The memory of a young child is a funny thing. My earliest childhood “memory” was of climbing Mount Rushmore. Which, given that climbing that particular historic landmark is not allowed, would make my memory a load of crap. However, we did take a family vacation to Mount Rushmore when I was two, and I probably had a vivid recollection of climbing on a rock in the parking lot at Pizza Hut or something like that.
The next memory that springs to mind is the day my brother was born; I was two and half years old. I very clearly recall the nurse holding him up to the window for me to see. Then I promptly lost interest, and the memory that is more pronounced in my mind is playing on the waiting room slide after the brief glimpse of my newborn brother. (Apparently I proceeded to go home, stand on my night table and shout, “Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!” but I don’t actually remember that part.)
I have clear and specific memories of each of my parents from my early years. When I was young, my mom stayed home with us, and my fondest memories are simply of being home with her. I remember a game my mom and I used to play daily when I was a toddler; she would lay on her back, I would lay on her tummy, and she’d roll side to side, chanting, “And then we roll this way…and then we roll that way!” I adored that game, along with our other favorite activity of recording us singing into the old cassette player. My prevailing reflections are that I felt comfortable and cherished with my mother.
When I remember my dad during those early years, what stands out in my mind is how much fun we had. He was so compliant with our silly games, and so eager to indulge us. We used to tie him up with my hair ribbons, put him in the basement closet, and then gasp in shock when he was somehow able to break free and find us. I can see flashes of him chasing us around the basement while we screamed and laughed.
When I was a bit older and had learned how to be a pest, I would wander into my parents’ bathroom every morning and watch my Dad shave. I would wait until he poured a capful of Scope into his mouth, and then I would tug his pants and say, “Daddy! Daddy! I need you!” After he’d spit out the mouthwash he’d shake his fist at me in mock frustration and say, “You know I can’t talk when I’m gargling!” and I would laugh and laugh. Every single day. What a hero.
Thinking back on these blurry first memories has caused me to wonder, “What will my girls remember about the first few years of their lives?” Particularly my toddler, as her earliest memories haven’t yet been solidified like my six year old’s have.
- Will she remember the nights of rocking before bed, when I sang our special lullabies?
- Will she remember how I kissed her toes and tummy each time I changed her diaper, making her squeal and giggle?
- Will she remember our delight every time she learned a new animal sound to show us?
- Will she remember her belly laughs and requests for “more” every time I sniffed her toes and exclaimed, “P.U., stinky feet!”
Of course there are moments I hope they will both forget; incidents such as saying the “F-word” when we missed the schoolbus, or zipping a tiny tummy in a hurried effort to get a coat on, or the famous “New Toddler Bed Standoff of 2008”.
And I know that there are very few memories of the first five years that will actually stand the test of time. But I guess I hope that more than remembered snapshots of specific moments, they will retain the emotional imprint of their early years. I would like to think that someday, many years from now when she is grown, my daughter will hear the special song I used to sing to her at night, and though she can’t explain why, she will suddenly feel safe, peaceful, and loved.
My oldest sister literally does not remember anything of her youth. Her memory of anything even now is horrible. I can remember bits and pieces of my youth, and more of my teen years. I think we can access a lot of memories that happened when we were little bitty through a smell or a sound. We may not remember the whole thing but something will be triggered and cause us a brief glimpse of it.
Awwwww this is so beautiful and bittersweet! I always wondered what my kids would remember —now that some of them are adults, I am AMAZED at how much they still remember–and some if it is silly stuff that I don’t even remember! Just keep making those beautiful memories with your children and cherish the moments!
I am sure she will exactly feel what you wish she does when she is grown up! So wonderful!
Awww, this was really sweet!! I don’t know that our kids will remember the individual activities/actions, but they’ll have a sense of love and security that will have come from those things.
P.S. I have a memory of walking on clouds (AKA: riding in an airplane!); isn’t it funny how our little kid brains translate what’s actually happening?!
Walking on clouds…I love that! Yes, the kid-brain translation is truly fascinating!
A lovely post! I think you’re right…less specific moments in the beginning…definitely more overall feelings. I can look at old photos and suddenly be transported back to feelings of joy and happiness in my childhood. I, too, hope that my son will have the same warm feelings and memories when he grows up 🙂
I remember a ton from when I was a kid and sometimes I still amaze my mom as to things I can recall. That said I too have wondered what my girls will remember and just hope like you it is the good times and not as much of the crazy, insane moments!!
Got a little teary, here…*sniff* As always, you nailed the perfect tone to portray the hope that the special moments will stick and the occasional “fuck!” or lost tempers will not. Sigh.
I wonder all the time what my son will remember. Every night, I sing him the same made-up Tucker-songs (to well-known tunes) and hope that he’ll remember them. I hope he won’t remember the days that I turned on the TV so that I could be an un-parent and sit next to him playing on my phone. I hope that he’ll remember me blowing bubbles with him in the back yard and playing endless games of chase, while I hope he doesn’t remember the times that I said “not now, Tucker, mommy has to _____.”
Dude, this post made me want to do a better job of making the most of my time while my baby is so young. <3
Aw, I love the special made-up songs…and I am crossing my fingers that the F word memories just fade away…for both of us… 😉 Those “Not now, mommy has to…” moments make me feel like shit.
I think about this all of the time. I wonder what my kids will remember of their childhoods. I’m totally certain that my parents would be surprised to hear what I remember the most from childhood. It’s mostly snippets and random memories, not something that was supposed to be fantastic.
I *love* the photo of the girls meeting each other.
Your brother’s bow tie and plaid vest made me squee.
This was a great post. I think tonight as we are eating dinner I am going to ask my kids what they remember from growing up. I am curious because we have had our fair share of moving around and we have done a lot of traveling. We have had plenty of good and plenty of bad times as well.
I hate to say it, but my earliest memories are of a hospital. I had an operation when I was three, and vividly remember being in bed and having nurses joke with me as I played with some toy cowboys and indians on the bed. My mother never left my side, sleeping in a chair next to the bed at night. It does make one wonder, for sure. Great post!
Wow, that is amazing that you remember being in the hospital for that. Wonderful that you can remember your mom always being there, rather than remembering being alone. What a good mom…
Beautiful post! I remember hazy images and feelings from my childhood and few vivid memories. But sometimes I wonder how many of my “memories” are actually stories that I made up in my mind about family stories that I’ve heard a million times. There have been a couple times when I “remembered” something and told about my memory to my mom, and she said that I was either not alive yet or wasn’t even there!
Isn’t that fascinating? I wonder the same things. The brain is so intriguing and amazing…
Lovely memories! I can only hope my daughter’s memories are as beautiful as yours! I fear she will remember the not so nice parts more!
That worries me too!