hope you enjoy!
- 1 pound of pasta, I use penne
- 2 24 ounce jars of pasta sauce (I only use one whole jar and half of the other jar)
- 12 ounces of cottage cheese, I puree the cottage cheese
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup of parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup water
Puree the cottage cheese (optional) and mix in the garlic powder. Place a small amount of the pasta sauce on the bottom of the crockpot.
Place one third of the bag of uncooked noodles on top of the sauce, one third of the cottage cheese mixture on top of noodles,1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese on top of the cream cheese mixture, cover with a generous portion of pasta sauce. Repeat layers for a total of three layers. Pour the water around the edges of the slow cooker and top with remaining cheeses. Cook on low for 3 hours.