As a writer people are constantly praising me for the amazing job I must be doing writing things down.
It’s going to be so amazing for you when your son is grown and you’ve written down all of these memories.
Umm… errr… yeah. It’s going to be the tits when he gets ahold of my online presence around adolescence and realizes his mom is a hot mess who doesn’t have even the very slightest of clues how to raise a human and has spent the majority of her social currency screaming into the unknown about how hard it is. I AM SO LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT!
But more to the point, I’m not writing anything down. Like many parents, as the years have gone by I have lived in that absurd loop of believing that I’ll remember every adorable, precious, and life altering thing, while simultaneously not remembering anything that happened beyond 30 minutes ago. It’s not for lack of desire, or even effort for that matter. (RIP to the dozens of purchased, opened, and then forgotten journals.) I’ve thought about texting myself things to remember. Trying to write a sentence every night about one thing to carry forward. Scrap books. Apps. I’ve thought about a lot of it. I’ve done none. Six years has passed me by and I don’t have a catalog of words, quirky phrases, or even the classic firsts. Between you and me, I don’t even remember what his first word was. Even more between us, the only reason I remember the time he was born was because my husband (who is clearly an absolute genius) put it in the calendar reminder for our son’s birthday. So every year, on August 25th, we get a little alarm reminding us that he’s another year older… at 8:46pm.
But here’s the thing, I want to remember. There are so many things that I grieve forgetting. The hues of infancy faded into toddlerhood almost unnoticed. The bridge out of toddlerhood was sloped so gradually that I didn’t even realized I was on the other side until it was too late to turn back. The lisps and misspellings slowly corrected themselves and I can’t for the life of me remember that word he used to say that made me so happy… and now he says them all exactly the way adults do. He’s so proud. I’m so sad.
Today we started kindergarten. He was so happy. He could barely eat his breakfast. He danced and sang the entire way there, his hands clasped with his neighbor and friend. They announced to anyone (and no one) listening that they were headed to kindergarten. I want to remember this.
I want to remember the way he looked when I walked into his room and he was still asleep, curled on his bed like he has been since the day I brought him home. I want to remember the smell of his room in those last moments before he became a kindergartener. Do you remember the smell of your baby’s room? I want to remember that sweet, tinkly, plastic, Play Doh smell always.
I want to remember that he was too excited to care that I put him in “fancy pants” (khakis).
I want to remember — and this is important — how young I was. Years from now, I want to acknowledge that my own life was unfolding during these child raising years. I want to remember that I was wearing great jeans and my favorite gold boots. I want to remember that I was so fucking happy for him, but also overwhelmed and sad.
I want to remember the looks that my husband and I kept exchanging. The beautiful, wordless acknowledgement that we’ve honed over 15 years that means, “I love you. Fucking keep it together. We’ll be fine. And we’ll cry at home.”
I want to remember my friend Natalie. A new friend, a neighbor. In thirty years, regardless of where life has taken us, I want to be able to remember her name and our walk with our two kindergarteners.
I want to remember the walk.
The moist air that ruined my hair.
The perfect temperature.
The police officer who went out of his way to make two little boys feel on top of the world.
I want to remember his little face as he looked up from the line — a mix of bravery and excitement and trepidation. Ready to say goodbye, but so far from being ready to let me go.
I want to remember the song they sang as they walked, but I have already forgotten it. I can hear their joy, but in the 4 hours since it happened, the words are gone. Some things are never meant to become memories, just moments.
But today, at least, I hope I’ve been able to create a touchtone, a trigger. The next time someone praises me for capturing my child’s life in prose, I’ll smile.
Yes… online somewhere.