Monday, December 29, 2014

Good and safe

I guess my mom thought that giving me (really nice) cycling pants wasn't enough of a gift to pull at my heartstrings. She proved that some of the best gifts don't have an exorbitant price tag by sending me a montage of video clips from my childhood. At one point Gemma asked, "So, they didn't call you mom?" No, little lady, I haven't been a mom my whole life. Not even half of my life (yet).

I stared at my 7-month old self as I crawled to my first Christmas presents. I saw my first birthday party, where I held court with my 9 friends. I watched my first steps and then my first run and my first Easter dress. I saw how young my mom looked and how dark my dad's hair was. I saw when my first sister joined me in modeling the dresses my mom had made and how little hair she had (for, like, ever). I saw aunts and uncles looking the way I still kind of think of them until I am jarred by the reality of aging. I look in the mirror and no longer see my teenage self. That's not a bad thing. But also, I saw people in those videos who are no longer with us. It was all mostly amusing and interesting until I heard my grandpa's voice. Then I burst into tears.

As I wept, Donovan begged me not to cry because it would make him cry. Joel stopped him and said, "Mom loved them a lot and misses them. Grandma and Grandpa built a really unique family where they all got together and liked each other. That's something really special. It's ok for her to miss them."

Hearing my grandpa's voice reminds me of everything good and safe in my childhood. That's the epitome of my childhood: good and safe. That's all I could have asked for, right? That's what I want for my children.

It's not that I ever felt this pressure to please my grandparents. I do remember wanting to share my successes with them because they always made each little thing seem like great victories. They were kind and generous people, all four of them. Perhaps that was why, even at the age of 11, I sat on my grandpa's lap on Christmas Eve. My biggest sadness is that they aren't around to see my children. They were getting old, and I know that's how life works. I just think my grandparents would have thought my kids were pretty special. I guess I shouldn't be greedy, but take comfort in knowing my kids still have all of their grandparents.

I watched these videos and thought about those days of the past. It doesn't seem like that long ago. I have vivid memories of some of those moments. I remember several of those shirts that I wore, and some of those conscious (unfortunate) fashion choices. I thought about my own kids and the memories we are creating right now and felt a sudden surge of panic. I need to freeze time, I thought. It needs to stop right now while we can still carry everyone to bed.

Then I thought about how, on Christmas Day, Donovan said, multiple times, "I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M SAYING THIS!!" You see, he received an iPad mini from Santa. He'd hoped to get an iPod Touch (can everyone who calls it an iTouch please please stop it), but also didn't really believe it would happen. Only in his wildest dreams could he imagine he'd get an iPad. And throughout the day, he'd say things like, "Where's my iPad?" or "I should probably charge my iPad." or "Would you like to try my iPad?" and then he'd immediately throw his head back and cackle, "I've said so many sentences today I never thought I would!" Seriously, he said he couldn't believe he was saying these kinds of sentences probably no fewer than 20 times. And that was just Christmas Day.

Ainsleigh was beyond excited that what she thought, upon first seeing it, was a box of fancy mints turned out to be a blue phone for herself. Gemma changed her clothes about 42 times, rotating between the three new Frozen dress-ups she received, then plopped down to play with various toys. Joel sat marveling over his new mountain bike, trying to convince himself that no, it was not "too much bike" and yes, he should keep it.

These memories would never have happened if I had figured out how to freeze time a year ago. I imagine that if I learned how to freeze time today, I'd miss out on a lot of new and cool memories in the years to come.

So although part of aging is sad, a lot of it is pretty cool. I wasn't always a mom, and someday these small people who are just my kids will be parents in their own right (or at least adults with stories that might actually make sense). That will be pretty cool to watch, I imagine.

As I consider some New Year's Resolutions, I think my theme for the new year is going to be Wellness, with a focus on my own self and my family. I will make a conscious effort to consider how commitments and activities and time is spent and how it will improve wellness within myself and my family. I want my kids, years from now, to watch videos of our family and feel extreme nostalgia. And then, maybe through some tears, they can talk about how their childhood was good and safe.


Wanda said...

Well said. While I was watching those videos, I felt like your Grandpa could watch through the door at any minute. I also cried for times past, wishing I had those children back with me. But I realize that if that were the case, I wouldn't have the experience of cuddling new grandbabies and watching them grow into wonderful children.

Becca said...

If I could insert emoticons, I'd put like 20 applause hands and 5 crying faces. I like your spin on the not freezing time thing. I am going to have to think about that a lot.