Closing the Book and Starting a New One

The trip down memory lane was prompted by my daughter’s desire to sort through the many boxes that she’d stashed on the shelves in the storage room. We were preparing for a future rummage sale, and I had suggested that she might find a lot of things to sell that she no longer wanted or needed. It was also my desire to free up some of the shelves that she had been dominating with her incessant need to “keep” things. Abigail is twenty-five and lives in small apartment, so doesn’t have room to store much.
We pulled the opaque plastic rectangular storage container from the top shelf that through the sides gave a hint of pink and peach colored contents. As the lid was lifted, Abigail and I both gave out a squeal of delight to see her old friends. There was Tigger and Puffalump, her Cabbage Patch doll and her black Barbie and Ken dressed in their metallic outfits. A satin pink dress peaked out from under the pile, and I asked excitedly, “Oh, is this the My Child doll?” But as I gave it a tug, it only revealed the Precious Moments doll. Abby went on to inform me that the Precious Moments doll wasn’t porcelain (as I had thought), and she was certain of it’s composition, because a visiting child had once drawn on Precious Moment’s skin, and Abby had painstakingly scrubbed every bit of ink off that sturdy plastic that only looked like porcelain.
“Well, where’s My Child?” I asked, almost feeling desperate.
“Here she is,” Abigail cooed softly, and gently pulled the dark-haired soft, fuzzy-skinned doll from the bottom of the box.
Abigail and I each reached out and caressed the doll’s hair and face. The transportation back in time took us to the living room of our apartment in Germany. We had lived there while my ex-husband was in the Air Force.
“Remember your pink satin dress that you wore for your birthday?” I asked.
“Yeah, that was my fifth birthday,” Abby responded, as she held the doll and gazed down upon the cherished memories contained within the gift that I had special ordered for her and spent nights sewing new clothes for.
My mind went back to that time and the birthday party I had held for my little princess. And she had looked just like a princess in her pink and white satin dress with her white tights, and shiny, white Mary Janes and her dark hair pulled back in with a pink satin bow. I found my head shaking in disbelief, as I squatted down and just stared into the plastic box filled with time gone by.
How could it have been so long ago that it almost felt like it had all happened to someone else? Where could the time have gone that I could no longer feel every single moment in the body that had experienced it all?
“You know,” I stated out loud, “If there was just one thing that I would want to tell all the young mothers of the world, it would be to feel every moment. Be present with your children, because the time you have with them is really so short.” I paused, then after considering my sentiments, continued, “But the problem is that most people don’t realize they’re not feeling when they aren’t. They wouldn’t even know what I was talking about.”
My young daughter, and her friend that had been an audience to our trip down memory lane, both nodded in agreement, but I wondered if anyone in their youth could realize what I was talking about or feeling. Having never experienced it, could they feel the depth of it all?
I had spent a lot of my young motherhood feeling trapped and without choice. I was too young to have children, for sure, and I sometimes resented the constant responsibility. I lived with an inherent sense of never being appreciated, because I didn’t appreciate myself and had a desperate need to be perfect, which always ended in frustration. I was lonely for adult interaction and with the limited income that always accompanied me, my possibilities were limited. In the end, I have regretted the self-involvement and lack of consciousness that led me to miss many of the moments.
My children and I have great relationships. We grew up together, it seems. And I am blessed that through the trials and tribulations, I found the way to live more consciously and be more present. Finally, I am able see the full glass that I held all those years, overflowing with love and possibility, but at times, could only see the mess it was making. In a perfect world, it would seem that I would have just slurped it up and laughed as the bubbles popped in my nose.
Truly, though, I think that my longing now is not for the moments that I missed, but for those that I did not. Life is full of ups and downs, negatives and positives, and without the tug and the pull, the back and the forth, one would only stand still. But my kids and I, we grew together, and closer together through it all. And there is a part of me that would love to feel it all again.
That box of cherished memorabilia held a physical display of the love that my children and I grew together. It’s not over; it’s just different. The time is not lost, for it made us who we are today. And from here, we are making more treasured memories that someday will be looked back upon.
Life is like that, an escapade of sorts. And although I thought that this life of mine was just one story, I have found that it is really like several books, each with many chapters. Some painful, some fleeting, some so joyful that one may choose to read each page slowly and carefully and maybe read it once more, just to experience it again.
With this new perspective, I think I’m ready to set this book of motherhood, with its dog-eared pages, down now, and pick up the next book in this series. And since I am the writer and the reader of these books, I think I’d better get started. I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot to write. My best book yet!

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