Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Novel?

So I'm reading this book, "Those Who Save Us," and the story goes back and forth between Germany in the early 1940's and the United States in the late 1990's. The "child," (now a grown woman), begins to remember bits and pieces of her early childhood, mostly from her dreams...but it is amazing to me what children remember and what they completely forget as adults. It got me thinking...

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 (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" 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...


  1. Who's inspired NOW?
    Can I just say... I needed this?
    I love you.

  2. I wonder about stuff like this all the time. Will my kids remember a good personality on me or just the fact that I am a big grouch? :S

  3. WOW! What a great post! I ponder and reflect often about this. It is amazing what effects us.

  4. I don't really remember the mundane, only the traumatic and really happy. I guess I'm weird.

  5. Wow. My thoughts exactly....

    My oldest is 4 (the others are 3 and 7 months), and on the days when I completely lose it I pray that he's still too little to remember the bad stuff for more than a week or two. In my heart I really believe he'll remember some of it--but I hope that I can stuff enough good memories in to force out the bad. I'm still working on it.

  6. I thank God every day that Solei doesn't remember what I was like the first year of her life. And I remember no matter how psycho my mom got, I still craved/crave her arms around me. Mommies have awesome pherimones(sp?)

  7. I'm loving this post. I don't remember a lot in my childhood, but these are priceless things that I love that you remember. Too cute. I sure hope Lorelei remembers only the good stuff, or I'm in trouble.

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  9. I didn't have time to comment much when I read this but I was going to tell you something cool that I have learned.

    The POWER of your WORDS... I know that sounds cliche but it is so true. No matter what happened in your children's lives and what they remember now you ultimately have the power to change memories. I hope that isn't misunderstood.

    You have taken SO many pictures of your kids. Go over those pictures often with them and tell the stories of what is going on. Make the stories fun and elaborate. What you say about each of those pictures can mold their memories. If enough memories are fed into them when they are young with pictures to back them up the odds and ends will be more complete.

    What is said over and over can be more powerful in making memories than what we realize. :)

    Anywho.... just something to think about. :)

  10. You've got me thinking now...

  11. I love your site! I stumbled upon it and it is quite extraordinary. Okay - here are some early memories, in no particular order:

    I remember the first film I ever saw in a theatre: it was "Ragtime". I think it came out in 1980. It starred James Cagney - his last film. My father wanted my brother and I to have said we saw a Cagney movie in the theatre.

    I remember something bad had happened to someone famous and that it was all over the news and radio, and I remember feeling sadness (a relatively new experience at the time)and fear when his songs came on the radio. It was John Lennon. My dad took us down to the Dakota where all the fans were lined up along the barricades. I have two old photographs from that day that I should post on my blog.

    And lastly ... I remember pocketing gum after my Dad and I went to see a movie. He asked me where I got it and I told him I stole it and he had me walk it back and hand it back to the register person. I was crying and I was thoroughly embarrassed.

    Anyway .... there you go .... was nice dropping in - look forward to reading more!


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