In Praise of Making Magical Memories...That Your Baby Will Not Remember
Little E’s first carousel ride. The pillow fights. The high-wire wrestling moves. The time she licked her own blood from a skinned knee and laughed about it.
These are the very moments that keep me going as a dad. I’ve Instragrammed them, bragged about them, and magnetized the memory on the refrigerator of my consciousness.
And yet, Little E will remember none of it.
I mean, think about it. What is your earliest memory? I remember my dad teaching me to tie my shoes at around age 4. Maybe there was a dead dog in my memory banks somewhere? But that’s about it. Years one through three are lost to the ether. And I’m sure the same will thing will happen to Little E.
Recently I’ve been having to power through the doldrums that come with the knowledge that everything my wife and I have done with Little E to this point is, on its surface, a complete waste of time.
Yes, I know it’s not really a waste. I’m aware that these formative years will go the furthest in determining what kind of adult she turns into and I accept that. I suppose it’s one of the many selfless aspects of parenting: Putting your back into a job that, in the beginning at least, is shoveling memories into some subconscious wormhole that may or may not have some sort of lasting effect on your child.
And yet, I’ve slowly started to think of these initial years together in a different light. In essence, they’re about my wife and I. Our private little party for two that nobody else gets to share—not even Little E. It’s just us, learning the nuances of our little tribe, gaining confidence and experience in experimentation and failure and joy and laying the groundwork for what comes ahead.
These thoughts, they are wondrous and wondrously strange. Let’s just say that I have never been a glass-half-full kind of guy. There is a special place for those types of sunshine pumpers and it is on an island—a craggy, barnacle-crusted archipelago—far, far away from me.
And yet, a brighter outlook—dare I say an honest-to-goodness welling up of gratitude and positivity—sometimes flows through my brain. Watching my wife teach Little E how to plant honeysuckle and wisteria, I get a thrill not just in the filthy spectacle, but in seeing this woman I’ve known for eight years grow powerfully into her role as a mother. And I think that however much she might protest, she sees my unending efforts to teach Little E that art of the proper moon as me being the kind of goofy, borderline-inappropriate father-of-her-child that she always imagined.
It’s in sharing these moments—reveling in our own little private adventure—that we’re making sure the bond that holds us together is strong enough to hold this entire family together.
Besides, as long as there are camera phones, there will always be a way to remind Little E about that time she fell out of a moving car. And, despite that, how awesome her parents were.