Several times per day, I say “I hope I remember…” to myself, trying to cement something in my memory, hoping to remember as many details as possible, hoping to keep this feeling for myself so I can call upon it during a dark moment, like when Rosie has attempted to flush an entire roll of toilet paper.
You see, I’m terrified of forgetting things. Alzheimer’s is a worry, yes, but something that truly keeps me awake at night is the thought of losing my memories to the effects of time and busy lives: old memories give way to new memories. What if I lose the cherished memory of Mitchell’s very last nursing session to a t-ball schedule? Or the first time Rosie grabbed me in a bear hug to a memory of us fighting when she’s a teenager?
Of course, we don’t really lose those old memories. They’re still there, they’re just pushed further back, waiting on someone or something to trigger the memory. And when the memory is triggered, we’re so ecstatic, we just have to share the memory. For instance, have you ever seem a grandparent watch their grandchild do something, say, run a toy car into the wall, and get way more excited than the achievement merits? Sure, the grandparent is probably legitimately excited for the child, but even more, she’s excited because that grandchild has just unlocked a memory of her own child, allowing her a brief visit with that child she lost to time so long ago.
Mitchell is only 4 years old and I’ve already become that grandparent, sharing my stories and memories with other mothers in the play area who couldn’t care less. Poor Rosie triggers memories so often, I’m sure she wondered why, the cuter she acts, the bigger the hug Mitchell gets.
I’ve heard my generation criticized for raising our children through the lens of our cell phone cameras, but I get it. I’m guilty of it. I only feel half bad about it, too. If there’s any chance of having something to trigger these memories, I’m taking it. That way, when the shit has hit the fan and I have two screaming children, a barking dog, dinner burning on the stove, and no beer in the fridge, I can pull up that video of us all dancing in the living room, laughing and having a good time, and give myself a mental deep breath.
I know I can’t stop the progression of time. I know that my babies will grow, and I know that my memories will fade. I know that, one day, instead of bear hugs, they’ll give me a bag of dirty laundry. There will be no more slow snuggly mornings; there will only be frantic runs to the bus stop. The movies Mitchell quotes at me will be much less cute and wholesome. Rosie will no longer have conversations filled with jibberish with me: I’ll be lucky to have conversations with her at all.
So, today, I’m going to linger in bed as long as I can, a baby on each arm, and I’m going to tell myself to remember this. I’m going to reenact five different movies in under two minutes with Mitchell, and when he laughs, I’m going to tell myself to remember this. When I walk in on Mitchell reading a book to Rosie, I’m going to scream to myself, remember this. The kids giggling in the swings: remember. Justin and Mitchell constructing elaborate train tracks: remember. Showing Mitchell YouTube videos to answer his constant question of “what does [insert animal here] eat?” Remember. He sure won’t remember I have all the answers in a few years.
I’m going to remember this. And, if I don’t, I’m going to have plenty of pictures to remind me.