Cherish the Moment and Forget the Past
After several conversations with my children, I have come to a startling revelation – apparently someone else raised them. Or, at the very least, they grew up in a home that did not include me. Another possibility – an alien did one of those mind-erase probes on my brain and wiped out every memory I have my kids growing up. That last one actually seems the most plausible of the three.
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After several conversations with my children, I have come to a startling revelation – apparently someone else raised them.
Or, at the very least, they grew up in a home that did not include me. Another possibility – an alien did one of those mind-erase probes on my brain and wiped out every memory I have my kids growing up. That last one actually seems the most plausible of the three.
Lost in Space
Good ol’ Days
Matthew and I were out on a walk, and as he often does, he peppered me with questions.
He usually asks the same questions every day – ranging from how was your day at work (God bless him he really cares, or at least pretends to) to what’s for dinner, and “when you were a kid…” litanies. From my perspective, these interrogations require very little thinking on my part. Mindless banter in most ways. Except the other day -- he stumped me.
“What was the first word I said?”
My only response was a slight drop of my jaw and darting eyes while I tried desperately to answer the question. Just like an animal senses fear, my son sensed mine.
“What was Tommy’s?”
More eye-darting and jaw-slacking.
“How about Kaitlyn’s first word?”
That one I knew. Phew.
What’s For Dinner?
We kept walking, and my mind raced. I finally asked my 13-year-old son, “Why don’t I remember those things?”
He said, “What’s for dinner?”
In the grand realm of philosophical thinking and symbolism, I could take his answer to my question to mean, “It doesn’t matter what has already happened, what matters is what’s happening now.”
But really, he just wanted to know what I was making for dinner. I actually started to get concerned because as I thought back to when Kaitlyn and Tommy were babies, I didn’t remember the milestones. Then I realized, I didn’t remember Matthew’s – and given his numerous health scares and the fact that we’re not that far removed from those days – that’s terrible.
Really terrible. Dear God, the child did not utter a syllable (seriously, not exaggerating) for the first year of his life – you’d think I’d remember something as momentous as his first word. How pathetic.
As the true glutton for punishment that I am, I then compared myself to my mother – who had 5 children, pretty much close in age (as opposed to my nicely spaced 3 kids).
I am the youngest of the brood – and would have understood if my baby book was sparse on details and milestones. However, my mom was a detail-driven, organized-to-the-point-of-an-obsession warrior, and my baby book was just as detailed, if not more, than my sister’s (the oldest).
My mom kept a scrap book for each of us, complete with greeting cards, notes about gifts that we received for each birthday and Christmas, little mementoes and keepsakes. She had created an entire Hallmark store out of her kids’ early years.
Because of her great attention to detail I know when I was 3 I loved to stand at the front door and watch the birds. I know what my favorite toys were when I was 15 months old. That I loved to be read to, and what books I loved. And that I loved to follow my big sister around. And that I didn’t like carrots, but loved green beans.
A Full Time Job
All I can tell you about Kaitlyn’s dietary habits is that Jim and I would flip a coin to see who had to feed her.
Plums always made their way to the wall, and I rationalized that squash was a healthy conditioner for my hair. She was a nightmare. I had very few mental snapshots of Kaitlyn’s major events, which kind of unnerved me. It would stand to reason that I’d have something of her life tucked away – she was my first, after all.
And as all veteran parents understand, your firstborn is always considered to be the best baby ever born in the history of babies being born. So, as a dutiful historian, parents record (either by video or the beautiful written word) everything the baby does, sees, smells, feels, tastes and spews. It can be a full-time job, if you let it. Clearly, I didn’t let it.
Kaitlyn’s baby book has details and milestones, and I even had a calendar for her first year.
I was able to record (via stickers) when she rolled over, sat up, her first tooth, her first step, all the major events. I was also able to record -- like a diary -- my days (which was pretty fun to read since at the time I was a sports writer and covering some cool things).
Tommy’s book is detailed for the first few milestones, but I seemed to have trailed off after he turned a year. In fact, if I didn’t know better I’d be convinced he went into the witness protection program. I showed Matthew the calendar of Kaitlyn’s first year when I found it cleaning out Tommy’s closet. His immediate response?
“Where’s my baby book?”
Once again my jaw dropped, but this time my eyes did not dart. I didn’t have to scramble to try to remember where it was because I knew – it didn’t exist. I told him I didn’t exactly have the same kind of book that his brother and sister had. He didn’t care, he wanted to see it. OK, I thought, I’ll let him see it.
A Different Kind of Book
So, I got out his portable filing cabinet, and took out the copybook I wrote notes in.
It included testing done on me when I was pregnant with him, when he was born, after he was born, before his surgery, during his surgery, after his surgery, when he was in the iron lung, when he had RSV….on it went. I censored some things out when I read it to him.
Fortunately, he quickly became bored with the medical information, and went back to dribbling the basketball in the house that his father forbids him to do but he does anyway when Dad’s not home (I will never forbid him from dribbling a basketball in the house, especially if he’s working on his crossover).
Trying to Remember
Thank goodness Matthew isn’t the sentimental type…initially unimpressed with his medical baby book, he has totally forgotten about it, and, even better, has forgotten to care about it.
Again, a lesson learned courtesy of my youngest child. I can’t go back and relive those baby days, but I can hold on to each minute, and take something away from every day. And keep a diary.
Maybe then I’ll remember things….