Thursday, July 17, 2008

Memory

Sometimes, when we are watching the baby be his strange baby self, my husband says to me, “I can’t believe that he’s not going to remember any of this.” And it’s true. The baby is not going to remember any of this. He will not remember how much fun he had blowing raspberries on my collarbone; he will not remember that he cried all evening the first time we left him with a babysitter. He will not remember the hours and hours and hours that we have spent together, just the two of us, sitting on the living room floor or walking around the house or eating breakfast or cuddling in bed, nursing until we both drift off to sleep. He will remember none of these long, rapturous baby days. Even if he does have a fleeting memory, a real one that doesn’t come from pictures or stories, it will only illuminate one moment out of thousands.

Though it saddens me immeasurably to think that the baby will not remember these times that, for me, have been filled with transfiguring emotion, I also see that, really, there’s no reason for him to remember. These days, and the memories of them, do not really belong to the baby. They belong to us – to me and my husband. Because the baby is not actually himself yet; he is not the person who he is going to become, the person who will one day say, “I remember.” He cannot have memories yet because he is not yet an independent life – he is a part of us. It is our own lives that we are remembering when we say, “Remember how tiny he used to be? Remember how he used to nap crosswise on the couch and his feet didn’t even reach the edge? Remember how he didn’t know how to touch his toys?” It is our own stories we are telling when we talk about how the baby wouldn’t sleep on his fourth night in the world or how he began, at six and a half months, to reach his arms up for hugs. It is the story of me and my husband and how we became a family. And that is why these memories are important, and that is why, every day, I am remembering as hard as I possibly can.