Parenting Memories Bring More Joy As We Age

I just commented on Melissa’s Play 101 blog about how much our kids bring us joy–and then added the cravat that the “joy” may come after years of “downtime.”

Here’s my story to support the above statement:


Animated model of a zipper being undone.

Image via Wikipedia

One aspect of shopping today that remains very much like shopping in the 1970’s are fabric shops.  Bolts of cloth, spools of thread, and little packages of rick-rack all are displayed in the same way.  (The huge difference between fabric stores of then and of now is that there is less fabric now with a whole lot more of “crafting” goods.  Not a good store for the person who has an imagination but little time.  I’m still trying to find “homes” for so much that I bought 20-30 years ago and “packed away until I had time.”  Good grief, there is no way I even know what I bought all that material for.)  Oh, but I digress.

So you can see that once I’m in a fabric shop, my “oh I could make this” part of my brain takes over, to the exclusion of all else.  Including children.  Small children.  My small child.

It really couldn’t have been that long of a time that I had noticed my two-year-old, toddling beside me, looking at all the fabric, could it?  I suddenly came to and noticed that my sweet child was not at my side at the very moment that an elderly shopped raised her voice, among a chorus of women’s voices to say,”This child has to have a mother in this store!”  (I know, it was “then” and we didn’t have to worry about people kidnapping our children.  There was more of a worry that someone would slip them a whole candy bar.)

Yes, it was my special, sweet daughter who had figured out how to take ALL the zippers out of their carefully arranged, stair-stepped display.  She had managed to empty about 2/3’s of the display before she was discovered.  A hundred zippers were strewn across the floor.

Between embarrassment at having left my child alone so long that she had time to dismantle the zipper department; and, embarrassment at being such a bad parent that my child would indulge in such an awful display of behavior, I picked her up and quickly carried her to our car, trying to escape being identified and censured by all the other women in that store.

Almost 40 years later and I am smiling.  What a wonderful memory.  But I didn’t smile at the time.  And I didn’t return to that fabric shop for a very long time.

I’m so glad that we have grown as a society/culture so that we understand and give support to young parents with young children.  I hope that in these days, if a child empties the zipper display, that supporting shoppers will get down on their hands and knees and help reduce the carnage of a child who was simply entertaining herself as her mother was taking a momentary time-out from being a 100% available parent.

Be gentle with yourself and your children.

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