Here is something I have begun to realize lately. It is only after we become parents that we start to cut our own parents any slack. Only once we're in the thick of it do we understand how truly difficult it can be. We look back at that memory of our mom or dad griping at us, or that limit they set, or that punishment they handed out- that at the time seemed unreasonable- and we can see their side of it. And sometimes it really was unreasonable, but we can understand that, too. I've been known to fire off a cutting remark after being asked one too many times why the sky is blue. I've lost my temper. I've blown it.
I used to dread the age of 4 for my children, because I figured that was when they would really start remembering things. My own memories date back from around then. I figured years 1-3 were a grace period where any mistakes I made would probably fade from their memory. But 4, now that's a different story. Now I better be careful because this is going on the permanent hard drive. I realize that is kind of silly in a way, but it reflects my own insecurities about parenting mistakes and a desire to do the very best for them that I can.
Now I try to think of my kids' memories as a blessing, instead of a threat. Sure, there will be some memories of mistakes I have made. I can't eliminate them completely. But there will also be warm memories of the good times we shared. I know that when they are older, they will be able to recall a feeling of being loved, protected, cared for, adored, cherished. I figure they will cut me some slack.