I remember a time when my daughter would fit between the inside of my elbow and the palm of my hand…she was like a little peanut encassed in a mummy shell that squeezed her in and kept her safe…and then suddenly she was a giant…she had thoughts, opinions and questions – God there were so many questions – and they usually centred around my life, who I was before she was ‘in my tummy’ and whether or not I had any fun when she wasn’t around. I dilly dallyed around the questions and I admit I struggled remembering who I was before she was me.
For my daughter there is no space between me and her…for her, we are one, she chats about things we did when she was a baby…she reauthors stories I have told her and places herself in the story….she chats about places we used to live…she recalls the time when she pooped on her papa’s floor when we lived there for a while…all with the power and wistfulness of an old woman recalling the major points of her life.
For a long time I’ve panicked about answering questons about who I was before we were and only in the last few months has she started to ask the questions I kinda knew she would.
Myf Warhurst rehashed a great piece in the paper today about doing the time warp and looking at the home you grew up in from the eyes you have now, not the ones you had then. Ive often thought about visiting the home I grew up in…I wondered if it still smelt the same…if the light would still catch the stained glass doorway like it used to in the morning. There is always one thing that stops me though, I know that if I stood there I wouldnt hear my sister thumping down the hallway, I wouldnt hear dad outside in the garden, I wouldnt hear the dogs yapping at every bloody person that walked past and I wouldnt see my mum flit from room to room. I know you cant go back in time but like Myf said in her article you can try and see if you’re still there.
My daughter asked me yesterday morning if I would explain to her where she went from the time I left the hospital with her until now….she wanted a timeline of her almost 6 years…I explained the first house with the white fence and the frangipani tree, the long trip overseas, the interlude at papa’s house, the teeny weeny flat that we found and then the move Home. She kept asking about the first place, like most of us she is beginning to understand place and time and the significance of where you have been. We chatted about it off and on for the rest of the day and then coincidentally I happened to be a few streets away from the white fence house that afternoon. I glanced into the rearview mirror and asked her if she wanted to pop by, she stopped, thought about it and said no. ‘No??’ I said back to her, ‘but we’ve been talking about that house all day and now its only just round the corner’….
She stopped, sighed and said ‘no mum, I just remembered I have no memory of that house so I don’t need to go there’….I guess Home is the place where the memories create the remembering that sticks with us, I hope this Home is the only one that she wants to come back to when she’s old and frazzled like her ma.
What about you…if you could step back would you step in??