They say that most people do not develop the neural capabilities to start making memories until the age of three years old. When I was a child part of my nightly ritual included recounting every single day and memory I could recall in chronological order. I became obsessed with remembering and holding onto as much as possible without ever thinking to write it all down. Eventually I let go of this practice but I still generally maintained a good memory. If it was a day I remembered clearly I could recount it with details like who was there, what they were wearing, the color of the walls, etc.
I noticed my memory start to go once I fell pregnant with my first child over eight years ago. I was working as an assistant fashion designer in NYC in an office where I would frequently be asked questions like; “which button did we used three years ago on that jacket?” I wasn’t even in the industry three years prior at that point but for some reason you are expected to
get into your Delorian, time travel and just know. I had to start looking back through the records for things that had been done within my time there because all of a sudden I had no fucking clue what my boss was talking about pretty much 90% of the time. I am a firm believer that babies are the real zombies of the world since their first order of fetal business is to gobble up your brains.
I started to feel a lot like Kelly Bundy in the episode “Kelly Knows Something” of Married With Children where Bud was trying to prepare her for a sports trivia show. As a result for every fact she learned she lost basic information like how to work a door knob. I always wondered how much of our memory is finite. However, rather than stress out about the new state of my memory, I decided to make like Elsa and “Let it Go.” They say living in the past is living in depression and living in the future is living in anxiety. I adapted with the conscious decision to try to be the picture of present living zen. Can you say Ooooohhhhmmmmm.
Recently I came across a Reddit thread where people were discussing their memories. A few commented about the first time they “woke up,” so to speak, and saw drawings on the walls they knew they had made but didn’t until then remember the actual making of them. This blew my mind and lit a spark in me. For all of my relentless memory keeping early on, I can not recall my first memory. I can remember bits and pieces but not that first and looking back I realize how much I’ve actually lost over the years. I also often
worry think about what my boys will remember and how those memories will begin while I pray they are positive and not therapy inducing.
And then I came across another article about Rebecca Sharrock, a 26 year old Aussie with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), who can remember every day of her life in detail from the time she was 12 days old. Thankfully she is writing a book all about the incredible things stored in her memory that her brain will not allow her to forget like the time she started dreaming around 18 months old, and how that affected her as a toddler by contributing to a newly formed separation anxiety. There is so much we can learn about the human brain from this woman and all 60-80 people like her in existence in this world that can help us understand the littlest and most incoherent of us, but I am also secretly grateful that my kids do not share in this phenomenon. As if parenting isn’t stressful enough the last thing I need is my kid remembering every detail of every time I lost my shit, especially in those first three years.
In the immortal words of Louis C.K., babies are “…like an Etch-A-Sketch that you shake everyday.” Just the way I like it.