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Dredged Up

Welcome to the December 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Childhood Memories

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about memories of growing up — their own or the ones they’re helping their children create. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Tell me a story, she says, sleepy-eyed but unable to drift off.  Sweet innocence, curled against her pillow.  Tell me a story.


Geez, not again, I think.  I just want to go to sleep.  Gimme a f-ing break.


Pre-childbearing, I pictured myself spinning tales of adventure and mystery, with messages of wisdom and peace.  Yeah, right.  Pre-childbearing, I thought a lot of other stuff too, most of which has turned out to be total bullsh*t. 


There was a period, during Number 2’s potty training, when I pulled out my dormant storyteller.  Turned out, Number 2 had an intense fear of going number 2 anywhere but his size XXL diaper.  Unless.  Unless I told a long complicated never-before-heard installment in the ongoing fantasy adventures of Anna Zanes (Dan Zanes’ real life daughter, on whom my three-year-old had developed a huge crush/fixation).  As best I can recall, there were pirates and helicopters and Anna always had to save Dan from some perilous situation he had gotten himself into.  The day is saved!  The End, wipe, flush, wash.  Whew.


Eventually, the story phased out of the bathroom routine, thank goodness, since the well was pretty dry.  Not that it had a very big reservoir to start with.  And then Number 3 came along.


Tell me a story, she begs.  And my mind goes instantly blanker than the looks the kids give me when I suggest room-cleaning as a remedy for boredom.  That desperate self who managed to dredge up those long potty-training yarns seems like a distant stranger.  Fiction is far beyond my now post-divorce, post-depression, past-the-point-of-exhaustion capabilities.  I can’t think of anything.


Tell me the skates, then.rag doll, loved out of her clothes


The skates story, a story from my own childhood that I myself know only through my mother’s telling of it.  I was too young to remember, but apparently Santa brought me a beautiful rag doll (now cherished by my little story-hungry girl) on the same Christmas morning that my older siblings got roller skates.  And I (wretched ingrate) threw myself down and howled, “I WANT SKATES!!” all day long.  After which my mother was apparently so traumatized that she needed to remind me of this incident at numerous junctures in my subsequent development.


That horrid Christmas morning more than 40 years ago lives somewhere close to my daughter’s heart, a reminder that I, like her, was “the little one,” like her, oppressed in oh-so-many ways.  She asks for the skates over and over.   But it never stops there.


Tell me another one. 


Thus her persistence drags almost-forgotten memories out of the mixed-up files in my perimenopausal brain, one by one: nights by campfires, songs from summer camp, long-dead horses and dogs, the idiosyncratic habits of her great-grandparents.  In doing so, she reminds me what it was like to grow up, how it feels to be so small, so powerless, and how large the gaps between adult and child perception can be.  She is searching for connection, for solace, for a pathway into sleep.  And as she searches, she shows me myself, in perspective. 


I’m tired.  I resist.  Every night, I’d rather just read a novel for a few chapters to find my own way into rest.  But every night, she shows me how to find a little bit of myself, instead.  And the telling of the stories wraps my own childhood memories into hers, the same way my own mother’s re-told childhood is entangled in my own consciousness.  In this way I pass pieces of myself into my daughter, at her insistence.  And if all goes well, she will take this piecemeal history and create her own storyline to pass on. 


The end (until tomorrow). Good girl.  Goodnight.



Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Childhood Memories of Peace, Support, Joy, and Love — Amber at Heart Wanderings wants to make sure the majority of the memories that her children have as a part of their family are ones that are positive and help support the amazing people that they are now and will become as adults.
  • Hand Made Baby Books — Destany at They Are All of Me talks about why baby books are important to her for preserving memories of her childrens first years, and shows how she made one by hand for each child.
  • Can your childhood memories help you keep your cool?Here's To A Boring Year uses memories of being a child to keep her on the path to peaceful parenting.
  • Inter-Generational Memories {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about her own childhood memories, and what she hopes her daughter will remember in the future.
  • Snapshots — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings reflects on the ways our childhood memories appear to us, and hopes her own daughter's childhood will be one she remembers as being happy and fulfilled.
  • What makes the perfect parent? — In a guest post on Natural Parents Network, Mrs Green from Little Green Blog reflects on camp follow and camp no-follow...
  • In My Own Handwriting — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about her journals and the hope that they will be able to keep her stories alive even if she isn't able to.
  • Candlelight, fairylight, firelight — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud re-discovers the ingredients for bringing magic to life, especially at Christmas.
  • Making Memories (or) How We Celebrate Christmas — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about creating new memories at Christmas, and the joy their adventures bring to her whole family.
  • The Importance of Recording Feelings and Emotions and Not Just the Experience — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares why she puts pen to paper every day to record more than just her experiences as a mother and her daughter's experiences as a child. Jennifer looks at the importance of capturing feelings and emotions that accompany the experience.
  • Dredged up — Kenna at Million Tiny Things has been forced to recount childhood memories at bedtime, due to the failure of her middle-aged imagination. She resists, of course.
  • Crafting Memories — Handmade is what makes the holidays special for Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs, and she wants to create the same connection with her daughters that she remembers with her mother and grandmother.
  • My Childhood Memories; beacons of light in the darkness Stone Age Parent shares the impact of her childhood memories on her life as a parent today, listing some of her many rich childhood memories and how they now act as beacons of light helping her in the complex, often confusing world of child-rearing.
  • 10 Ways I Preserve Memories for My Children — From video interviews to time capsules, Dionna at Code Name: Mama wants to make sure her children have many different ways to cherish their childhood memories. Dionna's carnival post features ten of the ways she preserves memories; check out her Pinterest board for more ideas.
  • Memories of my mother — Luschka at Diary of a First Child remembers her mother and the fondest moments of her childhood, especially poignant as she sits by her mother's sickbed writing.
  • Creating Happy Childhood Memories through Family Traditions — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why family traditions are so important to her and her family and shares how she’s worked to create traditions for her children.
  • Traditional Christmas Tree — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep remembers the great times spent with her family driving for the Christmas Tree and the lessons learned.
  • Wet Socks and Presents — Kat at MomeeeZen writes about her favorite Christmas childhood memory and why it's so special. And she hopes one day her kids will also have a feel-good memory of their own to look back on.
  • Stuff does not equal memories — Lauren at Hobo Mama learns that letting go does not mean failing to remember.
  • A Child's Loss- Will They Remember Dad? — Erica at ChildOrganics writes about their family's loss of their husband and father. She trys to find answers to the question: Will they remember their Dad?
  • Childhood Memories - Hers and Mine — Jorje of Momma Jorje wished for her daughter the same passions and experiences she loved as a child, but learns the hard way to accept whatever passions strike in her child.
  • Holiday Non-TraditionsErika Gebhardt enjoys her family's tradition of not having traditions for the holidays.

Tags: Carnival of Natural Parenting, Christmas, holiday

Reader Comments



My son eats up my childhood stories as well, and I have the same experience of sitting there with a blank mind, trying to remember anything at all. (I'm also total crap at making up stories verbally, so I'm with you there and am impressed by your Anna Zanes series.)

I love your connection between telling our old stories and showing them our child selves — I think that's really what it is when I tell my childhood stories to Mikko. He's fascinated that I, too, was once like him, with those same mixed-up emotions and grand plans and embarrassing failures. I still am like that, but it connects better when it's coming from child me.

— Lauren @ Hobo Mama

You're awesome

As usual, your blog is awesome. My kids, too, search for a connection in which mom wasn't always the evil torturer, but instead was young and confused and often in trouble. Erika, formerly of cincodemommy now of

— Erika

So true

I am glad that I'm not the only parent with story-telling deficit disorder! I used up all my best ones early on and now I hate retelling them. My fall back is to ask them, theatre sports style, to give me a character, a setting and sometimes a problem. Then I'm ok. Luckily my husband is waaaaaay better at making up imaginative stories for my littles at bed time.

I love how you talk about your mother's childhood stories are now woven in with your stories and memories. As a child I loved hearing about what it was like when my parents were little. Strangely not all my daughters seem as intrigued by this, which makes me sad. My oldest does love hearing stories of the past but my middle daughter just wants elaborate fantasy stories with talking animals and the like.

Great post!

— Christy

I have a "tell me a story" kid too. In the car. At bedtime. Upon waking. It's my own fault - we've been reading to him since he was too itsy bitsy to care.
I've managed to turn it into a shared event - we take turns telling parts of the story, at least this gives me a break.
But he also loves hearing real life stories about himself and his family. It's a fun way to share the past!
Love your post :)

— Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

Aw your post made my heart swell up. So sweet. I too can relate as my two older children beg for stories every chance they get. It is exhausting to find and create stories to tell, but like you, I find the process not only soothes them, but me too. Thanks for sharing.

— Kat @ MomeeeZen

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