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As a mom, what can you do to create the best possible memories with your child?

To figure this out, I asked a small group of friends (& my dad) to share their favorite childhood memory with their moms. I wanted to see if there were any common threads that tied their stories together.

Here are their responses:

When I was young I was obsessed with hula-hooping. When my school talent show was coming up I dreamt of being able to hula-hoop without stopping for a whole song. One day I set the microwave timer for 10 minutes and started to hoop, determined to not stop. My mom cheered me on the whole way and that’s what gave me the confidence to be in the talent show. Although it must have been a really boring 5 minutes to watch for everyone in the audience, my mom sat smiling the whole way through.

– Anna Gannon

While it is hard to pick one favorite memory, the one that regularly comes to mind is the day of my first dance recital. I was 7 years old and so nervous to go out on stage by myself to perform. My mom stood backstage with me where she would watch and be waiting when I was finished. When it was time to take the stage I turned to her with what must have been a look of terror on my face. With an expression of compassion and encouragement, she knelt down beside me, took my hands, motioned her eyes toward my stomach and said, “Don’t worry about those butterflies. I’ll hold onto them for you. You’re going to be great.”

It was just what I needed to hear to have the courage to go on stage. Though the stage has changed, knowing my mom is behind me watching from the wings, still gives me confidence. And to this day, if I doubt myself she’ll still say, “I’ll hold your butterflies, you’re going to be great.”

– Charyl DeVoe

One fond memory is that when I was about nine years old, my favorite thing to do after school was to put on a long blonde wig, line up all of my stuffed animals, take out an attendance form, and pretend I was running a business. My mom would sometimes walk into my room and accidentally interrupt as I was giving my “teammates” direction. She never once laughed, or made me feel weird about it. Instead, she’d walk in and say “I’m not worried about you Loren. You’re going to be running the show one day.” It was such a supportive, big picture, big dream thing to say to a little girl in her room surrounded by still stuffed animals and wearing a synthetic blonde wig. I remember loving my mom so much in that moment.

– Loren Brill

When I was 8 years old, my sister and I would put on a show for my mother in our Brooklyn apartment. It was usually a takeoff of a tv show. I once dressed in a trench coat pretending to be a detective. My mother was in utter joy watching.

– Jerry Krassner

When I was in kindergarten, my mother volunteered to meet with my class and talk to us about art. Among the paintings she showed us was Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans. At the time, I just thought it was cool to have my Mom hanging out. Nothing particularly remarkable happened that day. It may just be the combination of her integrating into my kindergarten classroom combined with the strange image of the enlarged soup label that made the day memorable. I see the sun cascading through the windows onto my mother’s back and shoulders, the children sitting cross-legged at her feet, while she gracefully leads the room. The image in my mind is idyllic, it was pretty thrilling having her there.

– Daniel Ryan

My favorite memory is running to the door to meet mom when she got home from work each weekday evening. I remember the feeling of her lifting me up into her arms and kissing me on the cheek. She was so happy to see me.

When thinking about these responses, I noticed three trends that connected most of these memories:

– presence

– acceptance

– encouragement

In every memory, it was apparent that moms were fully present with their children in the moment. Also, in most stories kids were fully expressing themselves, or trying to do so, and being met with total acceptance and encouragement by their parent.

So you’re a mom or parent and want to make sure you create positive, lasting memories with your children, it seems as though a great way to do so is to develop and be focused on the ability to be present, understanding and encouraging. Easier said than done! Right?

Well, the good news is there are a couple of ways to go about doing this. One option is to make being present a priority, and continuously practice. Maybe even set calendar reminders for yourself to have a few mindful moments throughout the day. Or what about teaming up with your partner and hold each other accountable to being more in the moment? Another way is meditation, a skill that rains your brain to be more present, less stressed and more empathetic.

Research shows that presence and connection are two of the biggest contributors to happiness… so if you’re embracing these tools to be a better mom or parent, you’re also likely to enrich your own memories and overall sense of well-being.

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