I have been enamored with a picture that my son sent me of my grandson, Finn, playing on the back porch of my Mom’s house. My childhood home. I have looked at that picture for what seems like hours and the thought hit me, “I wonder how many hours my mom and dad watched Ian play in that exact spot, with the exact toys, the exact way?” I remember. I remember it like it was yesterday. I can remember what he was wearing, the curls of his white hair, the Crazy Horse sweatshirt, boots and jeans, and I remember the smell of the grass on his hands. I don’t remember what day it all stopped. Tears streaked down my face several times yesterday when I got these pics. It is like looking at a dream from a long time ago. I have thought and thought about how it all happened and I didn’t even notice.
It came without any warning; life was going on about it’s business of going on. Time was racing by as time does and this momma was wishing it away. I always felt like I wished some stages of growth away. Maybe it was the testing of a two year old, maybe it was age 3, when they were abducted by aliens and returned to me as mouthy mini teenage poops, maybe it was their independence that I was wishing away, whatever it was, it came and it escaped without me knowing. One day I woke up and he wasn’t laying comfortably on the floor with tractor after tractor lined up by the barn. One day the girls didn’t have dolls, outfits and accessories all over the couch and each doll dressed perfectly. One day I didn’t vacuum up the shoes and ribbons and I didn’t even realize the sadness that came with that ending. The day we stopped playing with American Girl dolls, and packed them into the box that their Gaga made for them, I don’t remember, but the sadness has revisited me today. The day the beautiful red barn got stored in the basement rather than keeping it in Ian’s room as a reminder of his childhood….I don’t remember. It is killing me now to realize that I wasn’t present in my mind for realizing the enormity of these events.
A punch to the gut is easier for me than remembering the passing of time. When was the last night that Addie fell asleep on my lap? We had our ritual every night, then one night she didn’t. When did I stop listening for your pickup to creep up the drive, Ian? When did you stop asking me to fix your hair, Erin? I miss all of this. I miss the fact that you still needed me and I was too preoccupied with life that I took it for granted. I miss you standing on the stool in the kitchen while I washed dishes and talking to me about all of the things that plague a 5 year old. I didn’t realize how incredibly blessed I was by each moment. I lived in the idiotic place of “I will be happy when…” that so many of us get caught up in when we are 20 and 30 something. It took me too long to realize that I can be happy in the now!! I want a do over.
I want the moments back that I over disciplined where the punishment didn’t fit the crime. I will fix that. I want to go back and sit longer on the floor playing tractors or dolls. I want to let you sit on my lap reading as long as you want, and I won’t get up to change the laundry, it can wait. I want to smell your wind blown hair from running in the fall Nebraska breeze. I want to hold you longer, forgive me faster, tell you that you are so amazing even when you are exerting your independence. I want to go back and make right the stupid mistakes that helped form some of your habits now. I want to hold little hands, comb baby fine hair, smell the back of your necks. I can identify each of you in a crowd of a million by the back of your necks! I want to keep each memory so vividly that I will be able to see you perfectly when my memory fades. I want to feel needed again, not so dependent on being taken care of. I want to exercise my independence and be the strength that I used to have only better.
I want to never forget how this feels so that in this season of my life I won’t get robbed by the changes still to come with my children. I will be able to see it changing and I will scream “ slow down! Don’t stop playing yet!! You have enough time waste chasing the dollar! The laundry will wait, rock longer! Hold his hand! He will be embarrassed by it soon enough! “ and so many other things. Don’t remember the things that don’t matter. That’s a waste of brain power. Hang on to the little things. The Oreos, the back yard, the dry grass, the love.
Until then…. I love you