Treats for Daddy

Communicating with Family — By on October 21, 2010 at 12:03 pm

There is a hill in town that our family doesn’t often travel. There are excellent reasons to go up it but we just end up on other paths. My son and I drove up that hill recently on our way to a play date. From the backseat, his little voice said, “Mommy, this is how we go to get treats for Daddy” And he is right. At the top of this hill is a wonderful little bakery where he and I would go while my husband sat in the infusion chair. It’s where our son and I would go to pick up treats for Daddy and for ourselves before heading to pick him up from Chemo.

Part of my heart is breaking when I hear this because I can’t believe that he remembers this: it was almost two years ago and he was only two. Part of my heart is breaking that his first memory about this road is the bakery instead of remembering the park where we are headed today. Part of my heart is breaking from the guilt that I still feel from having to choose between my husband and our son each time he was scheduled for chemo. We live the entire United States away from our families and the impact of that was never felt as acutely as during his diagnosis and treatment.

But part of me smiles because if this is what he remembers about Daddy’s treatment then I am okay with that. If he remembers getting treats and special days with Mommy while Daddy was at the doctor’s, then I must have done something right. I remind myself what I had told myself back then; that I could decide to treat these days as special days off work with our son instead of the awful dark days that they could have become in my mind.

But his words were a powerful reminder to me about the memories of children and how they have the capacity to capture memories in a steel trap of a brain. And what they trap there, we don’t always have control over as parents. But I believe, and always try to remember, that we do have the ability to tip the odds in our favor about what they might remember someday. We can make choices to help those memories be mostly good for our children even when the context that we put those memories in as adult might be less than our favorite.

So, I’ll be good with the fact that today, at least, his memories are filled with treats and trips with Mommy even if that isn’t only what his Daddy and I remember about those months.

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