Pandora’s Box: Preserving Her Scraps of Childhood

Posted on April 15, 2013 by

When she was little-not more than two- she was obsessed with a silky yellow and black polka dot swimsuit. It wasn’t a bikini- I shied away from the ‘Toddlers and Tiaras‘ set-instead, it was an adorable one piece tank style suit with an simple little ruffle that covered her rump.

Lily and RoseLike many little girls, she wore and wore that suit until it climbed up too high and I had to convince her that it fit better on her stuffed bear, Rosie. Carefully I placed Rosie’s long, spindly legs and arms through the swimsuit and tied a knot just below her neckline to keep it secure.  She was happy with the arrangement, and snuggled Rosie gently every night as she fell asleep.

Now, fourteen years later and several sizes larger, that memory surfaced as I was hanging up her lime green American Eagle string bikini after a night of hot tubbing with her friends. I’ve given up the battle over skin bearing suits, and trust her sense of modesty and self-confidence. Gone are the silver sparkle sneakers, the bows and headbands, and all the other innocent childhood fashions that kept her young forever.

Where has it gone?

I remember thinking that I could never survive the end of her childhood, sure that each subsequent stage couldn’t possible replace the absolute beauty of the one before. Gently I filled my pine wedding box with scraps of artwork, certificates and letters written in her childish hand. I tucked away unused diapers, baby socks and her favorite pair of red overalls, just to justify that she really was once that small. Photos, videos and journals fill boxes in my armoire as testaments to each moment, each step towards the moment I’m fearing the most right now: the one when she leaves.

She herself is hardly the sentimental type. Left to her, the memories would stay locked up inside, no tangible proof of the time she moved up from guppy to turtle in swimming lessons, or the little Colombian clothespin doll she created in honor of her great-grandmother’s heritage. Birthday cards, tied with ribbon, and letters that she wrote to ‘Jen’ professing her love mingle with newspaper clippings from gymnastic meets and ski races.

I can hardly bear to open the box right now. In fact, I can hardly write about it with my eyes tearing up with an overwhelming sense of absolute and overpowering love, tinged with a touch of sadness.

But I won’t let myself go there right now. Twelve months from now, when decisions are made, deposits placed, and the calendar ticks down to the remaining summer at home-maybe then I’ll crack it open and begin the process of unwrapping the last 18 years we’ve spent together.

Is this the way childhood is supposed to end? Bits and pieces of memories, tied together with love and tears, helping me to hold onto motherhood as I watch her grow up and away?

Is this how the Universe eases my grief? Squirreling away scraps and fragments of times joyous in the moment, melancholy in the past?

I’m fairly certain she has no idea the lengths I’ve gone to in keeping these moments alive and untouchable. But the one memory I don’t hold onto is Rosie. She was never willing to give her up, and although long removed from  under her covers, she resides somewhere close to her heart.

Maybe the time will come, twelve-or-so months from now, when she will reappear, and give me something to cling to, something to ease my grief, something to symbolize the love we created in her childhood. Until then, I’ll continue preserving her scraps of childhood, bit by bit.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Comments: 12

  • click this link

    September 24, 2014

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    Pandora’s Box: Preserving Her Scraps of Childhood – mamawolfe

  • learn more

    August 19, 2014

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    Pandora’s Box: Preserving Her Scraps of Childhood – mamawolfe

  • My Best Life, April 2013 - mamawolfe

    May 19, 2013

    […] I never was one of those women who knew for certain I wanted to be a mom, but the moment my daughter and son were born I knew it was the best decision I’d ever made. Both babies didn’t come ‘by the book’, and my labor certainly showed me an inner strength I never knew I had. The instant I held my first baby I changed from girl to woman to mom in an instant; when my second was born I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have two perfect little humans to love for the rest of my life. […]

  • Brenda

    April 25, 2013

    I can’t tell you how difficult this moment will be. You will survive it, but you’ll feel as if you are missing a limb. I am crying with you – even though I went through this a year ago. Hugs, my friend.
    Brenda recently posted…Ten Things I Hate About YouMy Profile

    • Jennifer Wolfe

      April 26, 2013

      Thank you for the words of encouragement…I’ll need them a lot in the next few years, I’m sure. I’m looking forward to seeing her grow, but afraid I will miss her terribly. Cannot even fathom it.

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