Re-Generations

Me: faux calm in 1986       B: mid-sentence         P: 3-yr-old existential angst        C: “dear” in the headlights

 

I remember being held in my mother’s arms while she sang “Silent Night” to me in a darkened room.

I remember lying in my crib, waving at the shadows on the room’s walls made by cars driving past our house at night.

I remember looking through a telescope at what was supposed to be something very special in the night sky. All I saw was the moon. Or maybe a star. I was underwhelmed. It still looked pretty small to me.

These are some of my earliest memories. I don’t know what they say about me.

My daughter (now 32) has an incredible memory. She vividly recalls being a passenger (age 4) in the car with my husband and his friends who were driving (“quite fast!”) from Chicago to the DC temple. She still smiles as she recounts the sirens suddenly blaring behind them and her dad’s friend getting a ticket from a policeman.

I remember lots of things about my children’s childhoods. My mother must have recalled her early years of parenting, too. I used to roll my eyes when she would mention details about Sheridan School or the neighbor Mrs. Favret or Reverend What’s-His-Name from the church we attended. I can’t remember any of that. Maybe my sisters can, but even they grumped about Mom’s “living so much in the past.”

Now I fear my children – all grown – roll their eyes whenever I bring up bits from their single digit days. Does P cringe when I mention his youthful favorite video (Disney’s Robin Hood) as though he might still like to watch it? Does B recoil when I tell the clever thing she said when she was 5? (“If you don’t let me be where the rest of the people are, I’ll die! And not only that, I’ll never resurrect!”) And does C shiver when I slip and call him “Googy,” a nickname he had as an infant?

It would be one thing if I recalled these tender moments just during waking hours and in the privacy of our family circle. However, I often still (at age 60) find myself reliving raising toddlers in my dreams. C is the one who shows up most, my “baby.” He’s a stand-in, a symbol of my creative output or ambitions. For example, a dream that comes up with some frequency is of potty training failures (which was never a problem in their real lives). (And if they ever read that last part they will surely roll their eyes!) In these dreams, C will wander up to me as an adored tyke – but covered with pooh. If C represents my “creative productivity,” the pooh is, well, my assessment of how those efforts are going. Insecure? You betcha.

Two of my three children are parents now. This only reinforces my impulse to re-experience their tiny selves. That lavish love that comes with newborns is rekindled towards my offspring as I watch them hold their own babies in their arms. The space/time continuum becomes wildly warped. I like the perspective aging gives me to see the wholeness of these people I love. I’m not saying all those years were sunny. They were not. I remember those parts, too.

This isn’t living in the past. This is living beyond time, and the panorama feels holy.

So let them roll their eyes. Let them groan or be embarrassed. I’m claiming all of those memories boldly and proudly.

And now I’m going to settle back and imagine what it felt like to be held in my mother’s arms while she sang “Silent Night” to me.

About Linda

(Prose Board) splits her time between the mountains of Utah and the prairies of Illinois, generally confounding the postal service. She compiles inspiring collections of LDS women talking about topics dear to (or prickly in) LDS women's hearts (visiting teaching, Relief Society, motherhood, etc.) through Cedar Fort Publishing. Her latest is "Muffins & Miracles: Church Service in the Real World." She also writes for children ("Come with Me on Halloween"), illustrates, writes poetry, plays with fabric and can be bribed with dark chocolate.

8 thoughts on “Re-Generations

  1. “This isn’t living in the past. This is living beyond time, and the panorama feels holy.”

    Since past, present, and future are all now to God, this just seems to ring true in a significant way.

    That makes me feel better about how sometimes I struggle against how time works as a mom. Sometimes it works to my advantage (when I see that maybe I’m making some progress) but also to what feels like a disadvantage (when it feels like I’ll never have it figured out enough, soon enough, in ways that they deserve).

  2. This is beautiful. And such a lovely picture too. I often have moments where I calculate what age my mother was at various points in my life, compared to what age I am now at this point in my kids’ lives. It is always odd to me to try and imagine my mother as young as I am now and to picture how my kids will remember me as I am at this point in their lives. I think it is good sometimes to step ‘beyond time’ and realize that we are all God’s children and that many of our relationships on Earth are constricted by our positions in time.

  3. Ah, Linda! This is wonderful! I’m with Michelle on loving the “living beyond time” quote, but really, the whole piece is just beautiful. Memory is, in itself, a creative process, isn’t it?

  4. I loved this Linda! This one sentence alone, “This is living beyond time, and the panorama feels holy.” brought tears to my eyes. My 4 sons are all married now and have families of their own, and you put into words what I have not been able. YES, such sacred times those were. Sometimes those days seem so close to me I can almost jump back into them.

  5. Luscious. I feel the same. I find myself giving to my grandchildren the things their parents liked when they were my little ones. I agree – it feels like “living beyond time, and the panorama is holy.” Thanks for giving words to it.

  6. Thank you so much for articulating what I feel so vividly. I don’t feel as old as I am. I am often startled to realize that so many years have passed. I have had a tiny glimpse of how eternity might be when I realize that events that actually happened nearly 30 years ago, seem so fresh and recent. When we look back, there isn’t “time”—it’s all “right now.” But we’re so bound by our mortal concepts of time that we’re continuously looking at our present as the only reality. Eternity will be very interesting–maybe we will be permitted to enjoy all those joyful times continuously.

  7. Linda, this is gorgeous. Everything about your language evokes that “beyond time” feeling and the ideas settle in my heart like they’ve always been there, only I hadn’t noticed them before.

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