Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Knowing We'll Forget

The other night I sat in Caroline's room nursing her to sleep. The house was quiet, its inhabitants engaged in silent activities like sleeping and reading. Caroline's nightlight gave the room a warm, soft glow and as I gazed down at Caroline's perfect, small form suckling away, she, as she so often does, looked up at me and smiled and, as she did so, tiny, tear-shaped little droplets of milk dribbled out the side of her mouth. She then took her tiny hand and clutched my finger, and I said to myself, in that perfect moment, "I am going to make a point of remembering this moment forever."

And then I felt sad.

Because I can remember telling myself that exact same thing with Madeleine and with Hank and with Elisabeth. And yet, despite my intentions to remember those special moments with my older kids, I don't. Those memories have faded away and have long been replaced by new, equally wonderful moments of cuteness and togetherness. Equally wonderful, but different moments that evoke different feelings.

And I sat there, staring at Caroline, knowing I wanted to remember this, but knowing too, that I will forget; those memories will be replaced by some goofy comment, or a spontaneous hug or-- heaven help me-- hearing her recite her wedding vows or singing to her own child.

There is no answer. No trite summation or theme. Forgive the overused expression, but it is what it is. Life goes on. Children grow up. They get bigger. Our memories fade or are forgotten.

Still, though, knowing that we will forget, despite every intention not to, when we're in those perfect moments, is impossibly hard.


Susan said...

But Cate, when someone else mentions these perfect moments, the little droplets of milk dribbling down the chin when the wee one smiles up at mommy, then all the rest of us DO remember when it was us with our perfect babies. So thank you.

Cate said...

Oh, good! I'm glad I was able to trigger a good memory. That makes me smile. :-)