I have a terrible memory. I remember snippets from my childhood but not a lot. This is not because I had a bad childhood – it was totally fine and normal – I just have a bad memory. My wife, on the other hand, does not. She remembers a lot and from a young age. It was something I never thought about much beyond a way people are different. There are so many things you don’t consider until you have a three year old, right?

Gus remembers a lot. He will talk about things that happened a year ago. You can’t trick him with “maybe we will do that later” stuff because he will remember and bring it up constantly. We have gotten comments from his teachers about what he retains and talks about (hahaha, not bad, just that it is noteworthy to them) and have always thought he remembers a bit more than some.

Suddenly it occurred to me that he is now three. He turned three on 10/2. And people remember things from when they were three. Mostly people remember big things but they remember things and something in that really strikes a cord with me. Our kid, as we speak, is making memories.

There are times where this causes me immense guilt. He has been, uh, spirited lately. It’s been a lot. Last weekend was just fucking terrible. When we are not at our best is he making memories of that? Is this how he will think of his moms and his childhood? Logically, I know that a bad day does not make a bad life and that he’s fine but the memory aspect is really not great for mom guilt.

Other times this brings me a lot of joy. There are things we have put off doing because it doesn’t seem worth it and that is getting more fun. Train rides, aquarium visits, dance class. We threw a pool party for his birthday and he loved it in a way I don’t think he would have a year ago. He experiences things differently because they build on his memories and it’s cool to watch how that works.

As we move into holidays I am thinking a lot about what that means. As a small family living far from extended family it is important to me that we create good traditions. Holidays are spent just the three of us and I feel like this is the first year he will really start building memories of them. Lesley and I have things we have done for years so I don’t feel at a loss for what to do, I only feel excited about watching him experience it as a kid, not as a baby or toddler. It takes a time that is normally really lonely and sad for me and gives it a more positive spin.

Three has been rough so far, I am not going to lie. But there is such much wonder and joy, too.


Posted on November 1, 2017, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I think about that a lot too. I had a shitty childhood, so some of our rituals and routines come from wanting to provide a childhood I wished I had. It’s also given me the perspective to see what was good about my child, and I’ve found those good things are super important time to replicate for the kids.

  2. I think about these things in this way too. I think about the things I want him to remember and the things I wish to erase for him.

  3. The pressure of kids remembering things. So much. I was talking to my dad today about how I’d yelled at Darwin while I was trying to get out of the house and she was trying to keep me there (by not letting be have my shoe…) and he recounted a time when he apparently really let me and my brother have it after listening to us fight all day. I have no memory of it. That made me feel .001% better.

    I’ve decided three is not a switch, it was more like I was a frog in a pot and I didn’t realize the burner had been turned on…

  4. this is such a cool stage! I’ve often felt kind of disappointed that Avery won’t remember all the fun things we do together, all the cuddles we have, how much she loves me right now…. πŸ˜› I kind of can’t wait for 3 so she’ll remember the big, fun, family outings, and family traditions…
    BUT, I also see how that could add a lot of pressure! Rest assured, I don’t think he’ll remember that time you disciplined him. He’ll just remember the things that bring him joy πŸ™‚ I remember my dad telling me, with remorse, that he spanked me once when I was about 6 years old. I didn’t remember it at all. But I remember the pool party we had for my birthday when I was 3. I remember getting my pony when I was 4. I remember going to the theme park with my cousin when I was 5. I think we only remember the bad stuff if our lives were overwhelmingly bad or we have a mental health issue where we’re programmed to focus on the bad. Most people only store those happy memories that had a big impact on us πŸ™‚

  5. I have been thinking about this a lot lately and having some guilt too. I feel extremely challenged and overwhelmed sometimes and yell more than I’d like to and lose my patience easily. I like to hope that the overall nuturing and good times win out. I try to make sure I apologize if I yell and once he’s in a better emotional place I’ll share with him how I feel, or what I need him to do to be safe (not run in the parking lot). Not sure what spirited 3 looks like for you, but over here it’s being challenged on everything, needing to be in control, and very big feelings. It’s exhausting to negotiate how to meet his needs for independence while accomplishing what needs to occur in any given situation.

    • I also wanted to add that I practiced as a child therapist for a while mostly prior to becoming a parent. Last winter I saw a therapist on my own and discovered a lot of my guilt was because I expected more of myself as a parent because of my background. My therapist helped a lot in validating that all parents get upset with their kids and make mistakes. We are always learning and improving. My favorite thing now is to mentally collect scences of parents struggling, not for schadenfreude but to remind myself it’s normal.

  6. I find it really interesting that my wife has such limited memories of when she was younger, and my memories go back to about Gus’ age. I too have noticed that the boys have begun to “remember” things, like “mama, yesternight you said I could watch mickey mouse clubhouse in the morning. It’s the morning!!!”, or that when we went to Callie’s aunts house 3 months ago, her uncle was showing the boys this “magic trick” where he “puts a coin through the top of his head and then regurgitates it from his belly and out of his mouth!” Well, they did it all weekend when we went up to see Callie’s family. I find that it’s much more fun now to create memories with them, because like, they actually remember. It’s complicated though, this memory thing, because like you, I wonder if they’ll remember when I was a less than stellar parent. I hope they don’t holdit against me as long as I held it against my parents. It wasn’t until I became a parent that I realize that they did the best they could, so when I fuck it up royally, or I yell to loud, or I lose my shit, or , or , or, that they’ll look back SOME day and say, “Mama was just being a parent and this shit is no joke!” It’s gonna come one day…we all sorta did that, no?

  7. I forget who mentions it (maybe Gottman? Or Circle of Security?) but a 30/70 split, with thirty percent emotionally responsive, healthy interactions and seventy percent okay/not your best (as long as its not abusive, of course, which isn’t even a concern here) is a really effing good ratio. Sounds like you’re hitting that and exceeding it. Make sure to go easy on yourself.

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