Tuesday, September 15, 2009

a morning in the life

Monday morning began the way it usually does:
  • I get up at 4 am, feed Anna
  • Sitting in a corner at Starbucks, working and drinking decaf by 5 am
  • Walk back home at 7:50 am
  • Kiss husband goodbye as he leaves for work, brace for three year old's full-on jump/dive into me
  • Three year old asks, "What do you want to do now, Mommy?"
  • I tell her she needs to eat breakfast, go potty, then we'll play til Anna wakes up
  • There's a bit of protest, but that's what we do, in that order
  • Anna wakes at 9 am. I feed her
  • We go to the park. I run 6 miles with the girls (figure that's about 60 pounds to push); I'm a glutton for punishment, that's all there is to it, really
  • Then we head over to the playground
On this particular morning, the playground is wet, which means Ava's shorts (and a little bit of her underwear) are wet, too. I take off her shorts before we get into the car to head home.

We're heading home when I remember that we need diapers. And sunscreen for vacation. Pete needs V8 juice. Fifty dollars, gone like that, in the amount of time it takes a traffic light to turn from green to yellow--about three seconds.

I decide I better get gas before I get anything else (there goes $3o more). With a full tank, we head to Target.

I get the girls out of the car. The parking lot, surprisingly, doesn't feel like the county fair on derby day. It's actually...calm. The sun is hot and bright and everything shiny is sucking it up and spitting it back out. We're squinting from all sides.

Ava's hand is in my hand, other hand is occupied with Anna's increasingly heavy carrier, and we three make our way across the pavement. We get to the automatic doors at Target when this little voice at my side says, "Mommy. It's okay that I'm in my underwear." Just like that--a statement, an affirmation, nothing remotely like a question.

"Well, look at you. You are in your underwear, aren't you?" Elmo and rainbows were everywhere.

We don't know what else to do except laugh, so that's exactly what we do. We laugh and laugh and laugh all the way back to the car, into her wet shorts, and back into Target. Again.

I should've just let the kid stay in her underpants for crying out loud. But this is what happens: I go into scare-tactic mode and imagine that every grown person in Target is some twisted pedophile who will find out where we live all on account that Sesame Street is currently advertised across my daughter's hiney.

So, I scold myself the entire time we're in Target for being so ridiculous. I forget the V8 juice but pick up body soap (which, it turns out, we don't need), tell Ava that, no, she cannot have another fishing pole, I don't care if it's Spiderman, that goes for chocolate milk, too, and don't you dare rip off the straw so that I have to buy it, and anyway, that does not mean you'll be able to drink it. I quickly reclaim my gentleness and gently remind her that we're going on vacation in a couple of weeks and if we always bought what we wanted, we probably wouldn't be able to afford a vacation and a whole lot of other things, like squishy bars or ice cream. This satisfies her and we check out.

Skip Skip Skip to my Lou, Skip Skip Skip to my Lou, Skip Skip Skip to my Lou all on a Monday mornin'.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

a memory

When Pete and I were planning our wedding, we contemplated a videographer. Well, I did. Prompted by a recent viewing of an old friends' wedding (one that I wasn't able to make) on DVD.

We had a photographer lined up, but didn't we need a videographer, too? Afterall, our children would want to watch it someday, wouldn't they? I came up with other reasons, too. Won't video catch things that I'll be sure to miss on such a busy day? And it'll capture other things that I don't ever want to forget! And then there's the thinking that you need something just because it's available, or because other people decided they needed it so you must need it to.

We were driving somewhere, Pete and I, as I agonized over the cost, the benefit, the logistics. He tolerated it for a while, but then very calmly and simply turned to me and said, "We don't need a videographer. Some things should be remembered exactly as you remember them when they happened. Some things are just better stored in our memory than on a disc."

In a second, I knew he was right. He was absolutely right. I did not want to remember that day through the lens of anything or anyone other than my own memory. And as for our children and what they'll miss because of it? Well, we have some fantastic photos--and every now and then, little love will crawl up onto my lap and ask me to tell her about the day we got married. So we look through the photos and I tell her my stories and then she tells me some of her own. I wonder what we both would have lost if I left it up to technology to tell the story of our wedding.

I was reminded of this whole experience yesterday when I took her to her first day of 3 year old preschool. I walked into the doors and there were all the moms, clicking away as their baby moved from center to center to touch and feel and smell everything that was new and
right-sized, and primary colored. Some were crying (screaming), some were laughing, some were quietly taking it all in. And there I was, mom in her blue jeans, infant in her arm, and her 3 year old by her side. No camera.

For a second I felt that grip of failure. It's my daughter's first day of preschool and I didn't bring a camera to capture it? What was I thinking? How did I not prepare for this?

Then, I remembered what Pete said to me, now six years ago. I caught my breath, I turned to my little one and I took in everything about her. How she smelled, where she stood, what she wore; how her eyes glanced from station to station but how she stood, so still, at my side. Five little fingers gripped tightly around mine. A bit of worry, a bit of excitement reflected in her big blue eyes.

I kissed the top of her head and she asked me not to go. I told her I'd be back, that I'd always be back and got her started on a puzzle. I watched her at that little table for a second and I'll never forget, ever, those moments. And if I'd had a camera, I might've captured the setting and the colors but I'd have missed every one of the details that mattered.