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H20: Installment#4/Intro-Part 2/Clollecting Memories

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H20 TO GO!

Growing Emotional Resiliency & Navigating Through Childhood

with Heart, Humor & Optimism

By Margo Judge


H20: Book Installment #4


 Introduction: Taking Stock Part 2-Collecting Memories, the Good Kind! (Abbreviated)


We've decluttered.  We have new space.  And that space can now be used for memories we will want to pass on, or to create with and for our new baby.

Collecting Memories-the good kind.

When I was young and studying theater, my acting instructor gave us some advice I later came to view as quite profound.  She said that to feel a ‘big emotion' you needed only to think of a ‘small detail.' In other words, if we were doing a scene that called for great sadness, fear, or anxiety, we did not have to conjure up the whole experience of a loved one's death, a terrifying ordeal, or worrisome event.  We could focus instead, on some singular moment, visual or sound of that memory--the tipping point, so to speak--that would bring the whole memory back in living color.

If I wanted to bring on tears now, one of the easiest ways would be to recollect that moment when I saw my, then four year old, son go off on his very first day of pre-school. All the parents had said their good-byes on the playground and then I watched from my car, as he was first paired with another little boy, given a blue canvas bag, and then gently guided into a line-and this is the visual I remember: this little figure in line, holding a large blue canvas book bag which was practically as big as he was, about to walk up the steps of the school. I sat in my car and cried and cried. As I am writing this again tears well up in my eyes. All I have to do is picture his little figure holding that huge book bag.  If I wanted to bring up a feeling of great joy--hearing my son's very first cry at the hospital; of total panic-my son vanishing right in front of me one day in the playground for what seemed like an eternity; of total relief--peering out from behind a tree saying peek-a-boo Mommy; of total helplessness--driving in circles, canvassing the neighborhood, not finding him because the summer camp bus driver dropped him off at the wrong stop and had not waited to be sure a parent was there to pick him up; of unbelievable  relief--seeing him sitting on the grass in front of a house, playing a video game, waiting calmly for me to find him because I always used to say that there wasn't a corner of this earth where he could go where I would not find him-good thing I said that as often as I did! 

I have so many memories of my son's growing up.  He probably doesn't have as many, but the ones he does have are extremely important and special to him.

When I went to see Billy Crystal in '700 Sundays,' I realized how wonderful and poignant and humorous were his memories of his father, his family, his childhood, and growing up...and it brought home this simple truth:

We are responsible for our children's memories, and we alone can decide whether they will be positive or negative. 

Maya Angelou wrote in her poem:

that she can't change...the nature of her parents..
that her childhood may not have been perfect...but it's over...

It is over.  Maybe we have some bad childhood memories. Maybe we're trying very hard to get past and beyond them because they have tremendous influence over what we do and do not do in our own lives and how we interact with our own children when, just like my acting teacher said, a word, action, sound or picture touches a nerve.  But once we become parents, we cannot afford to pass any of our negative past to our child. Instead, what we can do is start, for our new baby, a treasure chest full of his/her own memories, one we create that can be of warmth, comfort, and support. And we can start filling that chest as soon as our baby is born.  An added benefit of doing this will be that we no longer focus on our own past, but rather the present and the future well-being of our child. 

We might be extremely busy working, overwhelmed with household chores, burdened with an elderly relative.  We might be worried about finances, going through a rough separation, or concerned with a health problem. But our child still needs that memory chest.  It is vital for his/her emotional health. 

A big theme in H20 is not getting stuck in a moment in time, and keeping our children moving forward in spirit and emotional growth.  Right here, with a memory chest, we begin.  Memories are so very powerful and as an emotional investment, they will will reap huge profits further on in our child's emotional development.

So, how do we store good memories?

1) By continuing and/or starting traditions--certain joyous happenings that we pass on from our own childhood, or new ones we keep on a consistent basis that our children can remember- yes, we walked Spot each night, we rented a family video every Friday, or we went there every Sunday, or ate this on Saturdays, or spoke to Grandma on Tuesdays; we said a special prayer for grandpa or we made up funny stories at dinner.

 2) By keeping symbols and mementos that remind our children of family, their room, their home, their pets, their friends, and anything or anyone positive in their lives. This can be done with photos, scrapbooks, drawings, stickers, stuffed animals, notes, or music-things our children can put in their backpacks, or on their walls, atop their beds, in their pockets.

3) By creating special times to remember- birthdays and holidays, designating a day for favorite meals, or surprise treats; trips, events, or activities that are fun-the time Mom actually joined in the water gun fight!

4) By story-telling about ourselves, relatives and ancestors, friends or co-workers-any tales that can bring laughter and wisdom, insight and support.(I will speak more of this later on in the book)

5) By showing love a consistent basis--giving bear hugs that don't have a cut-off age, kissing our kids before they go out the door, and when they return, no matter how old they are; and telling them we love them, all the time.

By the way-

None of these takes a lot of money  Any one of these can be done in minimal time, and limited space, and all of these are equal opportunity.

Just as my acting intructor said-the weight is in the detail, the small moment. We need just one tradition. One symbol.  One memento. One special time.  One surprise treat.  One Activity.  One hug every day, no matter what.  One something our children can hold onto and cherish. We, as parents, no matter what our circumstances, have within us, the power to create for our children some small, loving environment (it doesn't have to be a big space- it can be a corner, a chair--it just has to be warm) and a few wonderful memories (they, too, do not have to be major-they can be small--they just have to be special). And it is our passion for our child that should make creating such a collection, a true labor of love. If you are thinking, well I have older children-is it too late? No. It is never too late to start a new memory chest. 

So, here's to the beginning of wonderful moments in time our new baby will deserve to have.  And here's to making sure those moments in time are carefully collected and stored in a memory chest, safe and warm. Our child can never have too many fond memories.  And that memory chest can never become too full.  It will be the only legacy we truly need to leave our children, and the most treasured gift of emotional well-being that they can receive and pass on to their own children. 

End of Introduction: Taking Stock

Next: Installment #5

Book: Installment #5/Preview Chapter 1-Growing A Heart 



Would love to hear from you! comments


H20: Installment #1 /Preface:Why Heart, Humor & Optimism

H20: Installment #2Introduction-Taking Stock


Updated 2009

H20-Copyright, 2004
By  Margo Judge

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