Friday, January 8, 2016

Hoarding memories.

When my kids were babies, I had a theory, as an undergraduate and then graduate Psychology student, respectively, about how to get my kids to sleep without crying. I made a mixed cd of calming songs, songs that I didn't mind listening to night after night, and started playing the music in a darkened room while having their last bottle feeding of the night. We sat, my child and I, together, and listened to the music while I rocked her/him to sleep.

It's been years since those nights of sitting and sniffing their little heads and stroking tiny fingertips, but when I listen to particular songs I am transported right back. For Phoenix, it's "Black Star", by Radiohead, Coraline,"The Rain Song", by Led Zeppelin and Holden, "At least that's what she said", by Wilco.

Me and baby Holden.

I remember how I sat, Phoenix, on the floor of her bedroom, Indian style. Coraline, in a desk chair. Holden on the edge of my bed, crib to the side of me. I remember how cradling each of them and looking into their sleepy eyes felt. Brushing the tufts of hair on the tops of their heads and tracing my finger gently across each of their baby cheeks. I think at the moment, I thought that was for them, but really it was for me. I remember falling into their breathing rhythm as they calmed and almost dozing off myself. Those were some of the most peaceful moments of my life.

I will cherish those thoughts for as long as I live and beyond, and I'm so happy to have musical reminders of our special times together. I listen to their songs when I feel like they're getting too big and time's going too fast. Sometimes I need to slow everything down and just let it all sink in.

When I feel particularly sentimental, I open, "The Boxes."

I'm not kidding when I say that I have boxes and boxes of their old baby, toddler, preschool, school age, etc., stuff in my basement. Boxes upon boxes. There was an episode of The Goldberg's where the mother's entire garage is filled with baby memories and they try to make her get rid of it. Well, that's gonna be my garage, and I would snap. I have plans for those boxes. I'm going to listen to my songs on repeat like a lunatic and roll around in all their baby stuff and weep. I swear. And the bigger they get, the more I want to grab up every piece of them I can, so I try to get my hugs and snuggles in while I can. I want to pause them right here and never let them grow up, but of course I know I can't do that. So I pause them in photos and art projects and backwards-lettered love notes.

Cora, Holden and Phoenix.

But I can't spend all my time in the past, and I know that, especially when they are so amazing right in front of me. Instead, my thoughts lately, have turned to grieving the old and moving onto the new. It's hard with kids because with every step they take, you swell with pride, but also grieve a part of them that no longer exists. The baby teeth come out. Bikes get ridden. Hands no longer need to be held. Parenting is a mixed bag of bitter-sweetness.

I long for those babies moments during times when I'm alone. I sit in my car in the rain, as I'm doing right now, listening to the drops hit the windshield and remembering what it was like to have all three of them right behind me when I turned around. They would have splashed in the puddles on the way in the door, but now they're in school, without me, and I'm sitting here with empty carseats. Bittersweet.

Cora and Phoenix sleeping in their carseats.
I'm dragging my feet, but slowly learning that grieving the loss of yesterday is only made better by replacing those thoughts with new, positive goals and memories. Daddy daughter dances and new friends. New interests and talents. Overhearing my 9 year old on the phone with her new best friend, which I get particularly tickled about. Slumber party invites and talks of school crushes, giggling and nail painting-- the things I did when I was young-- that's what they get to experience now.

It's also pretty great that us parents get to experience childhood again, but get to do it with experience, wisdom and love. I watch my kids play with the toys I played with as a child, tackle challenges with peers, learn how to put on makeup and do their hair, and how to develop relationships with people. I have answers this time and I get to help them through all this. It's like having your very own Cyrano de Bergerac. A mom version. That snoops on your phone calls and writes all the things you say on post-its with little hearts to save for later. And of course all those new post-its are gonna need a box.

Now I just have to find some tunes to listen to for this box of memories we're building, so I can roll around in all these new ones when I'm finished with the baby boxes. If they keep getting bigger, I figure I'll have enough to last me from when they move out until I'm 80. Our neighbors in 2052 are going to hear "Bad Blood" and papers crinkling. Hoarding-schmording.

No comments:

Post a Comment