Thursday, July 22, 2010
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.