I’ve been thinking a lot about the moments that I don’t want to forget—moments with my children and other family members, especially my grandpa, who defies the odds at 102, but who won’t be able to forever. (He would give a disgusted grunt at my lack of faith, I know.)
Working from home is tricky—I have more work than work hours—which means that I’m often at my computer even when my children are home. I don’t “clock out” ever. I wake in the night thinking of writing or editing or teaching; yesterday I ended up getting up at 4 a.m. because I had an idea and I didn’t want to forget it. (I know; I could have written it down and gone back to sleep. Instead I got up and logged in.)
I know I’m missing precious moments with my family because I lack strict work/home boundaries. I also know that years from now I will wish I had spent less time at my computer.
Over the last weeks and months, I’ve been reading my students’ wonderful writing about moments with their children, and their scenes, full of rich detail and nuance, make me understand just how much I’ve forgotten, just how little I sometimes pay attention.
Zoë has fully embraced being three—she is defiant and stubborn, changes her clothes twelve times a day, says “I HATE you!” when she’s scolded. She wants to do everything herself, insists that Stella’s size 6 and 7 dresses fit her because, “I’m growing up!”
She is absolutely, unequivocally, three. And most of the time I love this fact. Because she’s also a snuggler. She gives tight, almost painful hugs. She says, “I love you!” and “You’re the best mommy in the world!” She lines up her babies and stuffed dogs and protects them from the “bad guys.”
Yesterday after we had visited my grandpa (our Thursday ritual), she was beside herself, screaming and crying, trying to wrestle free of her car seat restraints because she was “uncomptable!” (And I’m sure she was uncomfortable; she was wearing Stella’s fancy Christmas dress—black velvet on top, stiff white skirt with sparkles on the bottom—and it was all bunched up around her waist.) She wailed as we drove down the River Road. I knew she needed a nap, so I told her we’d go see if we could find some geese, which congregate on the flat plains along the Mississippi River, across from the University of Minnesota. She didn’t care, she said. She saw them yesterday, she said.
But by the time we had reached their gathering area, she was craning her neck, trying to catch sight of them. We found three. They were napping—“in the mud!” she exclaimed, thrilled that any creature would sleep in a muddy field. And the uncomfortable dress was forgotten. By the time we reached our house, she was sound asleep.
Often I read in the car while she sleeps because she doesn’t transfer well, but I had a desire to hold her sleeping body. D has been home on break this week, so he carried her in and passed her into my arms, and I held her there, like a huge baby, her legs draped across my body, her white patent leather “tap shoes” still on. And I stared down are her closed eyes, her chubby cheeks, her parted lips.
“Remember how many hours we spent with her like this?” I asked.
And I just sat there, feeling the weight of her in my lap. I leaned down and kissed her forehead, brushed an eyelash from her cheek. I took her in, my arm quickly growing tired.
I’m not sure if I “captured” that moment. Is that ever really possible? But I’ve written it down, and years from now—when she is a sassy tween—I can scroll through this blog and remember holding her, remember how heavy her thirty pounds felt in my arms that one day when she was three and I didn’t read or turn to my computer—when instead I just held my daughter.
What are the moments with your children that you don’t want to forget?