My first memory is of me, sitting in my grandpa’s car, crying because I got homesick and insisted on him taking me home when my brother and I were supposed to sleep over at my grandparents’ house. I remember wearing a seat belt, and looking down and seeing my tiny feet not quite reaching reaching the end of the seat, and a giant white diaper poofing out between my legs. Yes, no carseat. It was 1982. I don’t even think people wore
seat belts back then. I was crying, mostly because I felt bad about being such a brat that I made my grandpa drive me all the way home (maybe two miles), at such a late hour (the sun was still out – it was just late for me).
The next memory I have is of me at home, watching Sesame Street and looking over at the kitchen because my nanny was talking to herself as she was cleaning up. This was before
I started preschool – which I started at the ripe old age of two, so I was probably about 1 ½ or so. I remember thinking “Isabela si que esta loca!” That’s “Isabela sure is crazy!” in Spanish – I grew up in Puerto Rico.
Seriously. I remember this stuff.
I was thinking about these memories a couple of days ago while soaking up our nightly cuddle time with my Lil Man. And then a chill ran down my spine as I realized that I was about his age when I had these memories. That means he could be remembering anything that is happening now. He is forming his first memories, those little moments he’ll think back to when he’s cuddling his child three decades from now.
My first reaction was panic. This is not a milestone I had been warned about. What if his first memory is bad? Am I supposed to provide a life of puppies and rainbows so his first memory is pure bliss? Surely this is not the case. Right?
But I don’t want it to be a bad one.
I mean, my first memory is of guilt, of me getting my way, of me inconveniencing one of the greatest people on earth. That sucks. On the other hand, I could look at it as a memory of my grandpa and the lengths he’d go to because he loves me.
Did this in any way shape who I am today?
As a mom, what am I supposed to do? Should I do anything? It’s unrealistic for me to create an environment of pure happiness and perfection 24/7. And I wouldn’t want that anyway. Besides, my kid has it good. Really good. I may not be a perfect mom, but I wouldn’t mind his life. Any better and he’ll be spoiled rotten.
Now that that first moment of panic is gone, I’m just curious…what will his first memory be?
Will it be of the time that he and I hung out on the courtyard at his school and giggled as he finished a graham cracker that he charmed out of his teacher right before we left his class that day? Or will it be when I didn’t let him tip over the bench in that same courtyard? Will it be us playing chase around the house like we do every day, or will it be the temper tantrum that ensues when I take him off the couch because he’s tried to run laps on it?
The bottom line is that I can’t shape his first memory. If it ends up being a less-than-stellar moment in his otherwise kick-ass life, then there’s nothing I can do about
it except know in my heart of hearts that for every bad memory there were a million and a half good ones. I’ll just have to wait a decade or two to find out what those early memories are/will be. Maybe that’s why they don’t tell you about this milestone – you can’t do anything about them, and it’ll be decades before you know when it happened.