The Fallacy of Memories

As my birthday approaches, and as I'm expecting our last baby, I've been thinking about my own birth, the months leading up to it, and my earliest years. I realize that I know almost nothing about my father (his choice) and more surprisingly almost as little about my mother who raised me.

I know that my parents never married. I know that my mother planned to put me up for adoption. But the rest is really vague and blank.

I have two very early memories--one from my first birthday and one from about four years old. However, I recently begun to question whether either of these is a "true" memory. I took enough psychology classes to understand episodic memory, how it forms, is recalled and recognized. But I also know that memories from these ages is highly uncommon. And the details which I remember are very minute.

And I remembered my mother validating the one memory when I was older, say 14 years old. And then it hit me:

Are these my memories, or are these stories that were retold to me from a young age with great detail until they felt real to me? Could it be that there was no yellow dress? Could the voice outside the car belong to someone else?


Memory is a fickle beast. I realize even at my age (I'll be 34 tomorrow), my remembrance of events is starting to fade. I hate the idea that some day I will be unable to recall happy memories at all, or at least not in the form I possess today.

This leads me to believe that it is essential to start writing now, until my fingers bleed, my eyes cross, and my head aches to capture the memories that are important for my children to "know" me one day when I'm fading.

I may never be able to capture who my parents are and what happened to lead to my birth, but I can and will capture as best as I can who I am for my children. Maybe someday my memoir will be published; maybe not. That's okay. So long as my children feel confident that they know me, that is all I need.

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