I often say I grew up in Disneyland.
Of course I didn’t live in a fairyfloss coloured castle with Mickey and Minnie as playmates but whenever I think of my childhood I still feel the magic.
When I think of those early years I remember a sense of whimsy and wizardry. My parents encouraged me to get swept away in fairytales and delve into the adventures of whatever book I was fascinated with at the time. And I did.
As a parent now, I often worry about whether I’m making enough effort to give my kids an amazing childhood. I worry that I spend too much time cleaning and doing all the chores adults have to do. I worry that I don’t take them to the park enough or give them experiences and opportunities to create memories that will last a lifetime.
But, while my first thoughts and emotions when I think of those early years are nothing less than magic, my everyday experiences were mostly spent doing ordinary things and helping with the family business. My parents have always been hard-workers and I worked in the family business from a very young age. My Nanna, Aunties and family friends all worked with us and I would be there afterschool, every weekend and every single Christmas Day and New Years Eve.
This was normal to me and I didn’t really think too much about it or make protestations. This was just what I knew and how my family always operated. And even now with my adult reasoning and analytical thinking, the glitter and sparkles that are forever infused in my memory far outweigh the thoughts of weekends spent working.
Studies show that while major events may affect children they are not necessarily the things that shape their view of their early years. Like a lot of kids, I experienced some life-altering events in my early childhood that I had to deal with. My parents are human so they had pressures and stress too. That said, the memories of not so great times barely enter my thoughts. The negatives aren’t what define me and they certainly don’t define my childhood. They aren’t even at the front of my mind.
What is important and what takes first place in my memory is that we were together. Family was always around and I had things I could rely on – communication, routines, traditions and love. I felt that I was my parents priority no matter what and that I was valued. Whenever the opportunity presented, my parents made the effort for us to spend quality time together and it was usually something simple like the movies or going out to lunch. Work commitments kept them from taking family holidays other than a long weekend for many years but when they were finally able to get a little time away they made the trip as special as could be.
Everything to children is new and magical and what is likely to be at the forefront of our children’s minds are the feelings they relate to times with the ones that they love. We may not be able to spend every minute of our days doing things we love with our little ones but we can still create great memories by being present in ordinary moments and sprinkling a little fairy-dust whenever possible.