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Making Memories: Is there a recipe?

This morning my daughter and I made sugar cookies. Later, I mentioned it to my dear friend and she remarked encouragingly that I had “made a great memory” for her. I’d been reflecting on memories already so her comment sent me to my computer.

I hear parents say all the time that they want to create great memories for their children, or some variation of that sentiment. It makes sense. We all want to give our kids rich experiences and we want them to remember good times. For a lot of people, that’s just an expression, but I think some folks can get pretty caught up in this idea that they have to go out of their way to plan experiences for kids and perhaps even feel guilty if they haven’t done “enough.” I’m not justifying bad parenting. I also know there are many other reasons to give children varied, great experiences and I’m not addressing those. I’m talking to the parents who are feeling lousy because they can’t afford that trip to Disney, didn’t sign the kids up for some activity or don’t quite have the energy for a five-course breakfast on Christmas morning. Take heart; we have little control over memories, anyway.

As the idea for this post marinated, I tried to come up with the things that made the biggest impression on me from childhood. It was interesting to see what surfaced. Of course I remember some things that my parents planned or traditions we observed. But memories are strange things. They’re dreamlike, only not quite. They seem to float around in my mind and yet can be so weighty. I have a hard time coming up with other adjectives to describe them, even after an embarrassingly long time with the thesaurus. Why do we remember some things and not others? We can’t choose the things that will loom large in our kids’ memories or how they’ll remember them.

I remember looking out of the car window on a dark, quiet moment one Christmas Eve at glowing luminarias.

I remember sitting on our back patio on a hot, sunny day with my much older siblings while they listened to U2 and Midnight Oil.

I remember shooting rubber bands across the street with my friends in a brutal war against the neighborhood boys.

I remember walks with my Dad, discovering rocks and having quiet talks and special just-me-and-mom breakfasts with hot chocolate and whipped cream.

These and scores of other small memories and a few big ones collectively help me frame my past. Often, they are not so much about any particular experience, but about the feeling that experience evoked: Profound, grown up, part of something, loved.

In our home I want to focus on positivity; to give my girls a peaceful and happy space in which to make their own memories (hmm… might need to work on my irritability). I hope that their collective memories will point to a childhood that felt secure and full of love. It’s still one of our family goals to get out and do fun things more often but experience tells me that I can’t control what they’ll remember, so I’m not going to waste time fretting over it. I figure the best way to make good memories is to live in the moment.

 

 

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Un-making up for Lost Time

Hair

Honesty is important to me. I try to be as honest as possible with other people and with myself (which is trickier). Like so many of my fellow-females (wait, is that an oxymoron?), I started using makeup as a young teenager. I used it to “hide” my acne (hahahaha!). (Also, I’m really feeling the parentheses today.) I continued to use it into my early adulthood, wasting money and precious time to make myself look different. I’ve never been a spend-hours-on-your-face-and-hair type. I always liked a natural look and I had fun with makeup, but that stuff can be insidious. Marketing makes a big impression on young people. Marketing, culture, and eventually habit brought me to a place where I didn’t feel comfortable without makeup and indeed I felt that it improved my appearance. Over the last ten years, I’ve used less and less and often go entirely without it. I feel GREAT about that. My hair has started to gray, too. I refuse to dye it. This isn’t a judgmental, finger-wagging kind of post; it’s just that this all feels incredibly liberating and so, for all you ladies who are on the fence, I want to share a few of my feelings about going the natural route:

  1. It’s honest. This is the face I was given. It has melasma and sometimes acne, despite that I’m in my thirties. It has a few wrinkles. I can’t say that I look at those things and feel a rush of love and joy, but I’m learning to appreciate them because they’re real. I do still try to address them in healthy and natural ways, but in the meantime, they are what they are.
  2. This is the big one: I have daughters. I want to be real and unaffected for my girls in the hope that they will incorporate that honesty in all kinds of ways. My mother certainly did that for me. I know they will probably go through a makeup-crazy stage. As a mother, though, it kills me that they could spend years doing something that they think will make them feel better about themselves but which actually could be a detriment to their self-confidence when they present their real, beautiful faces to the world. I want them to love themselves, cliche as that might sound. At the same time, most of us need to get outside of ourselves a bit. Narcissism is not cool. When you make a decision not to make yourself up, you have to hold your head high and decide that it’s really none of your business what anyone else thinks about the way you look.  Everyone knows the pat adages about “inner-beauty” but I pray that my children will understand in a real way that physical beauty should not be confused with personal worth; not for themselves and not for anyone else. Also, we people can be layered and dishonest and you can’t always take us at face-value (I can’t resist the urge to point out my super-witty puns, here) and I NEVER want them to have to worry about that with me.
  3. It feels healthier. I try to use simple and natural products, as many of you probably do. I don’t like putting things on my face or body that have a list of unpronounceable ingredients as long as my arm.
  4. It suits my minimalist (lazy) leanings. I like to keep things simple. Just makes me happier.
  5. One last consideration for anyone considering ditching their makeup routine: it will probably improve your skin and/or hair health, which means you get all the benefits of makeup and hair crap without actually buying or using any of that stuff! It’s a mad world ;).

And here I am – makeup free. Not gonna lie, though – this is flattering light!

Sarah 9.2017