5 Ways to Show a Child Love That Will Stand the Test of Time

It can be something as simple as seeing her favourite brand of tea at the supermarket, or unexpectedly finding a pair of her reading glasses hidden in a box. Suddenly, the memory of the way she held a tea-cup, her slightly crooked smile, or the far-away gaze she had when immersed in a good book returns as bright and as vivid as the day we said goodbye.

This weekend marks the 5th anniversary of my mum passing away. I have written before about the challenges of being a mum without my own mum. But to mark this anniversary, I wanted to share a few of the many wonderful things my mum did that made living with her such a joy and privilege, and which I hope every parent would consider doing for their child.

1) Be in the picture – though we live in the age of the selfie, so many mums still find themselves behind the camera and not in front of it. I stumbled across Allison Tate’s beautiful article again recently on why it’s so important for moms to stay in the picture (find it here), and it reminded me of how much I treasure the photos I have of my mum.

2) Share your passions – my mum loved Georgette Heyer books, cream teas and weepy movies. Though it would be prosaic to say I love them too, truthfully I’m not particularly partial to any of these. But knowing what she loved gives me some insight into her sensibilities, and in an indirect way, a lasting touchstone to her soul.

3) Give Memories – I can only vaguely recall a few of the innumerable stuffy toys & dolls I was given as a child, the games, gadgets and gizmos I desperately wanted as a teenager. The items that remain are few and far between: a threadbare ragdoll that had once been my mums, a diamond pendant she passed to me on my twenty-first birthday.

But even many years later I can still recall details of our adventures and trips together. I still giggle over the rental car neither of us could park, remember fondly the movies and plays we saw together (or walked out of, as was our wont), relish the experience of gardens and galleries we visited. These are the treasures she gave me.

4) Write down your stories – when she knew her time was short, my mum used what little energy she had to write in a legacy book, sharing stories of her own childhood, her schooldays, the early days of her marriage to my father. Though I knew the stories, being able to revisit them, read her words and hear her thoughts has given me a lasting connection. The only drawback? I can see from her increasingly shaky handwriting that as her illness progressed she was unable to write as much, or in as much detail as she would have liked.

5) Don’t just tell them, show them you love them everyday – Long before she became sick, my Mum ended every phone call with “I love you”. It was a subtle practice that acknowledged the fragility of life, the ever-present possibility that those we love might be taken from us without warning.

But she didn’t have to say it. I knew she loved me. I had always known it.

From the thousand small, silent messages of love over the years. Not the kind you find on Pinterest, those lunch kit cut-outs and canvas-wrapped lyrics. But in the way she would listen to my eight year-old ramblings, take a day off work to visit a museum I’d dreamed of, find a way to see a play I’ve never forgotten. These were the ways she said “I love you” the loudest, so that through the teenage recaltricance, the college arrogance, the toxic friendships and failed romances, I always knew I was loved.

 

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34 comments

  1. I have always ended phone conversations with my parents with “I love you” too and it reassures me that, if for some awful reason, that was the last time I spoke to them, the last thing I told them was that I loved them. I am trying to show this love to my children too and to, like you say, give them memories rather than stuff. My eldest talks about trips out more than the toys he has, which I just think highlights your point. thanks for a great read #thelist

  2. What a beautiful post, you’ve really brought a tear to my eye. Creating memories is so important – it’s always the days out and the holidays from childhood that stay with you, or just doing something a little different at the weekends. I always say ‘I love you’ before hanging up the phone. We should never take anything for granted. Thanks for sharing #TheList

  3. What a beautiful post, I enjoyed reading it so much. I always say ‘I love you’ it’s so important to me. Creating happy memories for my kids is so important (and memories for me too!). Life is so precious you really have to live it! I’m so rarely in the photos as I’m always the one taking them, I must make more if an effort yo be in them x I love the quote from the old guy too, so true x

  4. Such a thought provoking post, thank you. It’s so easy to take people for granted or get caught up in the hecticness of life and forget to really appreciate the ones you love.

  5. What a beautiful list, I am guilty of not doing #1 enough although I have tried hard to improve this summer! I love the idea of a legacy book, I might have to make a start on that! Thankyou so very much for linking up with #busydoinglie its great to have you joining in. Have a great week!

  6. I am so touched with no. 5. Since I lived here in UK, busy dealing with family life, I sometimes forgot to call home and when I do, I always look for my mum. I’m not very expressive though, when I hang up the phone, I don’t say those 3 words to her but I hope she felt that I love her that much. Lovely Post! #busydoinglife

  7. What a lovely and moving post, your mum sounds brilliant. My mum always ends phone calls with ‘I love you’ too and I tell my girls about a hundred times a day! Writing down the stories is a great idea and actually being in the photos- I have literally thousands of pictures of my girls but only a handful of me or my husband with them. Becky x #busydoinglife

  8. This article really touched my heart. I lost my father and have very little pictures but what I do have are precious and I do have some from all different times of his life which is great. I am a selfie-dodger as I feel embarrassed about how I look as I need to lose some weight, and I don’t take a good picture, but I hadn’t considered it from that point of view before – it really is important. I do have some of my childhood stories written down and we once went camping and told stories which we too wrote down. Great post, it really made reflect on myself! 🙂 #bigfatlinky

    Janet
    ramblesrantswritings.blogspot.co.uk

    1. Thanks Janet! I think a lot of mums have the same struggles with not being comfortable in front of the camera. I’m not really partial to those photos where have greasy hair, no makeup and a double chin! But our kids don’t see that now and they probably won’t later either! I’ll look out for some posts with your favourite stories on the linky! 😉

  9. This is so precious! Love it! My dad died when I was young and I treasure every memory and picture with him. One of the reasons I started blogging was to document these precious crazy years with my kids. I love taking pictures but have realized that I don’t get in a lot and have been trying to more. Thanks for sharing your heart and the wonderful memories of your mom. Linking up with you on #busydoinglife:)

    1. Thanks Rebekah! That’s a great point about blogging — it does encourage writing down and documenting memories. See you again soon!

  10. You had be crying at number 1. As a photographer I am always taking the pictures of my kids but rarely am I in the picture. This summer I made sure that my husband took pics of me with my kids. My grandmother (who was more of a mother to me then my real mother) always had stories to tell and I wish I would have written more of them down. Thank you for linking this wonderful post with #momsterslink. Absolutely beautiful.

  11. A lovely post, the quote at the end is a great description of how loss affects you. Great points, I especially need to take 1 into account more often. 🙂 x

  12. Such a lovely post, brought tears to my eyes I lost my mum to cancer four years ago I can totally relate to how it feels.
    Your list is perfect and so important, I have started a memory box for my mum and treasure my photos of us together.
    Thanks for sharing such a lovely post.
    #TheList

  13. Gorgeous post Jennifer xx I’m so sorry for your loss. Mums are so special and thank you for sharing what your mum taught you. I will ponder more on how I can do the same for my own kids.

    Thanks for linking up to #Thelist xx

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