I keep seeing my life—well at least the last eighteen to twenty years of it—flash before my eyes.
It’s probably because my nest is emptying next week, as my youngest heads off to college. Everywhere I go, sweet memories creep into my peripheral vision, denying me focus. Part of me is sad that they’re just memories, that times have changed and the kids are grown. Part of me is grateful for their presence, however ephemeral. I like playing the old filmstrips.
Passing a soccer field reminds me of all the practices and games. As I ride my bike through a park, I remember countless days on the hiking trails, looking at bugs, running from bees, and ending up on the play structures. I remember watching my kids and their playmates swing and slide while talking to the other moms. Sure, there were discussions about what SPF sunscreen to use and the debatable virtues of fluoride treatments, but most were about the things that matter. Teaching our kids to find their passion. Keeping friendships despite geographical separation. Evolution versus creation. Those things.
Going through the storage room, the boxes way up high and to the back catch my eyes. Huge containers of Lego’s and wooden train sets (that I probably should have given away) comfort me. I may not remember each and every hour of building and reconfiguring, but I know I was there, in the floor, bonding with them.
The sight of my father’s H-0 train sets does bring a pang of regret. Since they couldn’t have a relationship with their grandpa, I wanted to teach them his passion. There was great interest in setting the train up but they quickly bored of running it on the tracks. My hubby, who always knows the right thing to say, just shakes his head. You did what you could. You can’t force a kid to pick up a hobby. It resonates or it doesn’t.
A friend once told me that watching a child become independent is like watching a rose go from a small bud to a glorious open bloom. I was too embarrassed to tell her I much prefer the buds. I love the promise of potential. The bloom quickly fades; its petals start to brown. To me it’s the embodiment of all things temporary.
I know such ruminations aren’t productive. None of us can move forward with one foot stamped firmly in the past.
So I resolve.
I’ll look backward with gratitude. I’ll look forward with hope.
But, you’ll excuse me if I cry a little before I start the hoping part.