Don’t Put Your Memories On Hold


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Live in the moment. There were days when those words made me want to snap at the perfectly nice woman behind me at the grocery store.

It’s been four years since I shared this with you and the words are even more relevant to my life now than they were when I first wrote them.

Because life really is what you pay attention to. I want to spend time every day making a moment or two special, even on the days that really aren’t all that special.

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Live in the moment. We’ve all heard that, right? The day my son pushed my phone out of my hands was huge.

We’ve never used our cell phones at the table or been overly addicted to them by my standards, but clearly, they had become a big part of my life, if at two years old, he knew that when my eyes were on that screen, I wasn’t paying attention to his words.

Live In The Moment. Don't Put Your Memories On Hold - If we have a less than perfect house today, there will be plenty of time for a spotless home in the future.

There was the day that my toddlers were leaning on the gated doors to their bedrooms as I was mopping the floors and cleaning the bathroom across the hall sighing, and asking WHY I had to clean every day. Asking me when we could just snuggle.

“Treasure these moments.” “They’re only young once.” “They will be grown before you know it.” It’s hard to treasure those moments when your baby has colic, or when the reflux has trashed yet another outfit and the acidic smell of stomach juices have permeated every inch of your home.

Now, speaking with just ten years hindsight on that child, I’d give almost anything to have that smelly newborn on my shoulder with his knees tucked up almost to his chest. I didn’t grasp just how fleeting those days would be.

That there would come a time when that boy would be almost as tall as I am and so independent I simultaneously smile with pride while shouting on the inside for time to slow down.

I rushed through so many years wishing that they could buckle themselves into the car, or get their own drinks, or button their shirts and pants.

Looking back I realize that the moment they can buckle their own seatbelt is almost exactly the moment they won’t want to be carried and boosted into the car. I know now that I can still get an extra snuggle from my youngest as I lift him into the car, I wish I’d known that with his older brothers.

When my oldest turned 9 and we joked that he was halfway to adult, it stopped me in my tracks. Halfway done, knowing that I will never again do so many of the “firsts,” I am determined not to rush through another one.

I missed too many things, as I checked off my daily to-do lists. I didn’t actually listen as my children told me stories and shared their excitement with me.

Don't put your memories on hold, live the life today that you want your family to remember.

I had so many things that “needed” to be done each day, I put making memories on hold.

I looked forward to the days that were set aside as “special for the kids” – vacation, weekends, parties, or holidays – while on a daily basis, I prioritized a clean house, the laundry, or a perfect dinner.

I thank God for the chance to live IN the moment now before my children are grown and out of my home. There are so many everyday moments to appreciate.

The special days are just that, special and appreciated, but the other ones are gold. Taking 15 minutes on the couch with the kids first thing in the morning is a priceless reminder of where I want my focus to be.

I remind myself every day that my actions today are what my children will remember as their childhood. Do I want them to remember a sparkling clean home?

An always organized closet? Does it matter in the end if their t-shirts are wrinkled because I forgot them in the dryer as we chose to put off folding the laundry in favor of a movie night?

Or will they remember that first thing each morning when they come out of their rooms, I drop what I’m doing and go snuggle on the couch?

Will they remember that in the midst of a crazy week, sometimes we cancel all the errands and activities outside the house and build a tent instead?

Don't put your memories on hold, live the life today that you want your family to remember.

Do I want them to run through their lives with the words “hurry up,” pushing them in a needless race? Why do we say, “hurry” on days when there is no reason to hurry beyond our own impatience?

Do I want to create the memory of a mom who forever had a phone in her hand? Or would I rather their mental image be me encouraging them to grab a book and come read with me on the couch? I try to live the life today that I want my family to remember.

This has nothing to do with possessions or travel or exciting activities. I want to give my children the gift of my time. The peace that comes from knowing that the true value in our lives can never be bought, or planned for, or scheduled into a fancy future vacation.

I want a connection with my kids that will go beyond the parenting. I want them to remember, and to know beyond a doubt that they were far more important than a clean house, my job, my friends, and the extended family.

If we have a less than perfect house today, there will be plenty of time for a spotless home in the future.

I’d rather actively live in the moment and make memories with my kids than allow my to-do list and other priorities to create their childhood memories. In the end? Everything else is just stuff.

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Dixie says

    Mary, your feelings and wishes are very common. As the wife of a Navy man, I often spent months raising my children without my husband at home. I had to shoulder all of the household responsibilities, and snuggle time and special any attention often went straight out the window! Now, my three children are grown, and two of them have children of their own. All of my kids have said that they grew up feeling loved, and I am able to shower my grandchildren with the snuggles and attention I felt unable to give my own kids at times. Everything seems to balance out in it's own way, despite any effort on our part.

  2. Kathy says

    "Cleaning and scrubbing can wait til tomorrow, for babies grow up we've learned to our sorrow. So, quiet down cobwebs! Dust, go to sleep! I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep." This was my motto as my girls were growing up. They are now 23 and 29 and I feel as though I didn't miss a moment!

  3. Amanda says

    Yes. Just… yes. This is so important and beautifully written and the reminder that we need. LIVE A GOOD LIFE. Love others, keep relationships important in all the small things. You are SO WISE my friend!!

  4. Tricia @ Saving room for dessert says

    You are an amazing WOMAN and mother – Mary. Good for you. I miss my kids. I youngest is 25. 25 … where did the time go? I miss them every single day. My house is cleaner now, but it's quiet. When my husband travels it is almost lonely. The dogs get lonely too. Sorry – you pushed my emotional button!

  5. Jocelyn says

    I seriously puffy heart everything about this post!!! It brought tears to my eyes as I think about how do my kids view me…do they think mom is always on the computer and working? Definitely not what I want them to remember when they are older. Thank you for the reminder that our time with our kids is fleeting, and that we need to make the most of it and enjoy them now!!!!

  6. Thrifted Treasure says

    Lovely post. The eldest of my 3 boys is 9 and a half now and I'd love to travel back in time and hold that tiny little baby him again, they're amazing at any age and childhood does fly by and we need to treasure it. I heard a saying once "the days are long but the years are short" 🙂

  7. Holly Nilsson says

    Thank you for this reminder my beautiful friend. I have but one baby left at home… 3/4 have moved out and your words are so true. The time goes too fast and it's so easy being sucked into the 'should do' items on our never ending lists while neglecting the things that truly matter.

    Sometimes things happen in our lives to us or to our friends… that remind us what is important… making memories. <3