I never thought of how my son would remember me until he described me in a video he made as “my mom-she drives me lots of places.” That was it–a chauffeur? The one who does laundry and helps him with homework and that was all? I planned hundreds of fun trips and amazing things to do around the city and the country, but in the heat of the moment, I am the mom who drives him places? Later, he would add “and lets me do fun things” to that list, but it was not even a glimpse into the real me.
I remember my mom as the person who helped me when I was sick, who sent cards for every occasion and answered the phone every time I called. She loved sweet movies and read as much as she could but still cranked up the stereo and danced in her living room. She was embarrassed to sing in the car but would occasionally belt something out if the passenger sang louder. She saved every magazine and newspaper article that interested her -sometimes mailing them to one of her daughters, sometimes folding it and neatly packing it away. She tucked inspirational quotes into her purse, her wallet and even her recipe box. She cooked from memory and would spend 20 minutes trying to remember exactly what she put into a dish because she was used to just doing it. She liked to drive too fast and roller skate and smoked too much and always sunbathed slathered in baby oil. She was a little bit crazy, a lot of fun and did what she could as a mom. She wasn’t perfect by any means-I remember the bad, too, but mostly remember that she would laugh so hard that she would make you leave the room so she could catch her breath again.
Would my son remember that I worked a lot or that I was a phenomenal cardboard fort builder? Would he think about the notes I hide in his lunch every day or the way I can obliterate the enemy in most video games? Does he know that I am obsessed with music, film noir and old Martha Stewart magazines? Will he remember holding my hand the entire time at our first trip to Disney? Or will I just be a vague, passing memory of a woman who drove him to all the fun things? The one who cleaned his underwear and made sure his homework was done and made his dinner?
My mom built her story by being there-by telling me about her life when she was young. She shared her mistakes and her greatest heartbreaks and the best times of her life. Those are the things I want to share with my son-the things I want him to remember long after I am gone. And I hope that these are the things that shape his story and everything he’ll share with his child.