What I Do Remember

I can’t remember every detail of every child…every first word spoken…every first step…every favorite food…

They ask. They want to know. They want to know the little details of their lives…the little things they did when they were too young to remember. But I don’t remember, either.

I don’t remember Henry’s first word. Partly because we were so confused about his speech. It would seem to develop, and then it would disappear, and we wondered if it was ever really there at all.

I don’t remember Ella’s first word either. Kate said “Coco.” William said “quack quack.”

I don’t remember anyone’s first steps except Ella’s. Mostly I remember how all five of us were watching her; how all of us were together in one little corner of our house.

I remember that Kate would eat anything. Except broccoli. I don’t remember what anyone else liked. I do remember that William would throw his plate when he was done eating.

It bothers me. It bothers me that some of those memories are missing. I have them written down somewhere, I’m sure. In a baby book or on a slip of paper or an old calendar somewhere. But I can’t remember them. I can’t call to mind what it was they were wearing, or where we were or how they sounded.

But I do remember other things.

I remember the first time Henry said “horse” and the first time he heard a bird sing.

I remember how quiet and thoughtful Kate was, always, and how she sucked her thumb when she was uncertain. I remember how the smell of her was intoxicating.

I remember the first time William smiled after his stroke, and how many eggs he ate when they finally cleared him for food.

I remember how Henry and I would curl up together in his toddler bed at night…how he would stretch out and how round his belly was. I remember his profile…that cute button nose and his soft cheeks. And how there was always music playing even though he couldn’t hear it…I refused to stop playing his music. I remember how he would twirl his hair around his finger.

I remember rocking Kate at night, in her tiny little room in our old house. Looking out across the square at the Christmas lights and singing Silent Night to her while she slept. How warm and perfect she felt cradled in my arms.

I remember what William used to say to us, every single night before bed. I love you night-night sit in the chair up here the one by the door I love you night night in one long, run-on sentence.

I remember the day we told the kids about Ella, and how we were going to have a new baby in the house, and how they all screamed and jumped around and how I felt so overwhelmed with joy that I cried. I remember how that baby girl used to strip down to her undies every single day and fall asleep on the couch. And how her favorite word was “no” for a little longer than I appreciated.

I used to dream about what our children would be like…what our life would be like. My dreams were like a fantasy — there was never as much heartache in my dreams.

Nor was there near as much beauty, nor splendor in my dreams, as there is now in my memories.

What I Do Remember

Forgetting

I was sitting there, taking a bite of my banana and I thought of him and how he says bananas make his mouth itchy and stinging lately.  I was driving.  And right then I sobbed, silently and so unexpectedly…so abruptly I didn’t have time to even think before I gasped.  Because right at that moment I remembered the first time I held him. The first moment I kissed his tiny, precious face.  The first moment I smelled his new baby skin.  That giant ache you get in your throat when you do the ugly cry…it nearly knocked me off my feet that morning.

The other night at dinner we were talking about the things I liked to eat when I was pregnant with each of them.  I ate strawberries and chef boyardee when I was pregnant with Kate…black licorice for Henry, and lots of french fries and ice cream when I was pregnant with Ella.

What about me he says.

I don’t remember.

I’m the forgotten child he says.

Never.  Never ever.  Your cells became knit with mine long before you were born.

But there is the fear of forgetting…forgetting something precious you said…how your shiny hair bounced up and down in the back when you walked, or how your belly used to stick out past your ribs.  I fear forgetting that your first word was “quack,” or how you used to like to wear a tie and dress pants to preschool, or that your favorite song was the Little Drummer Boy, which you called Rum Pa Pum.

And now…I don’t want to forget you now…how soft and fuzzy your hair feels.  How you say “wow, Mom” when you disapprove of something I’ve said.  How soft your embrace is every morning. And that whistling thing you do all the time now. (Why?)

Tiny little memories as countless as the stars in the sky, Will. You will never be forgotten.

 

 

Forgetting

Little Red Haired Boy

Henry Beach 2 NST

December 19, 2012

Dear Henry,

There are so many things I could say about you…your kindness, friendliness, and confidence.  Your adorable nose, or your freckles, or your eyes.  Or your hair, and how when it flips a certain way it takes my breath away, and I swear you could be an angel.  But what is in my heart tonight is how you are growing up, and how I seemed to turn around for just one second, and there you are, a strong, sweaty, somewhat smelly boy — not my chubby, soft little baby.

I remember when you were little — how I would lie down with you until you fell asleep.  I can still see your silhouette in the moonlight…that big round belly under fleece snowman jammies, soft red curls and button nose.  I miss those nights.  I miss being there with you as you drifted off.  I miss your little, round cherubic self.  But then, children must grow up.

I guess that is the burden I bear…I cling desperately to those memories of little you.  And you, in typical childhood fashion, race as fast as you can to leave them behind.  In my mind I scramble to remember things, to remember what your hair felt like, or how you smelled, or how it felt when you snuggled into my neck, or what your tiny voice sounded like.  And when I reach that memory, my heart hurts.  The beating of my heart hurts.  For you have outgrown the memory, but I haven’t.  And I suppose it is natural that someday you will outgrow me…but I will never outgrow you.

So many memories of you, Henry.  So many beautiful memories.

So many more to come.

Happy birthday baby boy,

-Mama

Little Red Haired Boy

Little Cotton Nighties

It’s amazing how after two years in a cardboard box, tiny little socks and hats and nighties still smell like tiny little babies. 

And how boxed up nighties can bring back memories of long, late nights.  Nights with little sleep.  How those nighties were huge on my little tiny babies.  And yet they wore them, every.single.night.  How their arms would never stay in the sleeves.  And how my babies would always wake up with their hats slumped down over their eyes because their heads were so tiny.  And their socks would always come off with their kicking, and get lost somewhere within those nighties. 

I can remember waking up to the sound of hunger flailing its skinny little arms and legs at me.  And being so frustrated because I just wanted to sleep.  I would jump out of bed and throw my pillow.  And then I would kick my pillow.  And maybe punch it. 

And then I would walk into a tiny baby’s room and I would melt as soon as my eyes rested on that face.  The most beautiful face I had ever seen. 

I would cradle a child in the crook of my arm, and nestled together in a warm blanket in the dark, I would feed that child.  And I would wonder what she would be like.  Or when he would talk.  When I would hear little footsteps.  When I would hear “I love you, Mommy.”  I would feel, for a few moments, that time stood still.  And it was breathtaking.

I have trouble getting rid of these things…these little nighties.  I press them to my face, and breathe in their scent, and my heart dips and swirls and for a moment, I remember.  And so, I will put them back in their cardboard container and they will rest there with little tiny socks and little tiny hats and little tiny blankets that I can’t bear to part with.  I will arrange them safely among the velvets and silks and organzas, the coming home outfits and the other, memory-laden treasures that I have kept.  

In a few months, when I can hardly remember what it felt like to be the mother of a tiny little baby, I will have these things to remind me…if only for a moment.

Little Cotton Nighties

Oh, the Memories We are Making…

I am in the midst of the-last-week-of-the-school-year/end-of-year-parties/teacher-gift-assembly h*ll.  Therefore, being short on time, I am putting up a list of the seven-year-old’s memories which he began compiling yesterday.  And let me just say, I hope it’s not a complete list.  Or a “best-of” list.   Without further ado, I give you William’s Memory Book…

1.  I started Pre.K.

2.  I had field day in K(indergarten).

3.  I started K(indergarten).

4.  When I finished K(indergarten), I almost drownded.  (What?  You did?  When was that and where was I?)

5.  Henry barfed on the couch. (It always comes back to the barf.)

6.  Kate barfed in the car.  (Oh dear God don’t remind me of that ride.  That is a ride that will live in infamy in this family’s history.)

7.  Kate barfed pink.  (See a pattern here?)

 And that is William’s life to this point.  Or at least his recollection of it.  You’re welcome.

Oh, the Memories We are Making…