Friday, May 14, 2010

The first time, ever I saw your face...

Momalom's Five for Ten: Memory

I remember the weight that my small arms held. I remember the pounding of my little heart, as it beat ferociously within my chest. I remember the warmth of the mid-March night. I remember the sweetness of that face.

My earliest memory is one of happiness. It is one of meeting someone who would be my constant companion for the next nineteen years and my life long friend. It was the day my mother brought home my sister.

I was barely three. We lived in Queens, New York at the time. I cannot recall anything about the apartment we lived in, but I do remember the roughness of the small plaid fabric that covered the sofa I carefully sat on.

My grandmother had come to stay with me for over a month before my sister was born. There were complications that required that my mother be hospitalized for the last couple of months before my sister was born. Nature is a tricky combatant. The final ultrasound determined that my sister was overdue, labor was induced with no desired results. Blood anticoagulants were reversed, an emergency cesarean delivered my beautiful baby sister.

Over the phone calls during that time apart, my mother had promised me the ability to hold my baby sister when she arrived at home. I don't remember my parents coming home, but I do remember sitting with my back all the way to the back of the couch. Of holding my breath in anticipation. Of the weight in my arms and her soft, pink face, as she sighed her sweet baby sighs in my small, inefficient arms.

I remember my grandmother arguing with my mother, pleading with her not to place my sister in my arms, that I was too little, that I would drop her. My mother placed that precious baby, bundled against the cold New York spring in scratchy, white woolen clothes and blanket.

I remember that newborn baby, opening her eyes and looking at me as if to say, "I know you. I am here."

In the pictures that were taken that night, my face shows a curious expression for such a young child. I have this look of wonder, of delight, of happiness.

All throughout her pregnancy, my mother ingrained in my young mind that I was this baby's little mother. That I was responsible for her. Truer words were never spoken.

For as long as I can remember, I have been my sister's keeper. You could say that my sister is indeed my oldest child, even though I am only three years older. I have been her biggest defender, ally, cheerleader, shoulder to cry on, and co-conspirator.

When my sister found out I was pregnant with Matthew, my oldest son, she never had any doubts about what kind of mother I would be. I don't know that I share her opinion, even now. But I was grateful that I had a practice run with her.

When I see my two young nieces, I am constantly reminded of how fortunate my sister and I have been, in spite of such a painful childhood. We had each other; always, to love and support the other. My nieces are following in suit. It is uncanny how much they look like us, act like us. A constant reminder of our good fortune.

I wonder what memories will stand out for my sons. Already, they talk about their youngest brother's birth, their young cousins' births, trips and activities we have shared. I wonder if one single event will stand out for them as my sister's birth stood out for me. I wonder if they have yet to have their life altering memory.

Memories, I feel, are gifts from the past. They are there, to carry you through hard times, through grief, longing, sadness.

They are there as a reminder of what worked, what was right, what was good, when things don't quite go as planned.

They are there to ground you. To remind you of who you are, what you are capable of, of the happiness your heart can hold.

But more importantly, like snapshots of a life well-lived, they are always with you. A quick glance back to a time when life was simpler, less chaotic.

As parents, we are bombarded by memories of our children's infancy, toddlerhood, middle childhood. We glean from the best, wistfully recall the details, the when's and why's.

This week, as we have taken on these topics from Momalom's Five for Ten Again, I have seen the natural transition of the topics.

It takes Courage to invite Happiness in.

Happiness brings Memories.

And of all of these, Memories of Happiness are by far the most cherished.


  1. Stopping in from earliest memories are also of my sister being born...I was just under three...I remember standing up on a stool at the window of the hospital nursery and my aunt and neighbor who were watching me telling me to sit on the couch so I could hold the baby as my parents pulled into the driveway...I can remember kicking my heels against the couch with sweet! Thanks for reminding me!

  2. You and your sister are so very, very lucky to have one another. I smiled, reading and looking at the photographs. Pure gold.

  3. What a wonderful trip down memory lane. I hope my son will be able to remember all the little things he's done with his sister at this young age...

  4. Maricarmen!!! I remember every single one of those moments...well... except the first two! I remember being so happy and I love you SO MUCH for finding these pictures of such fun and happy memories that we had together! I love you big sis! You are the best...I can't imagine not having you!!! xoxo

  5. WoW Maria! Que envidia, pero de la buena! May your lil ones be that close always. :- ) Kathy*

  6. This made me think of my big sister--our relationship sounds a lot like the one you have with your sister. Except, when I was brought home from the hospital, she thought I was a baby doll, and she asked my mom to take me back because, "she wanted a BROWN ONE." :)

    Thanks for sharing. This is lovely.

  7. Look at those pics! How cute! This post really made me cry and really made me miss my sister....

  8. This is exactly how siblings should be. There for each other, always, even if times are rough. Best friends and family can have arguments, disagreements, but it never takes away from the true center. This is what I wish for my boys, too.

  9. It's strange for me to read this. I'm the youngest in my family so I can't share any memories of a new sibling coming home from the hospital. I always begged my mom to give me a baby sister, but she never listened to me. ; ( I should ask my brother and sister what they remember about me coming home....

    I know our daughter has terrific memories of her baby brother, about how she got to spend the week with just Daddy and how they'd smuggle in chocolate milk shakes for me when they'd come see me. I hope that she'll always keep those and that they make her smile.

    New follower from Friday Follow. Hope you have a happy weekend!

  10. Those pictures are great. Nice to meet you!!
    I hope my kids remember their siblings in such a sweet way.

  11. Visiting from SITS. What a sweep post. You and your sister to have the relationship you do!


  12. I am weeping. I just moved away from my sister and your post prompted me to call her, even though we talked just yesterday. Sisters are the best!

  13. Oh how lucky you are to have such a relationship with your sister. It's what I always hoped to have with my brother and what I dream for my kids. this was beautiful.

  14. that is such a sweet memory. i loved reading about the day you met your sister. im follwoing from FF

  15. What awesome memories. It really makes me stop and think about how I am nurturing this relationship with my own children. Beautiful pictures.

  16. Nothing like the memories you make with siblings and children...

  17. I love that photo of you holding your new baby sister. You're absolutely right about the expression on your face! How special that you still have the photo! Thank you for sharing the story of being your sister's "little mother" over time.

  18. I am the little sister and, to this day, my sister and I are so close! We've had our moments, but I cannot imagine life without here. Our cheer - and everyone who knows us understands - is very simple: Sisters!

  19. I think my life would be different if i had a sister. You are very lucky. It was super sweet to read :)
    Happy Friday follow, Following you, come follow me back!

  20. What a beautiful tribute to your sister... I have two sisters, but unfortunately we're not that close and I hate that.
    I'm your latest follower through FF! I hope you'll stop by my blog at and say hello.

  21. Visiting from momalom. Beautiful post. I wad captured from the very beginning. It's so amazing and wonderful that you have that memory from just 3 years old.
    I love my sister like this, too. And she too was my first baby, asx I mothered her constantly. It's nice to just be friends now.

  22. Those pictures, especially the early ones, warm my heart. I always wondered what it would be like to have a sister, and your post makes it sound just beautiful.

  23. Maria, this post! Those photographs! I am so moved by the love between you and your sister and by how lucky you are in her and she in you. I think about how the future of your relationship was set up by those very simple words by your mother, telling you of your very special relationship with your sister. Despite having so many sisters, I don't actually have that so I want you to know how very fortunate you are.

  24. This is the dream I have for my monsters. So wonderfully and poignantly expressed here by you!

  25. This made me cry, Maria. What a powerful way you have with words. And a wonderful heart.

    These sentences totally did me in, "I don't remember my parents coming home, but I do remember sitting with my back all the way to the back of the couch. Of holding my breath in anticipation. Of the weight in my arms and her soft, pink face, as she sighed her sweet baby sighs in my small, inefficient arms."

  26. How fun it was to see these pics of you two...first of all, how lucky you both are, and how beautiful this post is. Secondly? You? Queens? So don't strike me as the Queens type...and the eyebrows in one of those shots? Love 'em..had a pair like 'em myself!

  27. Great Momalom posts! How did you find the time? It's such a busy time of year for teachers!! And mothers for that matter!!

    You and your sister are darling together. Do you still manage to see each other often?

  28. I, too, remember when my baby sister was born. We haven't always been close, but I'm so so grateful for her. To know that I am raising sisters is a special gift and, truthfully, a weighty one. And, I love how you've connected the themes of courage, happiness and memory. It's not something Sarah and I did consciously, and yet there is a certain kind of continuity.


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