Early Memories

“The Place Where Lost Things Go” Mary Poppins Returns                      favorite verses:

Memories you’ve shed, Gone for good you feared, They’re all around you still, Though they’ve disappeared, Nothing’s really left, Or lost without a trace, Nothing’s gone forever, Only out of place

Time to close your eyes, So sleep can come around, For when you dream you’ll find, All that’s lost is found, Maybe on the moon, Or maybe somewhere new, Maybe all you’re missing lives inside of you

Songwriters: Scott Wittman / Marc Shaiman,“The Place Where Lost Things Go” lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company  

In “Mary Poppins Returns,” Mary sings this soulful ballad as a lullaby to the children who are grieving the loss of their mother. The lyrics help them keep her memory alive. I heard this song on the Oscars the other night while I was planning to write about early memories.

Throughout my memoir, I question my ability to remember my birthmother. There is a sense of loss experienced in an adoption. A mother and infant are separated, seemingly forever. As an infant, I was too young to use language. So I wonder, Where are my memories? How are they stored without words?

Infants remember sounds from before they were born. They can identify their mother’s scent. Heather Turgeon, a psychotherapist who writes about child development and parenting,  calls it “our emotional memory.” Early memories are coded by our feelings and relationships around us. She further states, “This is why early childhood has such a powerful effect on us, even though we remember so little of it. Our first years are when we build our emotional blueprint of the world, and we take that understanding with us through the rest of our lives.” 

Heather Turgeon, “Kids and Memory: What Do Babies Remember?” Daily Beast, November 9, 2010.

Maybe all you’re missing lives inside of you. I am confident now that I have an emotional memory of my earliest experiences with my birthmother. I describe in the book times when I felt her presence. Searching has led to so much more than simply finding my birthparents’ names!

Learning about emotional memory has brought me back to my toddler years. Some favorite memories are bolstered by family stories and old photos. My mom loved to tell the story of my 2nd birthday party. My brother invited all the neighborhood kids—Mom found out when they all arrived! My daughter has a wonderful memory—people, colors, events! She remembers many things from around the age of 3—playing in our backyard, family holiday dinners, and her purple jelly shoes. Sometimes, it’s the little things in life that count!

Baby Congratulatory / Baptism Card

2 thoughts on “Early Memories”

  1. I am glad you highlighted that moving song I heard during the Oscars, “The place where lost things go.” Your blog brings tears to my eyes, sadness then joy. My birthmother and mother, one and the same, was lost to me during the time when I had no words for my feelings when she was hospitalized for a long time. Later she got better, I have a picture of her with me at age 5, holding my hand with our loving dog Ginny beside us…and the indelible memory of her for all my years is her sharing that “I alway tried to be there for you.” My loving Mother passed away one year ago today at age 97. Let’s all help each other to get better. Thank you for your terrific blog!

    Liked by 2 people

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