Friday, March 12, 2010

My Memory is Bad, But the Memories Are Good

I am feeling old, again. Suddenly I need reading glasses for reading the fine print and follow-up appointments with cardiologists for an irregularly beating heart. I have my twenty year high school reunion coming up this fall, and visits planned with college friends who I haven’t seen in almost 15 years. I have friends who are talking about retirement and old flames who have died. I keep doing the math of how old I will be when the girls possibly have their own children, and have made it a top parenting priority to do all I can to get them to procreate as early in life as possible so I can enjoy my grandchildren. I have a very real sense of the upcoming End of Days and a very real fear of what could possibly be ahead of us. Oh yes, I am all about doom and gloom, and have wiled away many hours wondering what’s in store for me, my family and loved ones. Because if one thing is certain in life it is that nothing is certain.

I was holding a friend’s baby the other day (my friend’s husband, who is FORTY, just had a heart attack…see what I mean?) and I was struck with how I barely remember when my babies were that small. So much focus on the day-to-day survival that all those sweet moments, which I certainly appreciate at times, seem to melt into a background that forms the foundation of a happy past, but a forgotten one. I remember the broad strokes, but not the small ones. Thank God for this blog, otherwise I would not remember a thing. Like, who took the first tentative steps? What were their first words? What did I do when they napped on and off all day? Sometimes, I just do not recall. So many holes in my memory.

This is in part my own fault. I need to slooooooow down and be in the moment more, that ever-quoted “be present” premise that is so easy to forget/ignore when dishes need to be put away and dinner needs to be made and laundry needs to be tackled. I need to turn off the Death Kneel Reel in my head. I need to not borrow worry and trouble (I am getting better at this) and just learn to love living in the gray and truly believe that whatever happens, we will handle. Little steps, little things, little moments.

Here’s an example: I was reading about Carey and Steph’s first trip to Disneyland with their three toddlers. And they did not bring a single stroller. Three kids way under three and no stroller? At first I thought, what, are they crazy? Was this an oversight? I read their logic: How they wanted to experience Disneyland through their children’s eyes and pace and agenda. Strollers put parents in control, not kids, and we adults have a very different idea of “fun” and “interesting” than people who have been on the planet a scant two years.

Suddenly, it made complete sense. It inspired me the very next day to let the girls free roam in Central Park. We went to the playground first and then, instead of wrestling them back in the stroller and going for walk through the Park on our way home, I let them stay out of the stroller and lead me around. It was great! A little slow at times, but they loved exploring and it was so much more rewarding than just me pushing them along, dictating the direction and narrating my journey. They both picked up souvenir sticks and rocks (that they still are playing with two days later) and seemed to extract enjoyment out of every free range minute. Madeline got in the stroller herself when she got tired (so much nicer than forcing her in or bribing her with Raisonettes) and Avery chose to continue walking, holding my hand, till we reached the very southern boundary of Central Park and then I had to put her back in. So, I must say, I am a convert. Of course, many times I will still have to use the stroller because it is a matter of safety in the city. But I am learning to loosen up a little on my stroller addiction.

In the middle of writing this post, I got an email telling me someone I went to high school friend died this morning of a heart attack, leaving behind a wife and three little kids. He was 37 years old. This is the second high school classmate to die in the past five months. How life changes on a dime, and how we worry over such stupid stuff.

Pictured above, the free-range girls. A mere couple hours later, Avery was down with the stomach flu. And below that, one of those little moments, interrupted by my insistence to capture said moment with my phone.


Malea said...

Old age.Ha! recently i remarked to a friend that it didn't make me feel very sexy when she looked at me over her reading glasses .She wittily said back "you better be glad i can see you at all".lmao

K J and the kids said...

I believe that your memory goes with each child. You having 2, and at the same time. OH GOOD LORD...forget about it (pun intended) Imagine me....I can't even remember if I already commented on your blog. oh well...if I comment twice then I can see what I thought a few moments ago.

No strollers is great. WHEN you can watch and keep each child safe. When they start splitting up is when it gets extremely hard.

Keep the memories alive with your blog. You do a great job of documenting how it all goes down.
and remember (write it down so you don't forget) that soon your "just surviving" times will ease up as those girls get older and you WILL be able to enjoy them more without trying so hard. :)
4 and 5 is when things start chaning. and I've heard 8 year olds are the BOMB ! :)

Carey said...

The no stroller thing was pretty awesome! There were a few times when I thought we might be crazy :) And I totally agree with KJ - when they split up, having a way to strap them down is SO smart!! :) Or uhm, when you are trying to keep track of five ;) I think it's great you tried something new - and that it worked for the three of you! I love when things happen like that!

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Calliope said...

so sorry for the loss of another friend. shit like that can make anyone feel adrift. The suddenness of it all...

hope everyone has recovered from the bug.


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Steph said...

I thought my wife was also crazy when she suggested the no stroller thing. She explained her point which I thought was brilliant and agreed to go along. I did think we'd at least pack a stroller in the car in case we realized we made a mistake but my wife didn't even give us that option as she left all the strollers at home. Luckily it worked out wonderfully! I'm glad we inspired you to try something new!