Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On Aging

January 17, 2007

On Aging

We cleaned out Belle's closet today. It was no easy feat, given that she tends to hide things as opposed to putting them away (????) and seems to be kin the the species "packratus". But, alas, there is a floor to her closet and we have found it!

Along with the floor, we also found a snapshot of the two of us on July 22, 2000, when she was less than 24 hours old. We were getting ready to leave the hospital. She was beautiful.....and so was I.

If I could look like that today....the way I looked less than one day post partum.....I would take it in a second. I was tan and blonde, my hair was shiny and long, I had the body of a woman who had birthed only two children.....oh, yes. And I was almost nine years younger than I am now.

Time takes its toll. I wouldn't have believed it unless I had seen it for myself. She took the picture down to the kitchen and placed magnets on its corners.....right beside the picture taken of us on New Year's Eve this past year, just seconds before midnight. The contrast was stunning, and not in a good way.

Nine years. I can see how my kids have changed. Joel was seven, a chubby, lumbering kid who had spilled ketchup on every shirt he owned and thought it would be cool to eat at McDonald's for every meal of one day. Joseph was two, having his tonsils taken out, diving off of the chair in the recovery room (BEFORE his surgery) and getting a huge rug burn on his forehead. I stayed the night with him and we slept in the chair together, me offering him popsicles and Motrin each time he stirred and whimpered in pain. Gabrielle was growing inside of me, promising to be the sweet little girl she has come to be now. Gavin and Caroline....we couldn't even imagine.

I can look back and see how the years have brought great changes to them and yet when I think of myself I can see only the negative change. Sure, Joel is now 6'5" playing varsity football for the IHSAA State Championship Team, Joseph has gone from sucking a binky to playing lacrosse and winning the "Battle of the Books", and Belle is a sweet, smart, little girl who rules the 3rd grade.......But I am somehow supposed to stay the same. I hate looking at those pictures and seeing the Kristi of yesterday. I want to be HER today....HER along with the wisdom I have acquired along the way. The funny thing is, I can't have both.

To be honest, I'm not sure which I would pick right now. So much has changed, so much water under the bridge, so to speak. I am a different person than I was nine years ago. Shoot, I was barely married, for heaven's sake! Reality hits hard, unfortunately, both physically and emotionally. I am a better person today, I think, but boy, I'd like to be that young again! And I'd like to be oblivious to the trials that young families face. I'd like to live in that place where everything seems wonderful and the biggest problem I have is getting Joseph to stay in the nursery while I work out at the YMCA in Irvington. I was clueless. But my hair was awesome.

So here's the deal. I will take the wonderful wisdom I have acquired through the years and I will protect it with all I have. I will heed the advice of Godly friends who have led me along the straight path. I will cherish the memories of my beautiful children and their growing over the past nine years. And I will look into the eyes in the picture of that young, new mother and try to remember the zest for life that she had, the longing to be the best mother possible for her children.

We gain much from experience and time, but we lose much as well. We forget to meet our husband at the door instead of just being there when he gets home. We sacrifice date night for movie night at the school so that our kindergartener will feel safe around the other kids. We consider a night away is one where no one comes to our room in the middle of the night with a bad dream, a wet bed, or a bloody nose. We make these sacrifices and do not even question their merit....and yet a few wrinkles, some gray hair, a few pounds we detest and deny.

I'm not trying to make excuses for the way I am now. As Joseph's preschool teacher once told me (advice I turn to again and again), "It's okay to UNDERSTAND the bahavior, but it's not okay to EXCUSE it". So, I can understand that life has begun to take it's toll on my body, my hair, my attitude, but that doesn't excuse letting it take it's toll on my heart and on my soul. Each day that I am blessed to wake up and see their beautiful faces (even if it is at 2am) I should rejoice and be thankful for every moment we have together. And I should also be grateful for every single wrinkle on my face because I have certainly earned them all.


January 30, 2009

It has been two weeks since I began writing this entry. I never finished it because....well, that just seems to be the way I roll right now. The ground is frozen, the air is frigid, the sky is gray, and I am stuck in the rut of, "I am miserable, but don't really care enough to do anything about it". I know it will pass. I have been here many winters before.

But I thought about this again at Caroline's birthday party last weekend. Eric saw the picture of Belle and me on the refrigerator and asked me when it was taken. He kept saying what a great picture it was, and again I was saddened that I am no longer that girl. It felt a little depressing until Gavin ran up to me crying about getting hurt while wrestling with the bigger kids at the party. I picked him up and sat him on the counter and talked about how if we want to play with the big boys we understand that there's a good chance we are going to get hurt from time to time. I gave him a hug and a drink of some of Grandma Irene's punch. He sat for a few seconds and then smiled up at me. "I love you, Mommy. Can I go now?" And then off to wrestle again. Eric watched the exchange and said, "And because of Mommy everything is right with the world again." To me that was a bigger compliment than anything he could have said about my picture at any age.

Posted by KC at 9:58pm

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