What are some of your earliest childhood memories? I bet they are nothing spectacular or horribly traumatic, right? My memories as a three year old consist of a red door on our old house and fake butterflies on the walls, a blue plastic fridge downstairs somewhere, my mother (a nurse) giving us our immunization shots at home (which I thought was completely normal by the way), once in Oklahoma I remember her wallpapering my room with some girlfriends and I had to stay with a friend the WHOLE.entire.day (it was annoying and made me homesick)...but anything spectacular or traumatic? No.
Once I was old enough to go to school I began to remember my life by grades. Memories of kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, and so on...with only bits and pieces in between. One particular memory is of my mom helping me get ready for school in the morning. She put my clothes on the heating vent to get warm while she made breakfast, and I wore a blue puffy coat to school that day. Particularly spectacular or horribly traumatic? No.
I remember asking my mom to time me as I ran a circle around the house, practicing for T-ball. I remember sweeping the porch and being afraid of the toads that hid behind the grill. I remember playing with the string from the blinds and teasing my cat. I remember being in the garage as my mom got a pound of ground beef from the deep freezer when a can of juice fell out and landed on her foot- she yelled, and though I knew it wasn't my fault, I apologized for it anyway. Was it anything spectacular or horribly traumatic? NO- but it is a moment I will never forget. I just don't know why.
What is it about a particular experience that forms a lasting memory? I need to know! I worry all the time about the damage I am doing to my kids with the constant mood swings, the ups and downs of depression, my constant fight to find "quiet time" and "leave mommy alone so she can rest" time...how is all of this going to effect my children? What memories will they have of their early childhood when they are 29 years old and reflecting on some book they read spawning a sleepless night filled with worry and dread?? What will my children talk about when they get together 20 years from now and play the "remember when..." game? Will they be talking about their crazy mother and how it's a wonder they all survived without years of therapy?
Will Tiny remember the time I lost my temper because she lost the only picture I had of my grandparents with all three of my children? Will she remember that I completely lost control because it was no where to be found?? Or will she remember the next day, how I tried to comfort her and tell her I was sorry and that it was "no big deal" and that mommy could always get another picture? Will Sweetie remember that I got irritated with her when she couldn't ride her bike without a push? Or that I picked her up late at night and snuggled her, reassuring her that she was the absolute sunshine in my life? Will Bud-duh remember how pissed off I got in the mornings to find he had once again wet his pants and soaked the couch cushions? Or will he remember the lullaby I sang to him every night before he fell asleep?
Perhaps they won't remember any of those things. Perhaps they will only remember the bits and pieces of being a child that make no sense...memories that will have them questioning the reasons behind those lasting impressions years down the road.
And maybe by then I’ll have forgotten the depressing recollections from "early motherhood" and remember only the gratifying facets of raising my children...