Saturday, February 11, 2006

For Granted

Tonight, as almost every night, I danced my little girl to sleep. Just held her and swayed to a bunch of music not at all appropriate for an 8-9 month old child while my wife worked on the computer in the other room. For two hours, I cradled her in my arms with her precious head lying against my shoulder. It was good.

Before that, I had played with her on a blanket in our living room. Her toys, wooden spoons, plastic Uncle Sam hat, and pillow lay around her, and she was all smiles. We used the spoons to drum on the plastic hat. I'd shake her toys, she'd grab them, and immediately they went to mouth. She'd lean over and sprawl all over me until she fought her way to a standing position and then she'd fall all over me again and giggle.

Every once in a while, my youngest boy would take a break from watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and come join us (my other boy's strep recurred, so he's back in bed). He'd frolick around and revel with us for a couple of about five minute spans and then return to watching Johnny Depp. My girl and I would go back to our own business.

She's pushing herself up and is sooooo close to crawling, but she hasn't quite figured it out, even with my learned teaching from parenting her two predecessors. Which is more than okay. Once they're moving, trouble's on its way. But she's wanting to crawl, and I'm enjoing watching her work up to it.

Really, I'm enjoying everything. And trying extremely hard to let it all crystallize permanently in my brain. Or soak into me and let my mind be a sponge that never gets squeezed. Because you know what? I'm going to forget it. Not all of it but close enough.

We taped a lot with my boys as babies, but even with the footage, which we rarely if ever watch, I can hardly remember doing what I'm watching or seeing them like they are in the video. My wife is big on taking pictures, and those help the memory some, but now when I look at the pics of my oldest when he was 3 or 2 or younger, it's not like I can recall those days from merely looking at a photograph. Some memories resonate, but not close to enough.

I wish I knew of a way to burn these days in my mind. Not so that I can wish for them again sometime later down the road, but more to remember how special they were. And they are special. Watching her work to pick up a cheerio, to hone those motor skills. Jowls that I can't keep myself from kissing. Our tickle battles. All the baby smiles that melt my heart. Her struggle to crawl and to stand. Dancing with her atop my head until she laughs so hard I think she's going to spit up. All these tender moments that flash by and fade in the mind's eye. And I'll lose them.

Fortunately, every stage of this growing up thing is a great stage, and what I lose at one age is replaced by other special moments just as heart-rending at another. But whatever I have or have not done to keep the memories ever-present, it hasn't been enough. I didn't do enough, and I know I'm not doing enough. I'm going to lose most of them. And I regret it.

I'll do my best to remember what I can. In the end, that's going to have to satisfy me. That, and loving those three kids with every ounce of me I know how to use until I'm dead. Maybe then, God'll grant my wish of playing me a rewind. Maybe not, but I think I'll ask.

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[Chances are, once I see Him, all this stuff I worry over's gonna fade away, so I won't really be asking anything of the like, but while I'm here, it's hard not to think this way.]


Harry said...

I feel your pain. My girls are 12 and 13 and I struggle for those memories too. But I think you got it right about every stage creating memories that replace those lost from the previous stages. This must be by design. I know when I reach the point of wanting to put my 13 year old in the classifieds with the disclaimer “as is, needs lots of work, no guarantees”, I reach back in the files and see her sitting in my lap feeding me pieces of an apple I have cut up for us to share. Other than pulling her out of the fire at a moment like that, I don’t know how much good those memories do me, or her, today. Every day brings me joy, a lot of days bring me discomfort, some days bring me pain, and a few days bring me disappointment. I need all the brain space available to deal with that kind of dynamic.

Rich said...

Appreciate your reflections, Harry.

I'm not sure how much good the memories do me, either, except that I feel like I'm missing a part of humanity by not being able to retain them better than I do. Additionally, I totally enjoy being locked in a moment with any of my kids and the specialness of that time -- and then when I've basically forgotten it a month later and can only touch upon stuff through either very faded memories or, more likely, because I have a third child now going through the stages that my first two went through, I feel like a pretty rotten human being. I think my wife remembers stuff way better than I do. I figure most people do.

But yeah, to try to remember everythng at the expense of losing the times we have now would be both futile and foolish.

Thanks again.