What are you looking at?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Growing up, my five sisters and I each had a day of the week assigned to us. On this day, we got certain privileges such as getting to sit in the front seat of the car. In hind sight I realize this was genius on my mother's part and that it had more to do with maintaining her sanity than granting me a privilege. Six girls fighting over the front seat is not pretty. So, when we'd argue she'd say, "Who's day is it?!" Everyone would shuffle to a seat, someone would smugly slide into the front, and a semi state of peace was found. Brilliant I tell you.

Thursday was my day (I still feel a sense of ownership over this day. Thursday is mine...ALL MINE!) and on Thursdays I started noticing something...The parental side glance. You know what I mean. It's when your parent is driving and out of the corner of your eye, you notice them side glance at you, smile, and then look back at the road. Sometimes I'd even get a double glance (Probably when I started fixing my own hair and doing my own make up...scary). The older I got, the more I noticed my parents doing this. And the older I got, the more I'd ask, "What?" when they'd glance at me. They'd just smile and say, "Nothing." 

I think I understood on some level that they were observing me, but I couldn't possibly understand the thoughts and feelings that accompanied those observations until I became a parent myself. What I understand now is that the glances were happening long before I was old enough to sit in the front seat. They were happening in the rear view mirror. In fact they were happening starting the day I was born. They were glances of wonder at how quickly I was growing; of worry over difficult times I was going through; of pride and love. The older your children get, the less face to face time you have with them and those side glances become critical. Your time with them is growing shorter by the day. 

Though my kids aren't old enough to sit in the front seat yet, I already understand the importance of a precious glance at their faces as they grow and change. Every day I look at them and try to take a mental picture (and a whole heck of a lot of real pictures) of their sweet expressions, funny quirks, and over all innocence. I can flip through some of the mental pictures I've taken over time. I remember the way Maribelle's face looked when she screamed with colic (for eight long months). I can see her as a shy toddler, with bouncing blond ringlets, trying to work up the courage to go down the slide at the play ground. Now, she's a funny, out going, kind, beautiful nine year old. I could describe countless moments like this with each of my children (but I may cry if I do). Time is flying by and I can't stop dwelling on the limited time I have with my kids.

Maribelle age 2

I was changing my three-year-old's diaper last night (it was a doozy) and I said, "Jonas, you need to start going in the potty. Mommy doesn't want to change these stinky diapers anymore." His reply was, "Well, I'll change your diaper when you're a baby mommy." I laughed and said, "I'll never be a baby again and neither will you." Then I was still. It hit me. They'll never be babies again. I can't keep Jonas the age of three with his cute chunky thighs, round apple cheeks, and adorable lisp. Before I knew it, I was teary eyed. 

I then walked into the kitchen to find Maribelle and Campbell (my seven year old) sitting together, drawing at the table. "Mommy, we are writing a story about super heroes and drawing their outfits." I just stared at them as they worked. They didn't know I was watching them...adoring them...already missing them before they are even gone. 

The reality is that I can't stop time. So, what can I do? I can spend as much time with them as possible and teach them the most important things. I can take time each day to look in their faces as they talk to me about the books they've read, the dreams they've had, and the cheesy jokes they heard at school. I can take a breath when I'm angry, give them a hug, and tell them how important they are. 

Instead of dwelling on the fact that they will some day leave me (It will only be next door anyway. They've all signed contracts that they will live within a block of me even when they are married. And yes, I am delusional enough to believe their spouses will adore me. Oh, and also, they will never do anything wrong when they are teenagers.) I'm trying to enjoy the wonderful people they are becoming. I will do my best to teach them all the things they need to maneuver through this increasingly complex world until they some day find themselves side glancing at their own children. Then, they will begin to understand how much I love them.



  1. You know, if you read my blog you will think I am a very hateful person, its mostly a symptom of my depression (I can already hear the the "yea right"s). The one thing that always fills my heart with love and joy are my kids. Since recently my kids don't live with me anymore, everytime I get to visit my wife tells me that she can almost see the person I once was. Children are magic, the have spells that can make the ill-est person better again by just watching them be them. Thanks for this post.


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