Friday, September 22, 2006

Ways to Remember

By Heather Pohlabel

I am by far the most paranoid of all of my friends with children. Not only am I paranoid that something will happen to them, I worry that something will happen to me. I often come up with little ways to make sure that is something were to happen to me that I would no longer be around to raise my children, that they would know how much I loved them and that I would be able to pass on some sage advise and wishes for them. Here are a few of the things I've come up with:

Jotting notes. You would be surprised at what kids keep. Sometimes slipping them a little note or card will not only make their day when they receive it, they will probably hold on to it and will have it even long after you are gone. They will always remember where or why they got the surprise and how it made them feel. My daughter still keeps a napkin I put in her lunchbox the first day of first grade. She still reminds me that I used to do that and how nice it was to open up her lunch box and see a note from me! This is something she will remember forever and will probably do with her own children.

I also write down cute things that my children have said. All kids say amazingly humorous things, but we don't really remember verbatim what they say and how old they were when they said it! Included in my "list of things you've said" are:

"These Little Mermaid underwear are the bomb"
"Running around in your underwear just isn't natural"
"Mommy, you left the windmills on the car" (windshield wipers)
"Jesus killed himself on the cross"
"Mom, Uncle Brett is sleeping; he's passed out with the diseases!"

They will not believe the things that they have said, and in time, will laugh at them as much as you did when you first heard them! They, too may record their children's funny sayings for future remembrances.

I also write full length letters to my children. I have done it since before they were born. I keep them in a folder that they will find one day when they are looking through all of my things. They will inevitably cry, but they will also see how much I loved them from the time before they were even born!

Scrapbooking. Everyone seems to be scrapbooking these days, and you can scrapbook for any reason. A lot of us do it just to put our pictures somewhere, but others do it for special occasions, gifts, to help remember, and as a legacy. Your children will treasure and hold on to these scrapbooks for years to come and will see how much love you had for them that you would take the time to put together such a miriad of memories for them to enjoy.

Videos. Some people, and I have yet to do this, I admit (because it seems so final to me), make videos for their children of themselves. They talk to them and show them things such as how to put on makeup or do their hair. They pass on sage advice and show their true emotions on film. This is something that people who find out that they have a terminal disease sometimes do for their children. I'm not sure how the children handle it, but it seems like a good idea. As I said, I haven't done this because it just seems so final, but it is a lovely idea.

Books. There are several books on the market that you can fill with pictures, memories, and advice. These are like more mature versions of baby books, really, and are an excellent idea. I have several that I have started and complete slowly over time. I haven't learned it all yet, so not everything I can advise on, and I hope that my daughters don't think that they know it all at my age either and that they pause before giving ill advice. So if I go, and those pages aren't filled out, they'll have to find out on their own or hear it from someone else, but it's better than getting bad advice from mommy dearest!

There are many ways to let your children know how much you love them and to pass advice on to them in case something should happen to you. Being a good parent in the first place is all you really need to do, but it is nice to have memorabilia of loved ones, so be sure that you have something you can leave for your children if you have to go!

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