what will they remember?

Two years ago I attended the Catalyst Conference.ย  I filled up page after page of notes from the conference and continue to be challenged by so much of what the different speakers shared. Brene Brown spoke on being vulnerable. One of the things she said was, “you can choose comfort or courage, but you can’t have both.” Those words come to my mind all the time in so many different facets of life. Andy Stanley challenged the audience that it is better to make a difference than to make a point. John Acuff reminded me that I can never out dream God. Craig Groeschel spoke of the beauty of being known for what you are FOR not what you are against.

Erwin McManus poured out words to my creative soul on what it means to be uniquely human and reminded me to Go. Dream. Risk. Create. And Make because I was made to make.

Another speaker to take the stage was Reggie Joiner. What he shared was both my least favorite and favorite. He had a large jar of marbles on the stage with him. Each marble represented one week most parents get with their kids from birth through year 18. Each week a marble is removed. It was a visual picture of how little time we get with our kids and how quickly we lose that time. Part of me felt really depressed and yucky inside about the whole thing. It just felt negative. The other part of me appreciated the punch in the gut. Reggie shared how when we visually see how much time we have left it often brings great focus and intention to our lives. One of his main points was after we die really the only people that will remember us are those that know us now. With a little time, the memory of our lives fades except among those that are the very closest to us. What we pour out into those closest to us – that is what lasts after we are gone.

I’ve been thinking about what my kids will remember about me. Not necessarily when I am gone from this earth, but in general. When they think of me now and when they think of me years from now…what will they remember?

Will they remember patience or a short temper?

Will they remember more laughter than heavy sighs?

Will they remember me as a mom that smiled often?

How will my voice sound in their head? It is soft and soothing or coarse and hard?

Will they think of me as one that slowed down and really heard them or one that just rushed about?

Will they have felt more important than my to-do list, my work, my phone?

Will they feel that I truly saw and heard them?

What will they think of when they picture Chris and I together?

I am thankful I am given today with them and I hope I am given decades to come. So much I want to pour out into them and build up in them. I want to write a beautiful story on their hearts. One response. One spoken word. One facial expression at a time.

3.15momAfter looking through pictures of the kids and I, a couple thoughts come to mind: 1. It is easy to be a mom in pictures. 2. I hope I smile as much in the day to day as I do in pictures. 3. The two older boys that do not like ‘selfies’ with their mom are going to have to get over it.

What are some things you think of when you think of your parents? The good and the not so good (if you feel comfortable sharing)….


back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - I’m so uncomfortable in pictures Ashley, comes from a long line of women uncomfortable in pictures, but I’m doing my best to ‘get over it’, one picture at a time. I want my kids to have concrete memories of themselves AND me, something they can grab onto and hold. Proud of you making all those memories.

  • kassondra - My mom was a very hard working single mom. We knew she loved us and would do everything and anything for us to have a better life. But she hardly ever told us. She is not very affectionate. She was always there to talk and showed her love in a thousand different ways. I just don’t remember many hugs, kisses or the words “I love you.” My husband and I make it a point at least 3 times a day we tell our girls how much we love them and give lots of hugs.

  • Suzanne - Just this morning as I sat down with my cup of coffee, I looked up and noticed, truly noticed, the sun shining into my living room and it was lighting up a picture of my dad with my youngest on his back. My dad and mom worked and continue to work hard and some times I did not see much of my dad, especially in the summer. But the time he spends (they both spend) with my kids is amazing and priceless and for that, I am grateful and store up those memories and treasures in my heart. I hope my kids see this and also how important our family is in their lives.

  • Cheyenna - so beautiful.

  • sarah - such beautiful words and a wonderful reminder this morning to really stop and think about how my son thinks of me. All too often I feel I am that mom that yells and looses her temper too much. And everyday I remind myself I get a fresh start to try again. Some days are better than others but it’s on the hard days I feel like that’s what he will always remember. I’m learning and growing as a mother and trying my best to make all the days ‘good days’. thank you for the beautiful words and reminder Ashley!

  • Julie - Just what I needed to hear today. Thank you Ashley!!!

  • Jenn - oh my this was perfect. the first paragraph (needed it) the second, understand the punch in the gut reaction. thank you for sharing. i just read Sarah’s comment above and that is me too. i want every day to be a new day that we start over and it be a good day but i worry that the bad ones will be the ones they remember. I don’t want to be a loose my temper mom. i love my kids and want to enjoy and love every moment with them because the time is way, way to short.

  • Angie - Ugh. This made me feel miserable…mostly because I am always so “busy” and so when I talk to my small people, I’m usually rushing them or shushing them. Thanks for the reminder, Ashley. I wish someone would tattoo it on my arm so I don’t forget before I even get home from work today!

  • Anamaria - I have been a reader of your blog for a while now but have never commented before, but today, I wanted to thank you. You are so generous in your writings and share so much of yourself here in this space. I want to let you know that you have made a difference in my life – that somewhere far from you is another woman who is a mother who wants to live a good life and be a good person, and that your words reach her and matter. You inspire me and make me reflect on my own life and push me to be a better person. Thank you so much. People like you make the world a better place.

  • Christy - Wow… I really needed that today! Thanks for reminding me to live in the moment and to make memories with the ones I love:-)).

  • candice - I think about this often…how will they remember me? We homeschool as well which means they are almost always with me. I’m thankful for grace and mercy and the newness of everyday. I dont have many happy memories of childhood. They are few and far between…I grew up with addicts. So for me becoming a parent was a frightening thought…Thankfully I now know and understand that I am not my parents and that my kids aren’t going to have the same life I did. Thank you for sharing and choosing to be vulnerable in this space. I read your blog pretty much daily and it helps me in so many ways. Have a great day!

  • Seaminglysarah Sarah - I always remember how my mom would apologize, pull us aside to correct us so we weren’t embarassed in front of others, was always watching and listening-she knew what was going on in my world, and told me I was beautiful.

    My dad may have been rougher around the edges, still is, but I remember learning to do things right, be more assertive, work hard and always tell the truth.

  • Tiffany - Wow! this sounds like an excellent conference. Thanks for sharing your notes today, I definitely enjoyed reading these reminders and learning a little something too.

  • Elisabeth - I had a very happy childhood and have many great memories of my parents. My mom stayed home with us, but I also was a daddy’s little girl, so I have wonderful memories of both of them. I remember exploring outdoors with both of them, gardening and baking with my mom, and helping my dad with his various projects. From middle school on, though, my memories are a bit more mixed- still lots of love, but also a lot more fighting and yelling and anger (I don’t blame my parents for that completely- I was extremely stubborn and emotional). I wish we fought less, but there were also many wonderful times mixed in with those. I don’t have kids yet, but I want to deal with my future kids better during those teenage/pre-teen years.

  • ranee - thank you so very much for this post. these are things i have been thinking about lately and your words spoke to me directly this morning. you challenge me to remember the important things and relish in the beauty of each day and i am so thankful for that.

  • Kate S. - My mom and I have always been very different people, but have always had a good relationship in spite of our differences. The only negative things I really remember about my mother are that she was constantly nagging about waste–“you use too much shampoo” or “you wear out your clothes too fast” or “don’t you dare eat more than one per day.” We weren’t poor, so I think this is just part of her personality. She still does it today.

    I wouldn’t criticize her for that, but buoyed by my grandmother’s negative body issues and her own, she tried to force her thoughts on body image onto me throughout my childhood. Even though I was a confident happy girl, unusually comfortable with my body, she tried to force me and/or bribe me to diet, change my modes of exercise, refused to buy clothes over a certain size (so that I was buying my own clothing with my allowance by high school). This still bothers me deeply today.

    But the good things? There are so many good things. She took us everywhere with her; it was probably annoying to other adults, but we went to every baby shower, ever birthday party, ever wedding, everywhere she went. She spent virtually all of her time with us. She involved us in her hobbies (I learned basket making when I was nine!). When my sister’s father became abusive to me, she left him for it and then worked unbelievably hard to keep us in the lifestyle we were used to. She has always supported me, believed in me, encouraged me, and also accepted my decisions. She forgave me when I made enormous mistakes and loved me still. She was really a VERY good mother to me and gave me a childhood worth remembering.

  • Kelly - I really needed these words today… thank you, Ashley.

  • suzy - I used to only think of the bad and hard things. The times they spoke mean words, the things I witnessed. However, as I have grown up and had kids, I think more of how they did the best they could for what they knew. My dad in Vietnam and doing what he could everyday to survive the demons of that. My mom abused as a child but tried to overcome it in non healthy but still made an effort. Now as grandparents, they have apologized and that is what I can remember when they go. The fact that they were trying to figure out so much, but loved us so much. They have become who they have always been meant to be.

  • Lisa Vinograd - I had what I call a “charmed childhood”. Yes, my mom yelled, and actually spanked us now and again, but in general we felt BIG love. We lived in a tight knit community (Laguna Beach, CA) participated in activities, took TOO MANY family trips, felt loved, cared for, and important. My dad wasn’t able to decide if we could sleep over at a friends house, or anything really (my mom knew the schedule), but I have fond memories of him saying “yes…well…we better ask your mother”. Being a kid is so wonderful. So innocent. Happy times.

  • J. - I think about your relationships a lot. I remember that you meet your grandparents weekly for breakfast? Your Dad helping you build a chicken coop? Family that helps you build an addition on your home? Sisters that support one another & have birthday parties for their nieces? Can families really be like that? You are incredibly blessed. My relationship with my parents is not good. My mom is very critical and has never liked me. She used to brag that she spanked me daily. I’ve always known that she loved me because I was her child, but didn’t like me. I was high energy; I didn’t fit her “good girl” mold. We are the family that looked nice, had money, involved in church, dressed well and looked perfect to others. I was constantly reminded NOT to ruin their reputation.
    My only brother was very compliant, thoughtful, and well on his way to taking over the family business until he fell ill, during his teen years with mental illness. My mom devoted herself to making him better but the experimental treatments/meds only made him worse (and extremely spoiled by her). She is very fragile/bitter/embarrassed because of this. She is emotionally spent. I am her “whipping boy”, the other child who will never measure up. She calls me to unload.
    She loves my children but she is equally critical of them, except the oldest. She adores my oldest because she is “perfect” in her mind just like my brother was, once. All 5 of my children notice the partiality that she shows. When I’ve tried to point out any of this, she gets emotional and starts stating everything she has been through with my brother and that I don’t need to put her through more.
    Dad is passive. He is a workaholic who keeps his head down & mouth shut. I call him on is cell phone every now & then to check on him. He assures me that it’s not “all in my mind” and that continuing to live with her is just as hard for him yet he will defend her because he loves her dearly. I am not close with him. As a child, he worked from before I woke up to dark every night. Dad never attended any of my plays/recitals/performances/school stuff. I have a handful of joy-filled memories of buying a bike with him or playing in the waves at the beach but, mostly, I don’t know him.
    My husband and I have 5 children. This is an embarrassment to my parents because it is entirely too large family, in their eyes, so they make fun of us like we’re circus freaks. We homeschool. We attachment parent. I pour into my family as much as I possibly can. I wish I had a truly godly, loving family in my life so I could be more assured that I am parenting & loving my own family well rather than just trying to do the opposite of what my family did. I struggle with trying to continue to honor my parents (and I am not even sure of the biblical extent of this in the adult years) and trying to maintain my distance from them so I don’t continue to get hurt. I love my mother and struggle with not wanting to hurt her back. I struggle with wanting make sure my children are protected from my mom yet not wanting to create any bitterness. My husband & our children are my joy and I thank God for them.

  • MC - My house was not a nice place to grow up, but I hardly think about that now. My husband and I are just too busy focusing on our boys, making a nice home for them. I hope they will remember the good things (the outdoor activities, the four of us watching a movie in bed, the jokes, etc) but I know they will also remember me not being patient enough, me being cranky and sometimes screaming. Sometimes I feel those negative moments are so powerful that they will erase all the good things. Maybe it will not be like that, but the possibility makes my heart hurt.

  • Kate - I think about this all the time, mainly because my dad passed away suddenly when I was 4.5 months pregnant with our first child. She is now five and we’ve added two more kids to our family since then. I LOVE being a mom! I find so much joy and purpose in loving and pouring into my children. Losing my dad has been one of the hardest and most painful things I’ve ever experienced, but God is working even this terrible loss for good. I feel that the shock and timing of his death has given me a long vision for my own family and regularly influences how I treat them. I delight so much in my own children because I know what a gift it is to love them. I cherish our time together (and with other loved ones too) because I know it flies by and that we never know just how much time we have with them here on earth. I now know what a gift the unconditional love of a parent truly is–something I didn’t even realize I took for granted until it was gone. My dad was my biggest encourager. I knew this, but not how much until he was gone. I want my kids to really know how much I love and delight in them. I want to be their biggest encourager, shouting hope into their hearts. And I know I won’t do it perfectly. But I also know that God loves them even more than I do. I am so thankful for that as well! On the flip side, I have few good memories of my mom. And although she was very verbally abusive growing up, God has worked in her heart as well since my dad passed. She is an amazing grandma to my children. And although that part of our past is painful, God is continuing to restore my relationship with her. It is not that I am never tempted to lose my temper or speak harshly, but I know the damage that causes, and I don’t want to be that person in my children’s lives. God has given me grace to be the mom I wish I had and hope I continue to be.

  • susie - I have been thinking about this lately- I am 9 months pregnant and have had a cold for the last couple of weeks and all it feels like I have energy to do is look at the computer and nothing important. I have felt like I haven’t done enough with the kids- and was thinking, I hope they remember me in a positive way instead of this lazy mom! The years do go by fast.

  • Milky - great post Ashley. I think about this often. My four are 10, 7, 2, and 2 months. I want to make the most of these days.

  • Martina - You are such an inspiration to me as a mom! Thank you for keeping up with this beautiful and encouraging space on the internet. I’ve been a reader of many blogs for many years, and have followed yours since before your older daughter was born. It’s always been a favorite!

  • Emily - I want the to remember that even though I have a short temper when I’m tired (or stressed, or ill, or hungry…) that I let them sleep on my chest when they’re sick, no matter how old they are and that I laugh at their jokes even when they’re not really funny. And that I encouraged them to explore and so many other things.

    What a timely post this is – I was just talking to my husband the other night at dinner about how our 5 year old is going to have concrete memories now but our 2.5 yr old won’t yet…and how that informs our parenting. We don’t like the habits it allows to form when we assume they won’t remember. This post is a nice reminder to behave as though they’re going to remember it all.

    And also to take more selfies with them ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jenny B. - I often feel like you did when I hear or read things like the jar of marbles. I don’t like to think about that stuff, and if I’m being honest, it makes me feel like a failure. Everyone’s different, but feeling like a failure makes me want to give up, not try harder. I don’t think the speaker was wrong or mean to present it like that. Different ideas motivate different people in different ways. Some of us greatly benefit from being reminded of all the things we are or could be missing out on. Some of us need to be told we’re already doing a good job to have the strength to try to do an even better job (I am one of those people). I read an article a few years ago that was along the same lines, but instead of leaving me feeling downtrodden, it left me feeling encouraged. It was “Don’t Carpe Diem” by Glennon Melton. What I basically took away from it was that there are moments of joy in every day, and that I need to recognize those moments and savor them. There will be bad moods, flared tempers, and mistakes made. That’s part of life, and we can’t expect perfection from ourselves or our children. So, my goal is to share a few moments of joy with my children each day. My own mother had her fair share of bad moods and moments of frustration, but those are not the things I remember most. I hope that my children will also remember the good, even if the good didn’t technically outweigh the bad every single day.

  • Emily Betzler - Ohhhh, I love the idea of a visual reminder and the act of taking a marble out each week – definitely puts things into perspective.

    I would describe my mom as selfless, fun, and hard working!

  • Cora - Growing up my parents were always very affectionate with each other; hugs, kisses, holding hands, my dad always had his arm around my mom sitting in church and when they would go for a drive and they were the only ones in the car my mom would slide over next to my dad and sit right up against him. Like teenagers-only they had six kids! My parents were always affectionate with us too. Said “I love you” everyday to all of us.
    Some negative memories; my dad had a temper and would get very angry at times and overreact. My mom seemed grouchy a lot. I vividly remember thinking as a child “why is she so grumpy?” “Can’t we just have fun?!” My mom never came on school field trips with us. That made me sad.
    Those are my strongest memories from childhood.

  • julie - Dear Ashley,

    I always love reading your thoughts about parenthood..so inspiring every time! Making memories for my children is my daily goal even if it’s hard sometime. I often think of the image my children will keep of their parents when they will be adults. Several years ago we bought (as you do) a vintage french trailer that we have totally renovated. We spend so much good time in this old lady! I dream my kids will talking about this at their own children..
    My parents wasn’t really presents for us. I remember, as a child, thinking that I didn’t have to disturb them. Parents and children was like two different worlds and sometimes we connected when my parents decided it..However, I don’t blame them. They made what they could with their own history. Today they are really good grandparents who play and laugh and hugs our children!!!
    I hope you understand my english..I apologize if I made mistakes!
    Have a good day!

  • Hannah - Having just become a mum (5 weeks in!) this post really touched me. You write so beautifully and so often what you write challenges me and inspires me. There is so much that I am thankful for in how my parents raised me but the one thing that stands out is how they always had time for me,they were never too busy. This is something I really hope our daughter thinks of us when she is older- time is such a precious gift!

  • Crystal - Ashley…as always, so encouraging…I need to hear these questions daily! The good needs to outweigh the bad SOO much as it’s seemingly much easier to remember the bad. Or at least that’s been my experience. ๐Ÿ™‚ I had not heard of Erwin McManus until my sis in law, who used to go to his church in CA, referred a podcast to me, and he is so encouraging! I was actually just listening to him again. Anyway, I love everything you shared as it’s been some convictions on my heart lately and I need to be reminded! Some of the points you mentioned from the conference were what builds unity among believers…like what we are for, not against, and better to make a difference and not a point. So true. The more I focus on these, the more unity I feel among believers and that is so important to Christ and His glory! so, amen to all this!

  • Jolene - So good for me to hear! I struggle with all those questions too. My prayer is that I am a Mom after God’s heart. Thanks for the encouragement today ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Mothering in the Moments. - Crazy.Simple.Love - […] read a blog post yesterday by Ashley of Under The […]

  • Hazel - My dad and I had a horrible past. But somewhere in between my childhood and adulthood, he changed. And I remember him as the changed man – the patient, the giving, the loving one; even though we had a very rough past. My mother is always on a rush, always busy, always quite rough. And sadly, I picked it up from her – the rushing, the roughness. I want my children to remember me differently though. Not the busy mom, not the rough mom, not the nagging mom but i want them to remember me as the gentle one.

  • Miriam - Even though I don’t have children yet this is something I often think of for the future. My parents are good loving parents but they have flaws like anyone & some of those impacted me a lot as a child & as an adult. I know my Mum loves me but as a child I always felt like a nuisance to her. My impression of her was that she was always annoyed & in a bad mood and the amount of time she spent correcting us & disciplining us made me feel like I couldn’t do anything right. I remember a lot of short temper, yelling & heavy sighs! I don’t ever remember my Mum really seeing or hearing me at all. I don’t remember her ever just having fun with us or trying to get to know us, at times I doubted she even liked me – although I know she would tell me that’s ridiculous! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    On the positive side I do have great memories of my parents telling me that they loved me, of bedtime prayers & safe comforting goodnight hugs. I remember my Dad would willingly give me lifts when I needed even if he had been working all day & there are lots of other little memories like that which remind me how much I was loved, even if I wasn’t always cherished!

    I love the idea that it is so important to pour into the lives of those close to us and I hope I do that with my immediate family & my future family.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Yesterday, I heard a beautiful talk about how to raise brave little ones. Do I say “be careful?” more than I say “you’ve got this, mommy is here with you.” Do I say “watch out” more than I say “oh have fun! you can do it!”.

    The voice I am today will be the voice they hear in 15, 20, 25 years. I want the voice that they hear to be strong and brave!

  • Andrea - This was exactly what I needed to hear. Wow. Thank you so much for reminding me of what’s important from my kids perspective. I have tears and a heavy heart but I am hopeful for the future. Thank you xx

  • Nicole C - I’m just scrolling thru your blog because it’s been a while. I have to say, you remind me a lot of my own Mom, and you even look a little like she did when she was younger. Even your small frame size, but mostly personality. I can see how your kids will remember you, because it’s how I remember my Mom. Yet, it’s hard to explain because it’s so wonderful. I didn’t realize how amazing my Mom was until much later in life. Everyone saw what a shiny light in this world she is, a rarity. A spunky, intelligent, loving, wacky, huge heart, giving, fighter of a soul. As she gets older though I see some qualities that her side of the family comes out, the deep sighs. They drive me crazy, so I try to remind her to not worry about things so much. I’m picking up her mannerisms now too.