It’s the summer of 1979. I'm four years old and it's still light out when it’s time for bed. I’m clean after my bath and in my pajamas when I hear the sounds of children playing. I stand up on my bed and look out my window and see all the neighborhood kids playing in my backyard and on my swing. Without me! Oh, how I want to go outside and be with them. It seems so early, like the day should not be over yet and I am missing out on the fun. I feel left out and helpless to do anything but cry, while those kids swing away on my swing. When my Mom comes in to see why I am crying, she tells me that I can’t go outside, and I cry even harder. How can I sleep when those kids are right there having fun without me?
My Mom looks out the window at the kids and she looks at me crying and she marches right outside and tells those kids that they can’t play on my swing unless I am there. She tells them to go play in their own yards and stands there, where I can see her, until they shuffle off back to their own homes. I lay down in my bed, feeling relieved that order has been restored. She comes back inside to tuck me into bed and sings me a song about how I am her sunshine. I fall asleep knowing that my Mom not only protects me, but she also protects my backyard and my swing, even when I am sleeping. She is my Mama Bear and she is fierce.
My Mom always stood up for me, again and again. She even faced the principal of my school once, on my behalf. She made sure I was treated fairly and I’m sure that I learned how to stand up for myself by watching her stand up for me. She showed me that you can’t let people push you around, and if you don’t like what they are doing or how they are treating you, then you have to tell them. It's an important message that children need to learn through observation and it's another example of how parenting is not always about how we choose to parent, it's about who we choose to be. If we act and behave the way we expect our children to, they will learn more from that than from anything we tell them.
I’m sure my mother wasn’t trying to do anything profound in that moment, she wanted me to go to bed and she knew I wouldn’t as long as those kids were there. You never know, as a parent, what moments will be remembered by your children. She just did what she knew she needed to do. As a child it was very comforting to know that my mother had such power. As an adult, I know that what she showed me that day made me shift my understanding of who and what my mother was. I saw her having an influence over something greater than just our family. She became bigger and stronger in my mind and she showed me that I could be that strong too.
This is my first post inspired by The Red Dress Club's memoir writing meme, Remembe(red). This week's assignment was Memory and Reflection. Please be sure to check out the other Remembe(red) submissions for Memory and Reflection.
I hope to continue to write posts inspired by The Red Dress Club and I am excited to be a part of this community of women writers. Constructive criticism is welcome.
PHOTO DETAILS: The top photo was taken at the house that I lived in from the time I was born until I was almost six. That's my son Milo looking out the patio doors. He's three in this picture. My parent's built the house together and they still own it and rent it out, so we were lucky enough to visit it between tenants a few years ago. It was very surreal to revisit the house I lived in only as a small child. All my memories of this place are hazy and sun drenched and everything seemed so much bigger. The second photo is a recent photo of my Mom, watching my son Quinn.