Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pressing Memories

I finished singing the "last" song and told her it was time to go to sleep. We both laid down, her face just inches from mine with her Raffie, she tossed her delicate legs over mine and gave me a sleepy smile. For a moment we just looked at each other with sleepy smiles. Just as I was lifting my hand to stroke the hair out of her face and trace light circles across her nose and around her eyes, Squiggle Bug settled her hand on my face and said around the Raffie ear in her mouth "I love you mommy." Finger the sunshine strands on her forehead in the dim light, I smiled and whispered that I loved her too. My chest constricted and tears stung my eyes as she began to caress my face just like I do hers every night. Laying there caressing each others face I told myself to press this moment into my memory like a flower between the pages of a book to be discovered later as a sweet, faded surprise. I worried I would forget anyway. Then my mind scrambled to find other memories hidden in it's pages; first giggles, how she smelled the first time I held her, a small arm clutching my neck, cuddles in the early morning, blue eyes gazing intently into mine as I held her while she nursed. Beautiful memories but already so faded.

Her hand dropped, too drowsy to continue fingering my face and peeking through slits in her eyelids she asked me to sing again. I obliged, holding on to this moment for as long as I could. Would she? Would she remember those dusty memories? With so many more memories and knowledge coming to fill the pages of her mind, I doubted it. I reflected on my own memories as a child, realizing that the earliest one I had of even going to bed as a child was when I was at least 7 or 8, certainly not 2. Peering through the clouded lens of so many years I remember sitting next to my mom in a nightgown on the couch in my family room, the blue couch with flowers, and my brother and sister and dad there as well. Dad was playing the guitar and we had been singing. He launched into "Goodnight Ladies" replacing ladies with the names of my siblings and me, one at a time. To the tune of our names we circled the room giving hugs and goodnight kisses before dancing off to bed. I don't think my older brother cared for that part much but he awkwardly participated. In bed I listened to the end of the song for my brother and then my dad sang another song and I sang along softly. There are details missing, details like the ones I was trying to grasp to hold forever from this moment putting my own daughter to bed. No, she probably wouldn't remember.

So I'll have to tell her. Over and over again, describe how she smelled, her sweet sleepy voice requesting yet another song, her soft hand stroking my cheek as she tells me she loves me, the favorite cookie pajamas keeping her warm and snuggly, and the way her hair lays across her forehead in the gentle glow from the nightlight. And to press it in my memory I'll write it down in her journal. I know that many of the memories I have from my childhood are because of the spiral bound journal scrapbooks my mom would squeeze out time at 2am to fill for me, recording her perspective of the mundane and exciting moments of my childhood.

This weekend I'm going to go through one of those notebooks and share those musty memories with my own children. Then I'll record those precious details that slip away and press them into my memory to share with them again one day. I will continue the tradition of preserving memories in the written word to share one day with my children as my mom did for me. There may be long blocks of time between those moments but I will press every moment I can.


  1. *Beautiful*. And oh so sweet!

  2. Oh Jess, this makes my heart constrict! You described beautifully the small, perfect moments a parent feels and then wants to stop in time. I have it a lot with SaraRose and am working on not instantly worrying...."will she be my last child? 'Cause this is going by tooooo quickly"
    God knows.
    But savoring the moment (and blogging about it too!) is good.
    I like the scrapbook idea. I'm not a scrapbooker, but I may need to start something where I can keep the track of the sweet, fleeting moments.

  3. TFS! You have inspired me to start a journal for my baby.

  4. I tried to be a scrapbooker, I'm not so good at it. What I can do is journal which I kind of like better anyway as I can put more into my words that captures what a picture can't. So that's what I do, journal with some photos and mementos tucked in. Scrapbooking is often too overwhelming for me. But I can write!

  5. My mom told me (when I described it to her) that my first memory is from approximately the age of a year so I hold out hope that my children WILL remember some of these things. I remember playing a game with my bottle where I had to get the milk to a certain line in the nipple before I quit drinking it and, if I didn't, I had to drink it to a different line (it drove my mom batty). And I remember making my mom hold my bottle while I was drinking it so that I could play with her hair and feel her heart beat on my cheek as I laid in her arms. These memories are vivid for me every time I hold my little guys.