One Christmas, my parents bought all my toys at yard sales. Maybe they did this other years, too, but I specifically remember my mom telling me about this particular year. One of the gifts was a 70s metal dollhouse was a dream come true.
I posted this story on Instagram, asking you to tell us something that your parents did that they might have felt fell short at the time, but that felt like magic to you as a child.
The stories you told were absolutely heartwarming and I wanted to share them here today.
“When I was a kid, on Sunday nights my mom would make popcorn, M&Ms, apple slices, and root beer floats for dinner. She was in medical school and was exhausted. We watched America’s Funniest Home videos together and I thought it was the most magical night. Now as a momma myself, I realize that she was too tired to cook and needed a break.”
“After my parents got divorced, my mom lived in a small, one bedroom apartment. She, my sister, and I all slept in one room- my sister and I alternated between sleeping in bed with my mom and sleeping on a body pillow on the floor. It felt like an adventure and the best sleepover ever! Getting to sleep on the floor on a body pillow was the prime spot. Always felt magical!”
“Our parents took us to Toys R Us on Christmas Eve and let us pick one gift. Later I learned that this was because they had no money before then.”
“My parents couldn’t afford a Cabbage Patch Kids doll, so my mom made me one. I had no idea, until high school, that they weren’t genuine.”
“For several years, I remember my mom driving us to the country roads, taking a machete to cut down a small Charlie Brown-esque tree to spray paint white so we could decorate it for Christmas. I don’t actually remember if there were actually any gifts under the tree, but I remember those trees.”
“When I was 10, my mother spent months hand sewing Barbie and doll clothes for a Christmas. We lived in Germany and finding doll clothes was next to impossible. She apologized as I opened it because they weren’t ‘real’ but there were hundreds of unique outfits that I fell in love with. As an adult, now I know how much she put into it and it will always remain one of the best present she ever gave me. I kept and passed them on to my own daughter.”
“We had literally no money. Dinner was my parents sitting at the dinner table with us and saying they weren’t hungry, so my brother and I could eat. So, one year we were five and six my mom went to the dollar store and got a few coloring books, a couple boxes of crayons, a few packs of socks, a couple candy bars- stuff like that. We thought it was so awesome that we didn’t get clothes that year and were SO happy. When I was a new mom, with Christmas on its way, my mom told me she cried that year because Christmas couldn’t be more for us. I told her that was one of our favorite Christmases because it was so different than all the others, and we hated getting clothes!”
“Our lights got shut off more than a few times growing up. My mom said it made her cry at night and feel genuinely awful, but we thought candlelit pizza picnics inside were literally magic.”
“My mom was a young, divorced single mom until I was almost 5. It was nearly impossible to make ends meet. She used to let me build cities in the kitchen for my dinky cars with pots and pans, and cookie sheets as ramps. She’d let me dress up in her clothes and we’d have a dance party. We got everywhere on her bike with a kids seat on the back, or by bus. All magical.”
Share these stories with someone who could use reassuring that a magical childhood doesn’t come from parental perfection or and endless budget.
Your kids will remember the time you spend with them and the feelings they had. They don’t have the frame of reference or the experience to know when something isn’t going to plan or isn’t the way you remember it being when you were a child.
The tiniest moments will feel like magic to your kids. Remember this the next time you feel like you’re failing or even flailing. If you did your best and you loved your kids today, that’s all that matters and you’re doing great.