I could feel the grit of sand beneath my toes, the heat pushing down on my head and the icy tickle of the incoming tide.
I could hear the roar of the surf and the gentle buzz of adult conversation.
I could smell the salt and tang of ocean.
Perhaps my mind has simply filled in those details, like an artist shading and highlighting to give the picture more depth. What I DO know is that as I stood at the edge of the ocean, an enormous wave knocked me down and dragged me under the water.
Until my Dad reached down, pulled me out of the water and held me tight in his arms.
It was a split second in time, so heavy with sensation and emotion that it imprinted permanently on my young mind.
It’s easy to overlook children’s earliest experiences, especially when they are too young to form lasting memories. But those first three years shape our understanding of ourselves and the entire world. In a way, those traumas and triumphs, however small, are the most important memories of all. Even if we can’t quite recall them. Even if they are hazy or incomplete. Even if they are only a feeling. They become the scripts in our psyche – how we interpret events, what we expect from life and, ultimately, who we are.
At a very young age I learned that the world can be a scary place.
That waves are stronger than me.
And my Dad is stronger than the waves.
So here’s me, at age 2. I am convinced that this memory, and countless others like it, are the foundation if my confidence, resiliency, intimacy, trust… and faith. A good reminder that the endless menial tasks of parenthood – keeping babies safe, fed, warm and comforted – have lifelong effects.