One of my most favorite memories took place when I was around 4 years old. All my pre-school years were spent at home with my mother all to myself because I’m quite a bit younger then my next oldest sibling. On nice days my mother and I would walk around the neighborhood.
Our neighborhood is a cul-de-sac, which perfectly accommodates everything involving kids and wheels: bikes, scooters, skateboards, rollerblades, and as I got older, driving. And I love the houses. They are not enormous, but are a generous size and so are the plots of land they sit on. Plus our neighborhood was built just a few houses at a time and gradually added more, which meant that no one flattened the land and stripped out all thee trees, and subsequently the character as well.
One summer in particular, we started on our walk and without getting very far my mother stopped. Our neighbors had planted snapdragons in the soil around their mailbox. She knelt down to them and gently held one in her pointer finger and thumb and made them talk to me. I can still remember the extreme delight I felt as she pinched those little yellow and pink faces and made them speak with silly voices.
It’s funny how sometimes the simplest thing can bring such joy. It seems like such a small memory, and I’m surprised it has even held on all these years. I wonder if perhaps it’s because it captures so many of the things I appreciate about my mother: her willingness to spend time with me, her sense of humor, her ability to turn a casual walk into story time, her love of all things whimsical (she got that from her mother), and her ability to put aside her self-consciousness to have some kid fun!
In fact, when I was a young teenager there was one time while we were driving together that she jokingly insulted me. To get back at her I decided to beep her car horn. It just so happened that we were stopped at a red light, and what was right there on the corner but a large construction site with a crew of men standing nearby. At the sound of the beep they all whipped their heads around. Without any hesitation, my mom raised her hand to give a loud and cheerful, “Hello!” to the men working, as if she had intentionally beeped the horn! That still makes me laugh even as I write it.
In the chaos of the day to day, I often wonder what my children will remember about me when they grow-up. But looking back at the talking snapdragons gives me hope. I hope that I too can make simple, delightful memories for my children. It doesn’t take being a perfect mother or even doing things right all the time. It might just take willingness to get over a few inhibitions and some simple gestures of fun.
It might just take some talking snapdragons.