Isn’t it crazy how where we’re from effects us so strongly, even when, like me, you’ve lived in other places for even longer than where you grew up? I lived in the same house in rural Pennsylvania my entire life, and my parents still live there, so perhaps I’m influenced more strongly by my childhood roots than the average person. But memories formed in our little kid brains seem to really hang on, and that’s something I think about a lot as I try to do the right things as a parent.
I’m constantly wondering: Will Frida remember this? When we do something fun like celebrate her birthday or visit the grandparents, I’m hoping yes. But when I do something I regret, like lose my temper, it’s a different story. For example, yesterday when I got home and Frida had somehow squeezed into the special white dress I had bought for her adoption day (and that I was saving for, I don’t know, her child?) and it was covered in berry smoothie. My reaction was like AAAAHHHHH!!! Like when you see an alligator. Or when you spill your coffee on your white shirt. She cried and I felt terrible. (I got the stains out with this amazing stuff—it was the first time I’d tried it and I was pleasantly surprised.)
Researchers believe that at around 3 or 4 years of age—Frida’s age now—longterm memories begin to form. My earliest memory is leaning over my crib and drooling onto the hardwood floor—my earliest act of rebellion! Also in this memory, though, my crib inexplicably moves from my bedroom to the living room and back, so who knows how reliable this one is.
According to a 2011 study, a very small percentage of earliest memories include traumatic or stressful events—which makes me feel a little bit better when I think about this and other times I didn’t handle myself in a way that the parenting books advise.
In these photos, Frida and I are on our way to the Harrisburg, PA airport after a weeklong visit to the home where I grew up. It’s a world away from my life in Northern California, but I still think about it at least once a day, and the memories come flooding back when I visit.
What’s your earliest memory??
WEARING: McGuire denim Gainsbourg baby bootcut jeans, $238; Freda Salvador Star ankle boots, $595; Phillies t-shirt, thrifted, similar here (I want this one!); Antik Batik wallet/clutch, sold out, similar here and here; glasses from GlassesUSA, Fjallraven Kanken mini backpack, $60. Frida’s whole outfit is thrifted except the shoes, but you can find a similar poncho here and here, and a similar dress here and here. And her shoes are by Keen.
[Photos by Richard Philipkoski]