The Consequence of Memory

You never know what moment in time is going to stay with someone. What instant will forever be emblazoned in their psyche as a permanent memory. What seemingly insignificant gesture or comment turns out to carry weight you could never foresee.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and wondering what memories will survive with MP long after I’m gone. I’m guessing it’s not so much the big things as the little that have staying power. Maybe she’ll remember a comment I made about a drawing, and how I loved her use of color. Or the time we ran around like lunatics with Pull-ups on our heads.

Or will it be that the bad memories surface more quickly than the good?

When I was 13 or 14, and my mother was moving out, her antique halltree was temporarily moved out of place, standing at the base of the stairs in the entryway. Being all legs and feet, I tripped over my size 9s, fell into the halltree, which in turn fell against the stair railing, breaking several 150 year old spindles.

I’ll never forget the way she screamed at me. And wouldn’t speak to me for a long time afterward. And how terribly hurt I felt. I remember it as though it were yesterday.

Why do I remember this before I remember all the times she didn’t scream? She was a good mom, after all.

I don’t want MP’s most buoyant memories to be of me losing my temper. Because I’m human, and of course it’s happened.

I need to remind myself that even the little things have consequences.

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9 Comments

Filed under Piece of the Past, Uncategorized

9 responses to “The Consequence of Memory

  1. wow. i think about exactly. the. same. thing. why are the bad things so easy to remember? and how many times during a week am i wondering what i’m doing that’s inadvertently shaping my son into something i never intended? i think that’s a subconscious reason why i journal and digital scrapbook. i’ll have proof that i tried to be a good mom. and i don’t think you have to worry. MP will definitely remember the moment with the pullups. nobody could forget that.

  2. We make emotional mileposts for the actual mileposts in our lives. You touched on it, but didn’t say more: your mother was moving out. That’s HUGE in a child’s life. It was a moment just begging for someone to mark it by carving painful initials into your heart. I have several of those moments, whether I bear the initials or whether I was the one doing the carving.

    Keep on keepin’ on, I guess. And try not to let your readers leave such horribly mixed metaphors in your comments, ha ha ha. : )

  3. Myra — We’re totally on the same page.

    Foolery — Wow, you’re so right. How odd that it never dawned on me. I probably subconsciously skimmed over the deeper hurt because, honestly, I hate to think about what was easily the worst period in my life. But, in hindsight, it makes sense the two moments would be forever linked in my head.

    I love your mixed metaphors, btw. :)

  4. Deb

    I think the same, too.

    I have the most random memories from childhood and the one I remember most is my mom making me hot chocolate and bringing it to the fireplace where I sat, watching “The Banana Splits.”

    I totally saw the Splits on a flashback kid’s channel yesterday and it brought it all back…

  5. I’ve thought of this too, but in a different sort of way. I always think I’m not doing enough for Son–and I suppose all parents do. So I try to put some perspective on most things I do–turn it into a positive instead of a negative.

    My friend told me this story of a mom who felt bad because she couldn’t get it together to have a nice breakfast in the morning with her kids at home. Instead, they would have PB sandwiches in the car on the way to daycare.

    Later in life her daughter told the mom that one of her favorite childhood memories was the early morning “car picnics.”

    Hmmm… so now that I re-read that post, it might have nothing to do with your original post, but it’s a nice story nonetheless?

  6. Uh, I meant when I re-read my COMMENT it has nothing to do with your post.

  7. Deb — See what I mean? Totally random. Banana Splits RULE, btw.

    I LOVE that, SWM. How awesome that what the mom saw as a potential negative was actually a warm positive for her child.

    There’s hope for me yet!

  8. It’s the nature of the beast I’m afraid. But as long as they remember – within every inch of their body that they were loved throughout their childhood, I’m thinking we’ll be okay.

  9. Oy, I wish I had more memories of my mom loving me than hating me. But I cling to the ones that are sweet, and desperately try to ignore the ones that hurt.
    I too want to leave my kid with a legacy of love, not anger.

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