There are many things about my childhood I have forgotten. Or so I’ve been told. After all, I’ve forgotten them. For example, my sister and I were reminiscing recently about the times we used to get locked out after school while our parents were still at work. We’d find a way to climb up to the roof to get in through a side window that was often left open. One time, a neighbor who didn’t recognize us – or perhaps just greatly disliked us – saw us on the roof and called the police. My sister was so animated in her recollection of this near-arrest. I, on the other hand, could not remember this event even if my life depended upon it, which is odd to me given how dramatic it was.
One strong memory that I do have, however, falls so low on the excitement scale that there is hardly any logical reason for it to be as clear and as present as it is in my mind. It is the memory of being at the roller-skating rink as a child, going in circles over and over again in that run-down community rink. I remember going often. I wasn’t out to become some sort of professional, famous roller-skater, if there is such a thing. Apparently, I just really enjoyed the thrill of going around in circles, which may explain a lot about my current state. But I digress. The specific memory that stands out as though it were yesterday is that of my mom sitting on the side. I would look for, and happily find, her face with every round I made. Looking back, that must have been tortuously dull for her. She would bring me on weeknights, which meant she had to be up early the next day for work. And as hard as it is to imagine, I’m sure there were plenty of other things she would have rather been doing than watching me go around that rink, again and again and again. But it meant something to me. I remember her presence there so well.
We can be so easily deceived in our perception of the mundane things. Sometimes I hear people say something along the lines of, “I have a Masters degree. I shouldn’t have to clean up after people like this.” As if the serving of others ought to be reserved for people of lower significance, because not only are those people less important, but so is what they do. Many of my parent friends have told me about their struggle with what they do in secret every day. All day. Or all night. Change another poopy diaper. Do the same load of laundry I did three days ago. Cook yet another meal. No one knows, and no one sees, except this inconsolable child throwing a tantrum on the floor.
I probably threw plenty of tantrums throughout the other days when I was not at that roller-skating rink, complaining about who knows what. I don’t remember my tantrums, though I’m sure my mom does. She probably doesn’t remember much about those nights in the roller-skating rink, but I do. I remember them so very well.