The visions flash past my mind’s eye so quickly, then disappear.
Like I’ve dropped a huge box containing still photos of my children’s entire childhood. The photos are scattered all around me in my mind, the wind whirling some of them almost out of reach. I grasp for them, trying to hold onto them all, but it’s almost impossible.
I see them as individual frames cut from an old video; still photos so faded I can barely make out the memory attached.
My mind is cluttered with them as of late, so I try to mentally gather them and sort them into virtual boxes.
One box is navy blue with tan trim, filled with awards and letters of recognition, ribbons from science fairs and photography shows, Boy Scout badges, and baseball trophies from long ago.
Not much room left in this one.
The other is a trendy pattern of pink and black, maybe a few neon green stars thrown in here and there. Certificates of achievement, awards, drawings, pictures of friends, and soccer trophies fill this one.
Still some room left for prom dresses and a few more trophies.
In these pictures in my mind I see birthday parties with pinatas and sippy cups. First steps and shiny Christmas shoes. A backyard strewn with toys; kids running through the sprinklers on an intensely hot day.
Bodies buried in the sand at the beach, with toes sticking out and faces in full grin. First triumphant rides on tiny bicycles. Camping trips with s’mores and dirt-smeared faces.
Toothless grins, tears over a first haircut, one year-old faces covered in cake, a tiny arm in a pink cast.
Glasses, braces, buzz cuts in the summertime, awkward bangs pushed aside with barrettes as they grew out. Pants with holes in the knees, fancy dresses, the first time he wore a real shirt and tie.
And yet, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve missed something.
These memories that cloud my mind, prevent me from getting things done, threaten to bring me to tears at a moment’s notice? They also make me painfully aware that childhood is finite. It slips through your fingers like fairy dust, almost imperceptible as it happens.
As you’re doing the laundry, checking the homework, making the meals, paying the bills, and doling out punishments it’s happening.
There are no do-overs.
So what if I did forget something? Was there a first something that I didn’t remember? An adventure I neglected to schedule? Whatever these things were, they seem to be lost and buried in the sea of photographs in my mind.
And if I did forget something, I’ll never know.
I am so fiercely proud of my children, of the people they are becoming, and of the direction their lives are heading. This is all their achievement, their hard work, theirs to savor.
So if I did forget something, I’m hoping it was small.
And I will keep searching the memories to see if I can find it.