I remember I used to get up early in the mornings and have tea with Dad before he went to work. Sometimes I got a dab of cologne while he shaved.
I remember the holidays Mom put together, not having had many traditions in her childhood. The walnut cookies, the leprechaun visits, Valentine’s Day treats, and the how she let the Easter Bunny put trails of candy on the floor.
I remember joining my grandfather for his daily walk to the corner store or around the block. He’d danced on Vaudeville and hated “the talkies,” sound movies, because they put him out of business. He didn’t talk much about days gone by until the very end, and when he visited us he always had to get back, “to trim the hedges.”
My grandmother had an endless pot of tea on the stove. She’d say, “Have some tea with your sugar.” In her day, they didn’t have much sugar. They had ration cards, she remembered.
I wonder what my little boy will remember about me.
Sometimes, he looks at me, “You wanna play, Mommy?” I’m the go-to toy when he’s bored. Children get bored. Adults never do. We have a plethora of places to be, things to do, lists to accomplish, routines to get things done. There’s always something to get done when you’re an adult…
“Hi, Mommy.” He wakes up and shuffles over to the couch where I’m drinking coffee and writing. I see him peek his head through the door. I scramble my last thoughts onto the file, and add a quick bullet of ideas i need to capture before I say good morning. I’m still deep in the flow of writing, my attention not yet on him. I snap the computer shut and collect him on my lap. We smile.
“Heeeyyyyyyy, good morning….” he cuddles in my arms. “How did you sleep?” I ask. He tells me about his dreams.
He asks what it means to have the same dream over and over. I tell him I do that sometimes when something’s weighing on my mind. His dream’s about dinosaurs. I tell him I think it means he likes dinosaurs. He asks, “Mommy, is something weighing on your mind today?”
Something’s always weighing in my mind. I’m an adult. Weights on minds press children into adulthood like aged cheese. I don’t tell him that. I say, “My mind is fine. How’s yours?”
He shuffles off. I write a bit more, resolving bullets.
“Let’s play.” He’s brought his bubble dinosaur. It needs batteries and a parent to help–one of those gifts a generous older sister buys and the Mom-toy sets up and uses.
“Come on, Mommy. Play.” It’s still early. Not…enough…coffee…I look at the face. The little face. What will he remember about me? I get up to play.
It is my job to make memories. To make memories he will cherish, remember, and hold on to. So that one day, he will say to other people, “I always played with my Mommy.” “Mommy taught me to sew.” “I made crafts with Mommy.” “We decorated for the holidays.” “We made our own jam.” “We grew the garden together.” “Mommy taught me to ride a bike.” “I used to go running with Mommy.”
If I do this right, when I’m gone, I’ll live on. If I do it wrong, he’ll say, “Mommy always worked.” “Mommy, why do you love your computer more than me?” “Mommy didn’t play with me.”
I shove him in a coat and boots. I put batteries in the toy. We go outside. I’m not dressed. I’m in socks. There’s still snow in the yard. I chase him around with bubbles until I freeze and can take no more. He laughs and laughs and laughs.
I tell him I’m cold. Time for me to go in. He says in his parent voice, “Well, get your coat on, Mommy.” We’re out of bubbles and the toy doesn’t work well anyway. A manufactured piece of plastic designed to annoy. Even so, he’s been smiling the kind of smile that imprints on the soul. We have made a memory. One down, a million to go… so when I’m gone, I will always be with him.
Because that’s my job. I make memories. Anything else is just routine.