Friday, May 1, 2015

Too Many Feelings

Childhood is short and fleeting. Read the caption on any single mother's Instagram post on the birthday of her child and you are sure to be reminded that "it goes so fast."

I am certainly no stranger to such sentimentality. I suffer from the same fear of time. I, too,  am plagued by nostalgia.

It's a big responsibility, these brief, fragile days of youth we are entrusted with. We must make the most of them. There are times when I worry I am squandering them, allowing them to be wasted while my children plug in so I can attend to the business of running a house or find a few moments for myself. That guilt serves as a powerful motivator. The knowledge that there are a finite number of days that we will share together makes me pack up a picnic to be eaten after a morning full of dentist appointments. It takes me to a park so my kids can hang from monkey bars and roll down hills, find dandelions to make wishes on and push each other down slides.  I didn't really want to do it -- there were a dozen things I felt like I should do-- but we were already going to be out and dressed and on the move, so why not make it special?

Lately I have found myself afraid of dying, afraid of the time when I will leave this earth. I believe in Jesus and heaven and eternal life, and even still, I'm afraid of departing this earth, this life. I'm not afraid of an untimely death. I'm afraid that 100 years, should I be given them, would still not be enough. I know I can't give myself a single extra day, but I know that I can do the best I can with the ones I am given. Yesterday it meant taking my kids to Quiet Waters Park. Tomorrow it means visiting friends. Sunday it means celebrating with my family. Each day it means I need to find joy and give it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Standing in Front of the Cherry Tree

We stood in front of this same tree a little over ten years ago. This year spring came late and the blossoms didn't bloom in time. Not every cycle is just the same. Ten years ago we stood in front of this tree in front of my parent's house a few hours after we said we did on the pier out back in front of seventeen people. I wore a yellow dress my mama made me. Tom wore the suit his dad bought him. I remember wondering if I should have felt more at the moment-- the moment after the pastor spoke, and I was looking into Tom's eyes. I knew it was one of the biggest days of my life, but it didn't feel that big.

That night we drove across the bay. I packed a breast pump and a fake id. I thought I should probably drink wine on my honeymoon. Wine seemed like the thing grown ups drank. We hadn't yet learned we didn't like wine. Since then we've learned a lot about what we like and even more about being grown ups.

We learned that grown ups stay in with sick kids while their friends go see shows. We've learned that grown ups pay their bills, and they have to not lose important papers.  We've learned that sometimes grown ups get bored, and that there is more to life than just being excited.

There was a time before I learned some things I needed to know that I couldn't watch the indie romantic-comedies that have always been my favorite. I was jealous of all the people who were falling in love. I was sad that I was never supposed to do that again. I got mad at Jane Austen and Edith Wharton and all those writers who wrote about women whose only decision in life was deciding who to marry. I had already made that decision, or rather it had been made for me, and the rest of my life seemed to be a giant forgone conclusion.

Ten years later we're standing back in front of the tree three days after we celebrated our anniversary alone, at home, all four of our children away at Oma's house. We grilled grass fed steaks and roasted asparagus and got tipsy while talking about truth, lies, fiction, and gratitude. I was convinced that every thought needed to be revisited. It all felt real and raw and beautiful, and I couldn't believe how happy I was to be sitting on a screened-in porch in late April with the man I married ten years before.

It feels like it was yesterday. It feels like it has been an eternity.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Watching and Waiting

I spend so much time staring at their backs, small backs with sloping shoulders that will transform one of these days. My sons' shoulders will broaden. My daughters' waists will narrow.

I spend so much time watching them lead the way as I trail behind. They crash into waves or wade into still water. They take off on their bikes or tumble down the neighborhood hills.  They are always leaving.

Sometimes, they turn around to see if I'm watching, following. Our eyes meet. Sometimes they are grateful to know I am there. Sometimes, they wish for me to turn around, to leave them to their adventures.

I think of all the times to come. I will watch their backs peeking from behind the driver's seat . I will watch their backs fade into anonymity at crowded airports. I will watch as they walk down the isle.

My back, however, will always remain a mystery to them. I will always be somewhere behind, waiting for their returns, which will one day turn to visits, waiting for our eyes to meet once again.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Last Weekend We // So Much Family

By early Sunday evening, I was looking forward to Monday. The weekend wore me out. It was full of people I love, but it was also busy and exhausting. We had a birthday dinner for my mom on Friday evening, and then I went to visit my aunt on Saturday, and on Sunday my granddad and another aunt came over for dinner after they went and saw my dad's most recent play.  All good things, but it made for a lot of house cleaning and meal preparing, plus a good amount of driving. 

I grew up with a full house, and so it seems only natural to fill my house now. On Friday, everyone came over to my house for my mom's birthday dinner, and there are certainly a lot of us, and the numbers are growing. Over the course of the night five of my parents' six kids came over, with four significant others. There were four grandkids running around or being passed around, plus my dad before he had to leave for curtain call. By the end of summer there will be another grandbaby, and in the next few years, who knows how many more might join our ranks. 

Among all these people there are hurt feelings and miscommunications and messes, both physical and emotional.  It's damn near impossible to not be worried about one of them at any given time. But it must be pretty obvious that I think the big family drama is worth the price I pay, otherwise, I should probably have stopped having babies a couple of kids ago. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mid-Week Hangs

If your friends from New York come to visit your Podunk town, there's no point in trying to wine and dine them because the only decent restaurant around proudly displays a portrait of Ronald Regan AND a Republicans Playing Poker print. Besides, the wines and dines are better in the city anyway.

All you can offer is the things the city can't give: rope swings, grilled food, bonfires, and driftwood forts. And you can spend aimless hours puttering among the yard and porch and beach.  You can watch your kids teach them the beauty of Crossy Roads, and you can discover the joy of iPhone slo-mo video together. You can drink lots of cheap coffee, and you can sing along to the soundtrack of your friendship. But beware: You will likely drink too much and sleep too little.