It’s surprising what we remember from our childhoods, isn’t it?
What’s the criteria for a memory sticking? Certain moments stay crisp and focused — like me sitting around a picnic table at summer camp — while other memories fade into a grainy patchwork — such as the Sharon, Lois, & Bram concert that my dad suffered through in the early ’90s, specifically in the name of MEMORIES.
And how many of our memories are actual memories, when so much of what we remember might be imagined from a photograph, or a home video, or family lore?
I think about this stuff because my son recently turned 5, and so this is about as far back as his memory will ever stretch. The Era of Memory Making is here, and I recognize that it’s all a crap-shoot. Memory fades and conforms, but it can also leave a vibrant impression for decades.
So what will he remember?
It’s a pretty powerful motivator, actually. When I’m trying to gauge what actually matters in life — my priorities on a day-by-day basis — I think, “How do I want him to remember me?”
Do I want him to remember exasperated sighs and “one more minute’s,” or would I rather him remember a warm smile? Do I want him to remember my face looking at my iPhone, or my face watching his ninja moves around the living room? Do I want him to remember me as being distracted and stressed, or as being tuned in and listening?
All I can do is hope that the good ones stay and the inevitable not-so-good ones evaporate into the “vague recollections” section of the brain. (That’s how brains work, right?) All I can do is hope.
I hope that he remembers me putting down the dishes to play a game of Candy Land.
I hope he remembers that one shirt that he always asks me to wear, as he points up in the closet, saying, “This one, Mommy. It looks beautiful on you.”
I hope he remembers the silly voices during bedtime stories, and all of the books that he loved as a kid. (And I hope that when he reads those same books to his kids, the words feel familiar and comfortable, even if he can’t remember how often he asked to read those pages again and again.)
I hope he remembers the smell of my hair from all of those nights that he fell asleep inhaling and exhaling in my arms. And I also hope that when he gets a whiff of that smell, years from now, it’ll bring him back to that safe and warm moment.
I hope he remembers me as someone who said “yes” more often than “no.”
I hope he remembers the love.
I know that’s what I remember. And I know that’s the most important one.
Read more from Michelle at EarlyMama.com.