what we mostly forget

Think back.
Long and hard. Ten Years.
At least twenty. Twenty five. Thirty. If you are old like me.
And what do you remember?

If you are like me a lot is fuzzy.
Things that stand out aren’t exactly the kinds of things you find in photo albums.

My earliest memory is being hit in the head with a pick axe by my cousin.
I swear I heard my skull crack.
But it couldn’t have been that bad in real life because I don’t even think we went to the hospital.
Fast forward a bit. I remember my first grade teacher making me cry because I got my greater than and less than signs backwards.
I remember being punched on the playground in second grade. If I sit here long enough and try more memories will trickle in. And some of them are good and happy and wonderful. But most of them aren't.

I’m sure I played lots of games of chase and at popsicles and go plenty of smiley faces on my papers. I’m sure I made new friends and wowed them with my wit and strawberry shortcake dolls, but mostly I remember when one of them didn’t want to be my friend any more. The ugly and the mean and the hurt and the rejected has a way of sticking in our brains so much stronger than the good and the easy and the everyday.

Sometimes I look at my kids and this life we have had together. And hate that they won’t remember any of it so far. That the dance parties and frogs and snow cones and forts in the living room and water balloon fights and snuggles and stolen kisses will slide right out of their little brains and be replaced by sharp words and wounds and a few traumatic moments instead of the hundreds of good normal everyday joyful ones.

And sometimes I want to force a memory. To have great moments and big birthday parties and vacations and ridiculously happy kids. And to take a billion pictures so that there will be proof. Proof that we were happy. Proof that most of it was good. But I don’t get to choose their memories. They might remember the time I let them cover me from head to toe in stickers. Or they might not. They might remember the time I lost them at Old Navy instead or yelled because I had a long day. I make a lot more dinners and beds than I make memories. I am making the everyday. And these moments still mean something even if the won’t be called up so clearly in twenty or twenty five or even fifty years.

These moments. These everyday little ones. Are shaping my kids. This is who they will be and how they will live. This will be their default. The natural rhythms and attitues and patterns that will make up their core. And surely some of these moments will sink in and stand out and fill in all the spaces between the wounds.
(and this was part 3 of momalom's five for ten. today's topic: memory. click on over for tons of other good reads)


Corinne said...

One of the hardest things for me, as a mother, is knowing I can't control their memories. It's terrifying to think about what they will chose to remember.

Justine said...

"But I don’t get to choose their memories." You are so right. It breaks my heart but my own memories shaped me into the person I am today and I'm proud of her, so I will just have to trust that theirs will too.

Alisha said...

That is so true...we do forget so much. But I'm sure they will remember a lot of the good :)

SuziCate said...

It is funny what we pick and choose to remember. I know my sister and I have been at the very same event and remeber different part of it or my mother has a distintly different memory (or perception) of something that happened. I also wonder how my kids will remember the same things I do...how greatly will our memories vary? Interesting post.

C (Kid Things) said...

Oh, I loved this. My very first memory involves getting sick over a plum all over a preschool table. Not the kind of thing I want to remember, but I've never forgotten. I'm hoping my kids' memories are a bit better, but it's not something we can control.

ShannonL said...

It's so hard knowing that they might not remember the happy times that we create for them. But they might remember the crappy moments when we lose our patience. It really makes me sad... Makes me want to do better, to try harder.

Kisha said...

I think making more beds and dinners than memories is important-they will remember that no matter what, you were always there. Always there taking care of them. And that is the important part. You can't have the good without the bad, but the constant-that's what makes good little people, in my opinion. Beautiful job with this piece.

Launa said...

Not only can't we control their little memories... we shouldn't want to.

(And if I ever held an enormous party like the one you described, I'm sure the memories would be of sheer disaster...)

I loved your photo.

Terry Castle said...

Really nice piece. I wonder too what they will remember. I don't want to think about it too much in fear that they will remember me having a menopausal moment. Not pretty.

Hopefully they will remember some of the laugher.

Rudri said...

Love the pic. Children will remember what they want to remember. So true. Wish it wasn't that way, but it is.

Stacia said...

I love the idea of having a "default" for memories, a setting that you can always go back to when your brain needs a reboot. Good stuff.

Amber said...

That pick axe memory really made me cringe. How painful!!

I hope that my kids remember the good things, too. I guess that's why I keep a family journal. A place to record the goods AND the bads. That way when they come to me in the future with a laundry list of complaints about their childhood, I can show them the book and gently correct them. : )

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Guilty as charged: "And sometimes I want to force a memory." And I see my friends doing this too. Trying so hard to create experiences that we forget that the best memories, as you say, so often come from the moments we haven't planned at all.

Margie said...

This is good all around. Would type more but am on my phone. But had to comment. Good.

Sarah said...

Oh there are so many little gems caught within this post. Forcing memory: YES. So much of life forgotten: YES. But I have to believe that while we may forget the details of the lives we live now--lives that we live for our children--we are creating a feeling of embrace that both we and our children can look back on fondly.

I have been speaking with my mother a lot about memory as a result of this topic. She laughs at how fickle her memory is. And swears she (and I) remember so little of the specifics. But we have both come away with an overall feeling of fondness for a time we had together as a family.

And as she says, we have our blogs now. Something she wishes that she had when she was there in the trenches of motherhood. We are cataloguing these memories here in time and space, with words and pictures, in a way that is new and beautiful. I have to believe that doing this will help to make that feeling of fondness more concrete for me and my kids as time marches on.

Lovely post.