So I did one of those things the other day where I fell deep into a black hole of memories. For a few devastating weeks I thought I had lost all of the photos from my hard drive in one of those full sweep the camera roll situations. So when I discovered them again it was a bit of the prodigal son kind of moment. I celebrated the lost and now found memories by absorbing all of my precious babes and crying big weepy cliche filled tears about how they are growing up too FAST!!!!
(I also did this in the middle of a very busy coffee shop but I’m going to hope this looked endearing instead of pathetic.)
Anyway, I think what surged the emotion was the awareness that some moments, particular in the videos, were all but forgotten to me. Obviously there are times in my children’s childhood I’m going to be okay slipping from the forefront of my thoughts. A few ugly ones from this week are already sticking out and I’d like them to be replaced. But the good stuff, the parts that I see as pivotal milestones in making these little people into the big people they will be one day, that is what I want to remember.
I try to make this space about my story. I work hard to let the words that I share be about me, allowing space for them to write their own story one day, or not at all. It should be their choice.
But what IS a part of my story is how I remember them and in turn how that shapes me.
What I want to remember...
Caroline Age 6 Years
I want to remember the way she lights up at the stories she is reading. The way she patters up the stairs in the morning hoping to snuggle up beside me, each of us with a book in hand sharing the parts of our stories that make us smile. I want to remember how she struggled to call herself a reader for so long, how her struggle for confidence worried me, and then how that just seemed to slip away when she was ready. Now I can’t seem to keep up with enough books at the ready.
I want to remember how proud she is of her writing. How she is excited to share every word with me and how even through horrible spelling errors, she doesn’t show hesitation. She approaches it with confidence, as if she knows if she doesn’t get her story down, it might be lost.
I want to remember her first experience with Harry Potter. I want to remember how the magic swept her away, just as it did with me. The stories have helped with her bravery and her ability to make sense of the real and the imaginary. And it is just so gosh darn fun to read these books again!
I love how she is learning to do hard things. How she was so excited to try a new sport, soccer, until it was a disaster of nerves each week. I want to remember how we all learned through this, how to try something out of our comfort zone before deciding what fits us best. I want to remember how now when I see her in front of an audience, a situation that still comes with great trepidation, that she has found what feels right for her, with dancing shoes on her feet or a song in her voice. It is hard, but with her growing confidence she shines. A lesson I try to hold onto for myself on the daily.
Elliott Age 4 years
I want to remember this boy’s charm. How he greets a room with confidence and enthusiasm. I want to remember how the checkout people at Trader Joe’s know very specific details of our day to day because of this little four year old and his desire to speak to anyone who will listen. And also make them smile as we walk away.
I want to remember how I discovered the magic behind cooperation is to keep him working. It was as if he was keeping this little secret from me and waiting for me to learn who he was and what he needed, we needed, to get through our day with a little more peace. Give him a sponge a spray bottle and he will go to town on anything with a reachable surface. Got something to chop, he even has knives for that. While it doesn’t come natural for me to bring my children into a space that I kept for myself, for my own quiet control, if this is what he needs to stay motivated, then I am on board.
I want to remember the way he carries himself with pride with a job well done. He is nearly giddy when he does something he knows will please me. That little dance and giggle and giant grin of pride is contagious. I can’t help but praise him and he knows that, seeks that, lives for that affirmation. If only we could all carry that level of self pride.
I want to remember the little things that bring him big joy in this very moment. Like mastering his foosball table. Building an epic train track. Reading a favorite book over and over and over (this month’s version is a new E.T. book.) Or finding a beat on whatever he has, usually the spoon against the table at every meal. These things are small and simple and I am aware they can change as swift as the wind. Which is all the more reason why they must be documented now, so I don’t forget to remember the little things in my life too.
Leo age 8 months
Oh Little Leo, my last baby. What don’t I want to remember? I am more fully aware with each day that passes of the need to imprint it all. Every little giggle, every smile, every snuggle, every smell. Never before with any of my babies has my heart ached to absorb each sensation before it slips out of my grasp.
I want to remember the smile that starts as a smirk and grows as my eye catches his. I want to remember the way he shuts his eyes and grins with his teeth when he knows he has our attention. The way his giggle erupts from his belly when he catches the performance of his brother and sister. I feel the joy of laughter and the ache of love all tangled up inside of my heart.
I want to remember how he loves to eat. Anything really. Whether nursing or sitting in a high chair, he is ready to consume it all. Purees or whole pieces, me or the bottle (FINALLY praise the LORD!). It all brings him delight. I have never experienced so much mess, and I don’t imagine this will be phasing out of my house any time soon. But to sit together at the table with him is one of the most enjoyable experiences we share as a family thus far.
While it is trying at times, I want to remember that I am his whole world. As he grows, there will always be new distractions, new joys to chase. But for right now in this age, he only has eyes for me (and me giving him food!) I want to remember how at the end of the day when I wrap him up, sing him a song, give the signals that the day is done and it is time to rest, he nuzzles his little head right under my chin, reaches up for my cheek, and hums right along with me. Its the simplest of gestures but in that moment, I feel myself sinking into this moment, right here right now, where the cares of the day just spent shrivel up and the concern for what the night ahead might bring lie dormant. I am right there with him, with all of them, with nothing but grateful memories on my mind.
Who knew a baby could give such a gift. The gift of remembering, and also a little help in closing out those moments that don’t spark joy. Thank you for this, little ones.