Friday, February 27, 2015

Making Memories with Emily

Today was supposed to have been a regular Thursday, but this morning Jeremy woke up and decided to work from home instead of heading into SF. His design team was having an off-site today. (Basically, this is an all expenses paid cool hang-out time during normal work hours. They do awesome things and I'm usually completely jealous of him, in a good way.) I always encourage him to go and have fun, build relationships, etc., but he enjoys not having to commute and being with us, so I don't try to talk him out of it too hard. :)  Anyway, he had a Hack Week poster he wanted to finish up and thought it would be nice to work at a coffee shop this morning. Jeremy got back home around lunchtime which freed me up to go pick up Emily from school without my usual entourage (i.e. Caleb and Anna).

It's February here, but in the low 70's in the afternoon. I headed up to Emily's school on my bike and decided just us girls would play together a little while after class. I thought for sure she would want to go to the "Fish Park"--her nickname for one of our nice local parks, but she actually just wanted to go home to see Dad! I talked her into going to the beach with me instead. I said, "Dad will be home the rest of the day, don't you want to go put your toes in the sand for a few minutes?" Emily lit up at that thought and followed me on her scooter the one mile to the beach from her school. We parked our rides and then sat down to talk and eat. I knew she wouldn't have finished her lunch, so we polished off that and drank some water. Talked a little about how the day went and then I just let her wander and play. She found a few shells and made me promise to take them home.

Emily is five now and I can say that I have some definite memories of five. I know that everything from here on out is fair game for memory making, but that she will forget almost all of it. I want her so badly to remember living in Alameda. How we could hop on our bikes and be at the beach in a mile after school. Will today make the cut? Childhood memories are such a funny thing. I think about kindergarten and my strongest memory is being taken out to the hallway to be disciplined for laughing at our class's dead fish. I thought I was going to get paddled. (They still did that back then.) We tend to remember things that had a strong emotion attached to it at the time. I don't really have memories of bath times, but how many hundreds of baths my parents must have given me! I don't remember much about Disney World even though I was probably about 12 when we went. I remember that my brother passed out on a ride! We have told that funny story many times over the years to the point that I don't know how much I recall from that day versus what I'm remembering from the retelling. I know I can help solidify many of her memories, "remember those times we rode to the beach after school, just you and me?"

Recently, I was thinking about what you remember about people after they pass away. Unfortunately, I have a negative memory of someone who has now passed. I didn't know her that well, but I have a very distinct memory of her talking badly about her new daughter-in-law. I was a new daughter-in-law myself and I had a strong emotion to hearing this talk. I felt badly that the young woman wasn't there to defend herself nor was her husband and other members of her family were chiming in about her, too. I thought, "I hope my mother-in-law never talks about me like that." It was just a sad feeling and I felt very vulnerable even though she wasn't talking about me. I hate that that is my strongest memory of her. I'm sure she was wonderful in so many ways, but that's the lasting memory I have because it was attached to a strong emotion at the time. I only tell that story to remind myself how strong words can be and that they last in our memories for years--especially the negative ones. Words are so powerful and life giving, but they can also be demoralizing and soul crushing. Being a mother is a powerful thing. Every day I'm molding and shaping lives. That kind of power is God-like. Raising well-adjusted, happy, emotionally healthy children into adulthood is a daunting task, but it can also be SO much fun. Like when you pick up your oldest daughter from school on your bike and head to the beach in February!