In This Moment: A Memoir of 5 Minutes

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

This post is linked up with the Red Dress Club’s memoir prompt, which asked: “imagine that after you have died and your daughter/son will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have him/her see? Tell us about them in the finest detail.”

Your small, but deft fingers dug into my arms with persistence, and I could feel the rhythm of your heartbeat quicken against my chest. I pressed my lips against the warmth of your flushed cheeks, as if to lend you strength in the form of a constant kiss.

“I love you, my sweet,” I whispered encouragingly. “I’ll keep you safe.”

Your trembling frame stiffened in protest as I tentatively held you away from the safety of my body, swaying you this way and that, as the lukewarm liquid caressed us, summoning us to let go, relax, and repose.

The tight line of your mouth began to slowly unseal, and I gazed in anticipation at the tip of your tiny, pink tongue emerging to explore a minuscule droplet of water hanging daintily from your full, bottom lip. This diminutive action seemed to trigger a wave of vigorous spirit that visibly undulated through your body.

Your magnetic, blue-green eyes brightened and widened, locking with mine as I tried to convey the hopes of my heart with a single look:

I love you. Be free. You can do whatever you put your mind to. Give yourself this happiness.

And then, as if my gaze had sent you a lightening bolt of vigor, you extended your darling arms and legs to explore the sea of sparkling blue surrounding you. You lifted your head high as you maneuvered yourself gracefully through the water, needing only the palm of my hand now for support.

Your mouth widened into a gaping, gummy smile, and you let loose an ear piercing squeal of delight. My heart melted as I felt the warmth of pure happiness fill me – the kind of lucid and unadulterated happiness that was merely mythical to me before there was a you.

I lifted your body, which now trembled with excitement rather than anticipation, and helped you to stand on the concrete wall surrounding the blue abyss. You stood firmly, with your head held high with glorious contentment. You looked left and right with dignified pleasure, as you noticed that the bodies next to you were those of much older children.

I interrupted your reverie as I asked you if you were ready to take the plunge. You responded with a smile and an animated shake of both hands.

Again, I lifted your body, this time taking a moment to examine your face high in the air above mine. You were looking at me with nothing short of glee, and in this moment, I felt tears of pride and joy prick the backs of my eyes.

In this moment, I felt a higher awareness that even fifty years from now, a flash of this moment will be my heart and mind’s indelible picture of you.

In this moment, I knew the words that I hope you will hear me saying in your heart and your mind throughout your life:

I love you. Be free. You can do whatever you put your mind to. Give yourself this happiness.

I Thought I Knew Mama will always remember this 5 minutes of her son’s first swim class when he was seven months old.

Mom and baby

In this moment, and all moments, I love you.

Please check out my other RemembeRED memoir posts:
In Loving Memory
My True Self: An Illustration

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MamaP February 15, 2011 at 11:10 am

You capture motherhood beautifully! A flash of the moment Jeff and I took swim classes so many years ago appeared – XOXO – many thanks for the recreation!


2 I Thought I Knew Mama February 15, 2011 at 11:13 am

Thank you! I would love to hear about that memory! xo


3 Nichole February 15, 2011 at 11:20 am

Oh, this is so amazing.
I could truly feel your love as you wove your thoughts with the action.
There are so many parts that I love, but my favorite piece is this: “I love you. Be free. You can do whatever you put your mind to. Give yourself this happiness.”
Gorgeous piece.
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4 I Thought I Knew Mama February 15, 2011 at 11:31 am

Thank you so much, Nichole! This means a lot coming from you because I LOVE your writing. Thanks for making my day!


5 Shayna February 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm

You write beautifully! I am now subscribed :)


6 I Thought I Knew Mama February 15, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Thank you! So glad to hear you have subscribed, too!


7 Julie February 15, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Beautiful portrait of letting go – of growing up both for you and your baby. I loved the pictures it drew up and led me into.

Visiting from TRDC. :)
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8 I Thought I Knew Mama February 15, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Thanks so much, Julie!


9 Miri@LifeAfterPush February 15, 2011 at 7:43 pm

This is beautiful. You’ve made me want to take my baby swimming.

Visiting from TRDC.
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10 I Thought I Knew Mama February 15, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Thank you, Miri. I hope you can take your baby swimming soon. It’s just so wonderful!


11 bluecottonmemory February 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Beautiful! I wish I could push a save button on moments like that – and pull them out and relive them – or show them to my sons when they get older and don’t remember those moments. You captured the moment perfectly!
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12 I Thought I Knew Mama February 15, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Thank you! I love the idea of a save button for life ;-)


13 Jessica February 15, 2011 at 9:46 pm

This is beautiful. Your love radiated through every last word. There is no doubt your son will feel it too when he reads this touching piece you left for him some day.
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14 I Thought I Knew Mama February 16, 2011 at 7:49 am

Thank you, Jessica! I love the idea of our writing being our legacy.


15 Jack@TheJackB February 16, 2011 at 1:50 am

I am not a mother, but I am a parent and I can relate to the moment that you described.


16 I Thought I Knew Mama February 16, 2011 at 7:51 am

Glad to hear it, Jack.


17 Mrs. Jen B February 16, 2011 at 10:52 am

Beautiful. Beautifully written, I was right there with you, feeling what you felt. So well done.
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18 I Thought I Knew Mama February 16, 2011 at 10:58 am

Thank you so much, Jen!


19 Andrea February 16, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Beautiful wording. I totally felt it and knew you were going swimming. My daughter (now four) started swimming last fall and it is so fun and so beautiful and so incredible, and yet somewhat startling to us, as parents, to watch them as they experience this first “splash” — great way of sharing that with all of us.
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20 Kim Winson February 16, 2011 at 10:03 pm


Kim, from Kludgy Mom’s SU thread.
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21 Jessica@ February 17, 2011 at 10:10 am

simply beautiful. you really have a gift with writing…

I’ll be back :)


22 I Thought I Knew Mama February 17, 2011 at 10:15 am

Thank you, Jessica! So glad you’ll be back ;-)


23 Mika February 21, 2011 at 7:22 am

I love your writing! I’m a new fan.
I’m following from the blog hop. I’d love a follow
back at


24 Molly B. April 9, 2013 at 3:05 pm

This is written so beautifully. You, and now your child, will always remember this. I love taking the time to record these special moments. If only there were more time in the day to do so!
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25 Charise Rohm Nulsen April 9, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Thank you so much, Molly! I really wish there was more time in the day to record these kinds of moments too!


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