Last week, 5-year old Grace came rushing into the house from the back yard, clutching a stick. She thrust it into my face and asked, “Mommy! What is this?”
Clinging to the end of the stick was a small slug.
“That’s a slug,” I said.
“Oh! I love it! I’m going to keep it for a pet! Can I have a container?”
She kept the slug for approximately seven minutes, then shook it out of the Tupperware and said, “Mom. When can I get a hamster?”
Now, don’t tell her, but I have always had a soft spot for hamsters in my heart. When I was a schoolgirl, my friends all seemed to have hamsters in clear plastic Habitrail cages. I, too, wanted a fluffy hamster to play with and watch as it crawled through the tunnels of its hamster-playground.
I asked my mother and to my great shock, she acquired not one hamster, but two. The problem was that instead of a trendy plastic Habitrail, my hamsters came in a giant sturdy, homemade wooden box with a wire front. The box was divided into two sections because my hamsters–mother and son–hated one another.
The bigger problem was that the seafoam-green box was stinky and difficult to clean. Hamster urine soaked into the unfinished wood. (What were those grown-ups thinking?) Cleaning it was my job, of course, but I was just a child, probably eight or nine years old, and I couldn’t manage it.
I never did bond with my two hamsters. They were a source of anxiety to me and a distressing disappointment. My mother never quite understood my desires. Once, I asked for roller skates–my friends and I liked to go to the roller rink on weekends and skate. And my friend had her own skates. My mother gave me skates for Christmas, but my new skates did not have rubber wheels, but steel ones. They were just wrong, all wrong.
One fall, I needed a new winter coat. At a garage sale, my mother handed me a dark brown corduroy coat. The sleeves were too short and it was hideous. I refused it and felt my mother’s anger. She was probably not angry with me, but angry at a life that forced her to buy winter coats for her children at garage sales. (I am a bargain-shopper, myself, but I like the thrill of finding a good deal.) Still, I felt the sting of her fury.
These things I remember have no file in my mother’s memory. She can’t even remember the puppy, Midnight, that was given to me as a Christmas gift one year. Although we lived in the same home, we lived lives that only barely intersected from time to time. She’s can’t remember most of my childhood.
I hope that jotting things down here will help me remember not only my own life, but the slugs that make an occasional appearance in our home. My life as a middle-aged woman is about grasping the small moments, examining them and imprinting them on my memory. Later, I will say, “Yes! I remember that day with the slug!” and we will exult in our shared memories.
(What I will not save for later is the memory of my teenage son who is intent on driving me crazy with his lazy insolence. And he was so cute when he was little.)
6 thoughts on “Sluggish”
I know exactly what you’re talking about. I think I didn’t exist in my mother’s life either. I’d mention something I remember from childhood and she look at me as though I’d lost my mind. Oh well. Besides my blog, I also keep journals and when I remember some special thing about my kids being younger I write it down. (Even if it’s something they remember and I don’t! lol) I lost their baby books in a nasty divorce and I’m still mad as heck about that.
We all remember things in our own way. My mother remembers what she chooses (and sometimes it is just one very small bit from an event, and then she fills the rest in from her imagination). I remember things that are important to me, and my children do the same. Sometimes we see the same thing from different perspectives.
I think its great that you take the time to document the bits and pieces of your journey with your kids. As a single parent, I never found time to do that. So now I look back…and probably remember things with my own perspective….that might not match my kids, but right now they are too busy raising kids to worry about it.
Last week, my mom couldn’t remember me.
Continue to write things down.
It’s why I blog, and blog for my grandchildren until they can do it for themselves.
I think that if we can do just ONE thing for our children, it’s to let them know that they are cherished. Your daughter already gets that. You CARED that she was enjoying a slug.
For me, it was the day my mom found a tinker-toy box for me to keep my tree-toad in. Although, sometime during the night my dad let it go. A few weeks later, he caught a salamander for me. It was a nice (quiet) pet.
Keep writing those things down. I remember people telling me when my boys were toddlers to write down those silly things and notable first, and I remember thinking “there’s no way I’ll forget these things…” I was wrong.
(He’ll be cute again. Persevere.)
I think my Mum has blocked a lot out from her memory of us growing up because it was such a sad time for her. Remembering is a very good reason to keep on blogging I say.