Wednesday, 14 July 2010
The memories that shape us
I find myself dissolving in to tears in front of the TV a lot these days. Last night it was the drama 'Lennon Naked', a few days a go it was upon viewing the excellent autobiographical love letter-cum-lament to Liverpool that is Terence Davies' 'Of Time and the City'. I've always been a bit of a soggy sentimentalist but it seems to happen a lot more these days. I examine this: is it because I am drinking more, because I am pushed to to the very limits of my energy stores? No, it's because I am a parent. Much of the matter that sees my stiff upper lip dampen is to do with kids. More precisely, to do with kids having all that they know, or as a consequence, all that they love, be it healthy or ailing, taken from them.
Being a Mum is hard. Maybe more so when you weren't set upon this path by choice. It is impossible not to observe the lifestyles of those close to you that do not have children; observe them popping to see a film on a Sunday afternoon; having a pint after work, lying in their beds until they are fully replenished as opposed to burning on their very last vapour, and not feel envy, or enchantment of the memory when this was your life. But it is when I see the subject of childhood depicted in such a powerful way that it gives me the timely reminder of what it is that I have; of what I can hope to shape, and of the simple joys that I can affect, of the magic that I can create.
Walking the dogs at the land at the back of my current home I am suddenly reminded of my own childhood. As I pass through the fields, mercifully left to grow wild and untamed, I notice all the different grasses left to grow to seed. I remember walking freely round the roads and lanes in the Eden Valley where I spent many of my young years. I remember the simple pleasure of dragging my fingertips through the soft grass, detaching the seed heads that bore the colour of a blush, and then gathering them in small handfuls and watching them fall to the ground as I unclenched my fists. Nature's confetti. I remember this, a quiet, gentle memory amongst the fractures of pain. Amongst the memories of fear, embarrassment, amongst the memories of feeling cut adrift.
I never really intended to become a parent, but there were certain vows that I made to myself should that ever happen. I remember these now, vows that I suppose are so much a part of me I need not recite them or revisit them but yet there they are. Walking through these fields, reminiscent of my own childhood's, it washes over me. In being a mother to my own children, this is what I have. I can shape the bank of memory that we all carry around with us, this thing that dictates who we are, this thing that feeds us, brands us. It is not the only influence, of course, but it is huge, unwieldy, and inescapable. This is a responsibility that now runs through me like a seam, and one for which I am so very grateful.