Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Playing with memory

Sunday evening I sat in a lawn chair around the dying embers of a fire. A marshmallow roasted while The May Queen and one of the girls from next door raced around the backyard making bat noises and insisting that I pretend they were wearing all black and I couldn't see them. "My, it sounds like there are lots of bats out here," I said.

A lamp glowed through the back windows and I looked inside to my living room, at the blankets tossed over the chair and the pictures above the couch, slightly askew. It felt as if I was peeking in a window at our lives. I wondered what it will be that The May Queen thinks of, when she is older and peeking back through the windows of time, as her fondest childhood memories. Will it be swooping and screeching through the dark night? Spinning herself silly on the creaky swing set? Watching the hummingbirds, and cheering them on? Endless games of Sorry at the kitchen table?

What will be the things that remind her of home? Will it be the smell of chai tea, like I drank every morning while I packed her lunchbox? Will it be a string of white Christmas lights, like the ones on our porch that we turned on whenever we ate dinner outside, accompanied by the singing of frogs in the "bog?" Will it be cluttered counter tops or colorful walls or a refrigerator covered with pictures?

Will she remember her home as nurturing and welcoming, or chaotic and unsettled? Will her strongest memories be of fun times with her family and neighbors, or the loneliness of being an only child?

I can't control her memories, of course. If I could I would sear the backyard picnics into her brain and erase the memory of the light that I accidentally knocked onto her head, cutting it open. But I can purposely create more opportunities for good memories. I can say yes more often to climbing the tree and no more often to the television. I can create an environment inour house that will, hopefully, one day be remembered as a place called home. A place where we laughed, we played, we sang, we created, we loved.

What are your strongest or fondest memories of your home and growing up? What triggers take you back?

20 comments:

Chrissy said...

Beautiful post. You make me want to put Christmas lights on my porch.

wheelsonthebus said...

my husband tries to stop all behavior that might hurt the boys, but those activities are the ones that make the memories.

slouching mom said...

yes. this was lovely to read.

kaye said...

Loved this post, sounds like you are making a great home with many great memories. Smells of things like baking bread,laundry off the line, fresh mown hay, leather, sage brush--take me back.

thanks--I needed a bright spot in my day

Chantal said...

I just remember being comfortable. I hope my kids feel that way. That is one of the reasons I am so gung ho on this clutter project. So they are comfortable in their own house.

Kat said...

I think about this often. What my kids will remember of their childhood. What they most cherished memories will be. You just can't predict. But it is a good reason to try and make everyday special.

I will say that I think MQ will forever remember seeing you on stage. That must have been pure magic for her. :)

Mary G said...

This is just lovely! And I think that what the MQ will remember is that you made her childhood golden; it's not the specific things you remember but the perfect security of a loving home.
And forget the lamp; I dumped scalding coffee on one of mine and what she recollects as an adult is that she did it herself. Go figure?

jen said...

wow, am i ever living that right now.

little plastic cups for jello. in fact, i ate out of one tonight.

E said...

I loved this. We try to be yes parents. I hope our kids will remember that mostly we said yes and that their curiosity and ideas were encouraged and nurtured.

You guys are building lovely memories over there and you are keeping these pretty word pictures that will help all of you keep them forever...

flutter said...

I will just snuggle into your memories, k?

Kyla said...

I don't know. I have lots of memories, pleasant ones, but I don't feel like they paint a picture of my whole childhood. It is like I can only see snippets of it, but I know there was much more.

She'll remember being cherished and that's the most important thing.

de said...

I think you're on the right track - I have said this before elsewhere, but my mother-in-law does a great job of telling positive, endearing stories over and over so that those memories are the strong ones. By comparison, in my family, they tend to bring up stories of ridicule and embarrassment. Guess where I would rather spend the holidays?

ewe are here said...

She doesn't sound lonely to me... I think she'll have lovely memories of her childhood.

Rima said...

Hmmm, let's see . . .catching lightning bugs and eating my grandma's apple pancakes are two biggies.

Magpie said...

So interesting, this. There are many things that trigger memory, but now that you've asked, they've all escaped into the ether.

content2bme said...

The smell of pipe tobacco always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. When I was a little girl, my dad smoked a pipe. To this day, I LOVE the smell of pipe tobacco.

thirtysomething said...

Very touching. And I am sure MQ will have many many positive memories of her childhood!

For me, it is the enticing aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking and fireplaces burning in the crisp winter air that trigger warm fond memories of my childhood.

Woman in a Window said...

My strongest memories are of playing independantly and noticing an awakening around me, like things like our field or shed were alive. I work hard to not have my kids be so alone, but to shake those things awake for them too.

Amy Y said...

This was great, Mama! You have helped create so many beautiful memories of her, I'm sure!!

One of my fonder memories is driving around on our ugly brown Buick station wagon listening to Oldies while my mom reminisced about who and where she was in her life when that song was on the radio.

Louise said...

I think the same thoughts all the time. My childhood memories are of climbing trees and running through fields. We have neither here (I drive to a tree to climb periodically), so I wonder what memories they will make in our tiny yard. But they love to play outside and imagine things, so I'm sure they don't miss the fields and trees because they only have that when they visit their grandparents, at my old "home."