Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Mother's Memories: If only I could go back....

My daughter, just a few weeks old

Several years ago, when my daughter was in her late 20's, I finally managed to put together her baby book (birth through age two). Each day for weeks, I holed up in our home office, cranked up some music, scanned in old photos, and racked my brain trying to remember details from decades ago. Each time, I felt myself being transported back in time to 1980, 1981 and 1982. It was an emotional roller coaster ride full of joy and pain, gratitude and remorse. Each day I shed new tears remembering the precious times my daughter and I had had together, agonizing over remembered mistakes, longing to go back in time to hold her little body again, and wishing I had been paying closer attention to the exact moment she first smiled, when her first tooth came in, when she sat up all by herself. What was the date she took her first steps? Was I even in the room, or had I been at work and only got to hear about it secondhand? 

Anyone who has raised a child and then allows her/himself to reminisce will know what I am talking about. I was so busy living my life that some of these momentous occasions slipped by unmarked on my life's calendar, although I know without a doubt that I celebrated them at the time. But somehow I can't help but feel I didn't give each moment enough attention. Maybe fireworks had been called for and all I had to give was a smile and then, quickly, a look forward to the next stage of development. Why hadn't I taken life slower and appreciated each achievement my daughter made with more awe and wonder? I know the answer to that question and it's complicated. My life as a single mother was complicated back then.

At the end of my scrapbook project I felt both elated and let down. I was glad I had finally produced a baby book for my daughter, but I was also going to miss the emotionally exhausting trek down memory lane each day. There's something a little addicting about the regular stirring of emotions.
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