As a parent you have good days and you have bad days. Some days I parent my kids better than other days. Some days I have more patience. Some days they watch too much Daniel Tiger and Dora and only eat peanut butter and jam sandwiches all day. Some days my kids are absolute stinkers. Some days I’m in a funk and they help lift me out. Some days I have to apologize to them and others they have to apologize to me.
MOST days with my kids though are good ones, simply because they’re near me.
Then there are those perfect days. Those days that I think, how can life possibly get any better than this. Days when I remember where I came from – complete hopelessness – and what I dreamed of but never thought would happen. Well, it’s happening.
Now I know that similar days happened with my mom when my brother and I were little. I also know she had some days that were better than others. I know she had days that I’m sure she beat herself up. But I also know that what I remember are happy times. I don’t remember the monotony or feeling like we weren’t doing all kinds of fun stuff. I remember the love and the care. I don’t remember very many bad days with my mom and dad. But I know they had days just like we do where they were tearing their hair out. I don’t remember that though. I just remember feeling loved and taken care of. I hope that’s what my kids remember too. My guess is they will. Since I became a parent, I appreciate so much more of what my parents sacrificed, worked for and struggled with. SO MUCH MORE. Full circle.
I worry about what I will forget. So I write. And take lots of pictures. But the most important stuff, the conversations, the moments, cannot be captured. Don’t forget this.
We tend to forget the really bad stuff. Which is why as a recovering person, I keep my past close so I don’t repeat it. But kids? Kids remember the good. They remember the love. They may not remember the details of every event, but they remember the feeling they had when they think back on them. Even kids in terrible situations growing up talk about the few really happy good memories they have. It’s a human survival function I think, to remember the good stuff.
Sometimes I reflect back on all those years, all those Falls, all those weekends where everyone seemed to be out enjoying the family fun and feeling like I was missing out. It’s still there. I still feel it even though I’m with my family out enjoying the fun. It’s hard to explain unless you have felt it, the longing. It doesn’t ever really completely go away.
I imagine perfection in days, in moments, in these pearls gathered with my kids lately. They make my heart leap out of my chest. It’s living in the moment and taking it all in that makes it seem enormous, the weight of it all. The bad just seeps away during a stretch of time like this. It fills me up. And I need to be filled up. We all do. It’s how we keep going when it’s really really hard. Our tanks of hope and courage can sustain us if we take in enough of the really good stuff.
Last Thursday through Sunday was like that. The weather in Chicago was divine. Everything you hope for in Fall days. Stars Hollow perfection. Blue skies, sunshine, boots, scarves, a chill in the air but then warmth throughout the day down to your bones. The sun is setting earlier and that means bedtime is just a dream. Windows cracked and heavy blankets. 7pm and the room is dark and kids are exhausted and sleep like the dead. Then off I go to my Gilmore Girls and nachos and Cubs games (Fly the W!). All is right with the world in this moment. I will carry this and try not to forget.
Thank you. It’s too good and more than I deserve.
Sometimes I come off a stretch of time that was so perfect, so lovely, so absolutely astonishingly normal that I just have to pinch myself. Being with my family is like that lately. My twins are going to be 3 in January and they are past the age where they would dart off in any direction no matter the danger or worry. They stick close now for the most part and make everyday activities incredibly enjoyable.
It’s not anything fancy or expensive. It’s simple walks and talks and improvisation, like driving to a scarecrow festival, not finding parking then stopping at a naturescape/park and having a picnic instead. That’s the gold. Those are the days parents remember and the days kids will forget. It’s these conversations about Halloween decorations that get so intimate, so detailed, that I feel privileged to be a part of them. That I’m their person they ask their questions of and share their thoughts with.
These kids remember the good stuff. They don’t live in the disappointment or sadness. They look to the joy and the excitement and the fulfillment and making us proud. Being kind to each other makes me so so proud. They have a favorite thing from each day and they look forward to the next. They are lucky lucky kids and they know it. They are loved loved kids and they know it. We shower them with affirmation and love and yet discipline and voice our unhappiness. They understand forgiveness and moving on. Working through all this stuff on a daily basis is a learning experience for all of us and I’m so grateful for the chance to try again each day.
I’m not into guilt and shame when it comes to anybody’s parenting, least of all mine. I’ve already felt enough shame and guilt to last a lifetime so no, I’m not into it. I’m into joy and gratitude and hope and forgiveness. That’s how I’m parenting and hoping my kids drink that in. Not the stuff I’m not so proud of. And you know what? They don’t. They just want to love and get love in return. It’s the greatest thing. They act up because they are little kids. It’s not personal. What is personal is the connection and the trust. I never ever want to betray that. If I’m extra careful, I never will.
We are running like a well-oiled machine these days. I’m soaking it all in and really proud of all of us. This is a team effort. Even on days it’s hard, or hard-ish, it’s still ok. And it’s going to be ok. It’s a great thing to live life 24 hours at a time. Forgiveness and renewal is granted each night as we go to sleep and tomorrow is a new chance. These days. These precious fleeting days. They can’t all be winners, but so many of them are so very delicious.
These are the days. I never ever knew this joy until I met you.
YOU HAPPY MAMA? YOU HAPPY NOW?
Yes. I’m so happy. Because I get to be with you two. My favorite kids. And I’m so proud of you.
I’M SO PROUD OF YOU MAMA.
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