We signed the paperwork to close on our house today, so it’s official. We are no longer owners of the house our baby first knew, or residents of Cleveland. As I’ve said before, while I’m happy with the direction our lives have turned in the past few months, it’s bittersweet to close this chapter.
It has also led me to thinking about the myriad things The Baby won’t remember about his early days. As babies do, he is growing so fast. I thought I’d write a letter to The Baby to commemorate some of those things.
There are so many things I cherish about our life right now that you will never know. It makes me sad to think you won’t recall your first, sunlit bedroom with its blue walls and closet library, or that you very likely won’t remember meeting my grandparents.
You won’t remember the long walks in your stroller, just as the winter weather was breaking, or the way our dog became just a little gentler as she served as our guide through our neighborhood — past the used car lots, around the library, and over the sidewalks bumpy and broken by the roots of old trees.
You won’t remember the hours of naps you took in your carrier, your head resting over my heart as I wrapped our dishes in newspaper, folded laundry, ate a snack.
You won’t remember, more recently, being wrapped in a swaddle and sung to, approximately 12 verses of, “One elephant went out to play…” before you dozed enough that I could place you in your crib for a nap, or that 40 minutes later, when you stirred and couldn’t go back to sleep on your own, I did it all over again and held you while you dreamed, until I could put you back down again, and how I do this three times a day.
You won’t remember how excited you feel when your dad comes home from work, your fat little legs twitching out stomps and your fingers waving toward him. You won’t remember how your grandmother sings to you over the phone, or how my mother holds you while we toss old hot dog buns to the fish in our pond, and you smile.
You won’t remember how we both laugh when you sneeze. Or that a kiss behind your ear makes you shriek with joy. Or that when you’re upset in the car, I reach behind me and we hold hands.
You won’t remember things yet to come — your first steps, your first taste of ice cream. These first experiences that form you, that will be the parts that accumulate to make up your whole person, will be visceral, felt and ingrained but never something you can inventory.
It is my great challenge and my great gift, as your mother, to hold these moments in my own memory as a monument to the precious and fleeting earliest days of your life. You won’t remember, but I won’t forget.