Is Your First Memory Real?

     What is the very first memory you have? How old were you? Most researchers believe most early memories are not true. We base them on stories we’ve heard or photos we’ve seen. That may be true, but does it make it less of a memory?

     I believe first memories can be foundational to who we are. It must have been an important event, even if a small one. Why would our brains hold on to it if it didn’t really matter? So, it got me thinking about my first memory. Why do I remember it? Why am I holding on to it? Am I making it mean more than it is? Was it real?

    It was springtime. They dressed me in my little yellow dress. I think I hated dresses even then. White hat with a yellow ribbon. White gloves. White patent shoes. It was Easter. I believe it was 1967 which made me 3 years old. I don’t remember church, but I know we went. I don’t remember waking up to an Easter basket, though I’m sure I did. What I do remember is my grandmother’s backyard. I’m sure if I could go back there now it would seem a small postage stamp yard, but then it was the world! Fully fenced with lilac bushes, lilies beginning to bloom, and hedges all along the fence that encapsulated the entire yard. 

I walk out the back door, down the 3 steps with my empty basket in hand and run as fast as I can to the little bushes to the right. I could see the color of the egg peeking through the grass. I grabbed it and put it in my basket. “Found one!” I hollered. 

That is my memory. Just me in the backyard. In that Easter outfit. Looking like a little doll my mom could dress up that day. It’s funny what we remember and why. Knowing my family and our past rituals, I am sure there were others there. Cousins aplenty. I’m sure all the moms were standing on the carport chatting while the kids ran around the yard finding the eggs. But, I only remember myself.

Why?

As long as I can remember I loved pleasing people. I would perform, smile, laugh, whatever it took to make them smile and keep them happy. If you knew my mother, you would know this was no easy feat. But, I remember her happy that day. I’m sure she delighted in what I was wearing. Yellow was her favorite color and I looked like a little doll. Then I would find an egg she had hidden and there was delight in her face; I had succeeded. Then, the part I can’t remember, but I imagine as history dictates, the rest of the time went something like this…

“Mommy, we found them all! Hide them again! Hide them again!”

“No, Barbie. I hid them once. Have your cousins hide them for you.”

And like that it was over. The attention, no longer there. Quick. Fleeting. Just as I remember. 

What is your earliest memory and why do you believe it is the one? Share with us in the comments below. 

8 thoughts on “Is Your First Memory Real?

  1. What a neat idea! I am trying to recall my first memory and I keep coming up with different times. Sitting on the lap of my Ninny(grandmama) or going to the beach with my family. As I am recalling these memories, I am smiling. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My first memory is of reaching high above my head to hold my grandfather’s hand as we walked through the dark to a lit doorway with another light shining above it. I was 2-1/2 years old. We walked through that door and stepped to the glassed in room that held the new babies. A nurse held up my baby sister. My mother walked out to join us in the hall, wearing a robe, and smiling at us as we all admired the baby. I was proud of that baby sister, but then she came home, and I learned that I was no longer the center of my parents’ world.

    I was the firstborn, one who basked in the entire focused attention of both of my parents. My mother had already taught me poetry, which I could memorize quickly. I was a handful of intellectual and physical energy, reading at age three. All of her focus had on been on training and teaching me. The arrival of my sister changed my life. I never recovered. I thought that the arrival of the new baby meant that I was no longer loved. That sounds melodramatic, but my efforts to gain parental attention and approval after that literally shaped every bad decision of my early years and much of my attention-seeking behavior well into adulthood. Early memories often can tell us much. Let it be noted: I love my sister, who turned out to be an amazing friend and an incredible woman.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! Thanks for sharing Melinda. That is fascinating. I was an only child, so one would expect lots of doting over the years. For the most part, that wasn’t so. My mom told me that she had a baby so someone would love her. My whole life has been shaped around that bad “theology”.
      I’m glad you didn’t keep a grudge about your sister! 🙂

      Like

  3. Wow, I will have to think back to find my first memory. I think it would be playing in the parking lot behind our home playing with the neighbors. We had so much fun running around. Thanks for taking me down memory lane.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have memories from a very young age. My twin sister and I sometimes remember something the other one doesn’t. Author, Lysa Terkeurst, in one of her books said Dr. Caroline Leaf who has completed a lot of research on the brain says we remember things we had an emotion attached to: surprise, happiness, sadness, excitement, trauma, etc…

    And I believe that’s often true.

    Liked by 1 person

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