I was fortunate enough to live a very happy childhood. I want to create the same atmosphere for my children and I know most of you probably have the same goal. You strive each day to be the best mom you can be and do your very best to create a memorable and happy childhood for your kids, but my message today is that the creation of this happy childhood may not be as difficult as it may seem.

When I look back on it, I don’t think I would change a thing about my upbringing. I get a smile on my face when I think of some of my best memories. Of course we took many exciting trips to the beach, Disney World, and even Hawaii. I also had wonderful birthday parties, and got (mostly) everything on my list to Santa each year, but those aren’t the memories that I cherish the most.

My favorite glimpse into the past has me placed right in my family’s house. Every night after dinner my mom would put on her Barry Manilow record while she washed dishes. She would turn it up extremely loud and sing while she washed. Our kitchen and den were one large room so my sister and I would happily sing along in the den as we danced to “Copacabana” and “It’s a Miracle.” In between washing, my would come out of the kitchen with her soapy hands and dishtowel to spin us around while singing, “She lost her youth and she lost her Tony … now she’s lost her mind … at the Copa!” The memory gives me that warm fuzzy feeling and I just feel pure joy as I can travel back to that time of innocence and happiness. At that moment every night, nothing mattered except the Copacabana, dancing and singing.

Another memory that I cherish is feeding the ducks at a nearby pond. So simple yet so wonderful. We would save the “ends” of our bread each week so we could take them to feed the ducks as a family. I can picture it like it was yesterday. My sister and I would creep up to the ducks to feed them, but then as they got closer we would drop the bread and run back into the arms of my mom and dad as we’d all laugh and watch the ducks gobble up our food. A picture perfect moment that cost nothing and involved little to no planning at all.

My other favorite memories are the times where my parents just allowed us to be kids. As mom cleaned the house and dad mowed the lawn, my sister and I would be free to make up dances on the back porch, explore in the woods, splash in the creek, swing on our swingset (that’s us in the photo above on the monkeybars!), ride bikes with the neighbors, make mud soup in the driveway, join our friends in games of tag, and just enjoy being a child. Those are the days that I remember the most.

Many times we feel the pressure to live life to the fullest and make our children’s lives unforgettable at every moment. The reality is that most memories our children cherish will be the simple memories we create while just being a family and letting our children know we love them.