Kristina Beers
: Perfect memories aren’t always the best

By Kristina Beers

Special to the Pioneer
I am at a stage in my motherhood when our younger boys still need me present, asking questions (incessantly!) in order to challenge and form their minds, while the older ones have a solid shape to their mind and have a full set of memories and experiences apart from the family.

It’s as if we are approaching a fence — the fence of adulthood. some are approaching it, backs turned to me; some are straddling it, smiling down at me as they toss a leg over; and some are standing on the other side, waving back. Nostalgia grips me by the throat and causes an ever-present lump. My babies are not babies any longer.

Our kitchen, the hub of our crazy household, is my favorite place in the moments after the boys leave for school or on a lazy morning where no one has roused from slumber. I sit with my tea, looking over the stove with all its cooking paraphernalia haphazardly hanging, dishes in the sink and mail on the side of the counter. This is pretty much the view my boys have in their childhood memory reels as I am always on the other side, cooking, cleaning, or wiping the counter for the sixth time, stalling as I sense a boy has a story to share, letting him garner the courage to begin.

This morning, I began to wonder if any of the older boys have come home for the weekend and sit here, listening to the mantle clock tick tock in the living room, conjuring fond memories, inhaling the scent of home and thinking of all the laughter that has been shared. I would bet it is more likely he is wondering when I’m going to rise and make the perennial favorite biscuits and gravy.

My own mother has been gone two years now. For whatever reason, it seems I miss her more than before. This morning, the ache was so real the only thing I could think of to stave it off was to make Cream of Wheat with soggy, butter-laden toast. (Everything mother made was laden with butter.)

This awful meal was her go-to when we kids were sick; while it helped with my achy heart, it certainly didn’t taste the same. This loneliness for mom is likely the reason I sat pondering my boys and which memories of me will last — will it be my biscuits and gravy? My hand aimed (and joyful shine in my eye) to shoo away a snitcher who is sneaking pie dough with his dirty, grubby fingers? Him sitting across the counter as we chat away (and I drink a glass of wine?) or will it be me yelling at the top of the stairs to “Get upstairs! NOW!” or throwing shoes out into the driveway like a madwoman because I tripped over an errant pair one too many times?

The boys aren’t my babies any more. That I can’t change. I also can’t control which of their memoires will be the lasting ones. I truly hope they are mostly one and the same with my favorite cherished ones — then, too, I think of how my mother would be mortified to realize that soggy toast and a full pitcher of water stored in the cupboard delight me in a way the perfect apple pie never would, making our family come alive with humanity.

As many times as I’ve made delectable biscuits and gravy, they will likely be the first to regale you with my inadvertent swap of cornstarch for powdered sugar for whipped cream. Which, in case you’re wondering, tastes disgusting, but sets marvelously.

I want my sons to recall the joys of family time, vacations and laughter, not only my travel crying fits and cleaning temper tantrums. But if I want that, I have to provide the opportunity to make those memories. That entails lots of home time, lots of games, lots of time in the kitchen, and little driving around to nowhere in the car. I hope our home is the hub of all things nostalgic so when he gets far enough away over the fence of adulthood — for he must have his mind shaped as his own, solid in who he is before true reflection can happen — he has a rich childhood to look back on and begin to share with his family.

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

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