Things I Won’t Remember

“A Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.”
– Kevin Arnold, The Wonder Years

So often there are moments I say “I need to write this down.”  Moments I know I will never get right if I try to recall it years from now, or even next week.  Then the moment quickly zooms by and if I do not grab a pen, a computer or my phone to jot it down, it’s gone, life keeps going and I don’t remember what I needed to remember.

Every night as I lay in bed in the dark, before the breathing slows, eyes shut tight and I drift off to sleep, the events of the day cycle through my mind.  I tend to narrate every detail of those special moments to my husband.  As I continue to wake him from those first seconds of sleep, he’ll sometimes ask me “Why do you choose now to fill me in?”   I think it’s because it’s quiet and the reel of brain-film can really only play back in the dark quiet of night.  There are not times during the day that would allow me to focus enough to recall small details or little actions. Each day carries it’s own share of crazy.  This includes me hurrying Kyle to change into his Karate gee in the car before class because we are running late, making dinner and trying to ignore the fact that Charlie is running around the house with his dish shouting that he wants a taco more than anything for dinner and will not eat anything else.   During dinner, there are exciting stories of playing camouflage in the playground and a description of a silly song we heard on the way to school that morning – all while we play the questions game.   Our night-time-routine, still in the thick of it, takes every ounce of patience and energy we have to slow down the tempo and stop the boys from practically scaling the walls and ceiling.   I cannot recall the right name of the child standing right in front of me, “Chh…Brr…KYLE, Please brush your teeth now.” – never mind the funny detail of events from the day.  I often wish I could record those conversations or report-outs in the late hours before I go to sleep.  Maybe I should start doing that and transcribe them the next day.  Sure, I’ll put that on my to-do list.

So I continue to write a nightly (sometimes morning) journal of each day; hoping I am capturing every witty, funny, crazy, happy detail from these glorious times with my little guys.  I am so afraid of forgetting.  I am scared of not having these times to look back on because I was so frazzled and hurried that I blurred through them and therefore my memory will surely fail me when I try to recall.

What will I remember?  Kyle telling me he was so happy about his day yesterday that he started to cry?  Will I remember how smart and observant Charlie is; how he can remember details of streets, people, places and things we did even if was when he was only two years old?  Will I remember how Kyle always tells me “Charlie has a good memory, ask him!”   Will I remember playing the match game, Uno and Candy Land with them?  Will I remember the funny little one-liners Charlie says out-of-the-blue or the logical conclusions that Kyle comes up with in any given situation?  Even as I write this now, there things I am already forgetting that I really hoped I would remember when I began to write.

I try to record their favorite things every so often; their favorite movies, favorite toys and favorite songs for that time period.  I have their growth charts engraved in each of their closets.   I take pictures of their shoes, their artwork and their bedrooms.  I videotape simple moments and fun times and sometimes even when they are sleeping.

I try my best to make moments special that are out of their comfort zone or routine.  I bought them alarm clocks this week to help get them out of bed on their own.  Obviously, that would mostly assist Brendan and I, but it was a big moment for the boys as well.  They were proud and felt grown-up to have their very own alarm clock.  They woke up early this morning just to hear it go off.  I guess it’s working.

Last night, Charlie informed me that he wants an iPod.  When I was four years old, I got a life-sized doll.  My first Walkman was when I was in high school.  He wants an iPod.  “Why?”  I asked.   “So I can put all of my music on it, I like so many different songs and you have to keep making me CDs.”  He actually made a good point.

We heard a funny song by Alvin and the Chipmunks on the way to school the other morning.  As we pulled up to the school, Kyle asked, “Are all of the windows closed?”  I said “Yes, why?”  “Just wondering.”  He said.  “You don’t want anyone to hear the song we are listening to?”  “No.  I don’t.”  He said with a serious face, half smile.  I knew then it was happening; life was corrupting him already.  I didn’t realize that the kid inside him would start to fade so soon.  I will try my best to encourage the child that he still is and should embrace, but respect his choice to be “cool.”

I wonder if I’ll remember the minute details that I love so much right now.  Will I remember how Kyle never wants covers when he goes to bed, only wants to sleep in his boxers and t-shirt because he claims he’s too hot, but when I tuck him in before I go to sleep each night, he is bundled up to his chin with the comforter and blankets.  Will I remember how difficult it is to get Charlie into bed, stay in bed and actually fall asleep?  I think that part will be hard to forget.  But will I remember hearing the sweet sound of his first deep breath on the monitor which indicates to me that he is finally asleep?

Will I remember the feeling of Kyle’s small, soft hand in mine as we walk?  Will I remember the wet kisses on my cheek that Charlie always likes to sneak?  Will I remember the sound of their whispers, their unique facial expressions, the smell of their morning breath when they jump in our bed in the early morning hours on a Saturday?  Will I remember the funny games they make up, songs they create and rituals they invent?

I hope I am able to continue to capture all of this and hold on to it all forever.    The letting go is healthy too and moving into new phases of their lives is exciting and just as special.  So I will remember what I can, write so I can breathe and continue to video and snap tons of pictures.  Because I am honored to be the Mother of these two awesome children and this I will always remember.

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A Run-In With Future-Me…

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last week, I had a moment of “stunment” (my own word).  I was stopped in my tracks by a true moment of reality, an every day moment happening right in front of my own eyes.  It was in that moment that I also felt I was my future-self looking back at this little scrap of time.  I was horrified by future-me with feelings of guilt, regret and sadness.  I shook it off and saw my little six-year-old boy sitting there in front of me innocently eating a snack and playing with a Lego set.  He kept calling me “Mommy!  You know what?”  “Mommy!  Look at this!”  And then little Charlie came running in “Mommy!  Look at this guy I set up this way!  Isn’t that silly?”  “Mommy!  Guess who THIS is!”  The present me was feeling frustrated with the lack of time I had left to get dinner ready and the kitchen cleaned up.  It was the moment I answered back “WHAT!?” to one of the Mommy-requests for attention that I found myself frozen with two versions of myself inside my brain.  Millions of me’s chanting inside myself “You should have done this….  You should have done that…..  Why didn’t you….”  So as I swallowed hard on the huge lump in my throat, I dropped everything and sat at the little play table next to my guys.  I jumped into their world of imagination as best I could and the future-me and all those voices faded away.

I have to admit, I am scared to death of the older version of myself.  I truly want to impress her.  I want her to realize just how much I am trying to be the best Mother I can.  No sooner did I think I was free of that future vision, that she made another appearance a day or two later.

I think about the future and it makes me think about everything in a new light.  The way I walk, the way I talk, the way I dress, even the music I listen to today will be different in just a few years.   When I was younger, ten years of time did not make that much of a difference in my mind.  I thought I’d always be the same.  I figured my life might shift a little bit, but nothing drastic.  I had no idea that ten years would be such a switch of character, strength and emotional craziness.  Jobs changed, music and styles changed, I got married and most of all, my confidence changed.  As I became more and more of an adult, I began to believe I had it all figured it out…until I had kids.  That is when I realized that just when I might think I have it all figured out…well, first of all, I really don’t and second of all, in just a click of the minute hand, the wheels of life can move me in a completely different direction.

And so here I am faced with this future-ten-years-from-now-me looking on in disbelief at my constant disappointment in myself.  Ten years has given me the vision to see that trying to be the best Mom and being present in the moment is the truly a wonderful gift to give to my children.  This woman ten years older, mother of 14 and 16 year old boys is somehow not looking down on me, but proud of how hard I have worked to raise these little guys with manners and knowledge about life and people.

I step outside of reality for a minute or two and turn to that future me and pose some questions.  “Has ten years really changed you?”  “Where did you find the strength to get through the power struggles with a four year old?”  “What parenting strategies worked best?”  “Is it harder to parent Charlie and Kyle now that they are teenagers?”  “Do they respect you?”  “Do they still want to be with you and cuddle with you?”  Unfortunately, no direct answers to my questions came back.  Maybe I am a politician in the future, I don’t know.  But, I was only rewarded with more questions for me to ponder.  “Why are you so hard on yourself?”  “Why do you need to be a PERFECT parent?  Is there such a thing?  Charlie and Kyle need to see that you are human too.”  “Why do you stress about things out of your control?”

I sit alone at a little black desk in my family room and listen to the quiet of the house.  I realize I am in the present.  I am not haunted by my future expectations, future hopes, future scary thoughts or this ME that is ten years older wishing I had this very time back.  I am here.  I am now.  Living in the present really is a gift that I can give to my children and to myself.

Through the struggles, the frustration and disappointment in myself, I know I can be a good Mom by being ME and giving my kids all that I have and know right now.  I can giggle when I find Star Wars toys in the hamper, a Lego ship balanced and hung oh so carefully on the hinge of the cellar door and finding that it is one of the boy’s stuffed animals forming that lump under the blanket as I try to make my bed.  Instead of stressing about the time and a June Cleaver dinner, I can simply enjoy whatever it is I put on the table while realizing my children may have other thoughts.  Letting go of the negotiating and letting them decide is something I am working on.  We may then get to a place where the focus is not on what’s for dinner, but soaking in the joy of our dinner time discussions and games we play every night at the table like “100 questions” and Uno.

Excitement about pictures that were drawn and colored, new math that was learned and art projects created will only last a little while longer.  Coloring eggs, making jello and running laps around the house will not be activities of great fun for my boys in a few years.  So thanks for the visit future-me and the kick in the pants.  I will cherish this time of self-reflection.  For now, I am off to pick up my kids at school and then it’s outside for playtime!

And I challenge all of you who might be reading this, what would you learn if you met your future-self?

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Back to Basics

The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.
– Maya Angelou

There were so many influences in my life telling me, driving me, persuading me to follow my dream of writing, publishing, editing, creating….  As I drifted through each moment of every day, I felt the universe pulling me in the direction of a path I could literally only dream about.  I lost a job that was all I really felt comfortable with, I met different people that happen to be within the industry of communications and publishing.  I was thrust out into the world of the unknown and uncomfortable.  It was the perfect situation in the eyes of an opportunist.   “How could I go against the universe?” I thought to myself many times.

I sat down with my trusty Macbook Pro and began to create a website.  I figured it didn’t matter what kind of website as I was in creation mode, just as long as I got something out there.  I disappeared from other responsibilities to my family and myself while in this construction of new beginnings.  I was ok with that in some respects as I knew it was for “the greater good” of my future.  As I created and tweaked and re-tweaked, I felt unsatisfied and frustrated.  I paid for additional SEO (search engine optimization) in order to drive traffic into my site.  I had others look at the site and give me feedback.  I made adjustments and I tried to write.  At the end of six weeks, I was overcome with a feeling of suffocation, as if I was being muffled, stifled.  I was unable to just write freely without the worry and my perfectionistic (my word) approach to design the perfect website; and for who?  No one had even inquired about anything on my site.  I changed site editors a couple of times and redesigned.  Stifled still.

As more time went by, I was offered a new position within the same company and the fear came creeping up anyway in this company that I thought I knew so well.   I was now in a role where tasks that were once familiar were very foreign to me.  I am faced with daily challenges of clinical and medical languages and terminology.  I am coaching managers on topics that I am now just learning about myself.  Within this face of change and uncertainty, I am still able to be creative on a new level that I had not been before.

And so, it was within the quiet minutes of my commute home the other day that I realized my need to go back to basics; go back to the real core of who I am.  I am not a sales person.  I am not an extravert nor an expert in persuasive behaviors.  I am a writer, a creator and just someone who wants to enjoy her work.  I went back to the drawing board that day, readjusted my site editor again and put my “services” on a secondary page.  Now, I am feeling free to write and be me.  If you visit, then great.  If I can help you in any way, even if just for a small chuckle in your busy day, then I am happy.  Please let me know what you think.  I’d love to hear from you!

As always, thanks for reading.  :)

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Testing the Waters

“If you build it, they will come.”  – Field of Dreams

I am living in the ever so constant mindset of TEST.  How many times do I think to myself or say to my children “don’t test me.”  That is what children do, they test.  They act and look and wait to see what happens.  But in the grown-up world, don’t we all do the same thing, just not as juvenile?

We were sitting behind two litte boys and their mother the other day in church.  One boy was older; maybe around 9 or 10 years old.  The other boy was probably around Charlie’s age; 4.  The four-year-old tested his mother at every turn.  He would crawl and climb in the pew, jump on the kneeler, growl at the woman sitting in the pew behind him. She disciplined him here and there, but for the most part, she just gave him “the look.”  He would back down…for a minute or two and then go right back at it.  A few times, I saw the deviousness in his eyes as he put his foot up on the pew and his mother wooshed it down quickly with her hand.  He’d look up at her with a grin and do it again….slowly…TAP, his foot touched the pew.  Back and forth he did this until he finally got bored and moved on to singing during the homily.  He was obviously testing his mother and looking for attention.  As the “woman sitting in the pew behind him” I just kept my focus on the Mass and tried not to notice the cuteness of the whole thing.  Before I had kids of my own, I could never understand why other Mothers (even my own) did not smile at the little ones who turned around during mass.  I used to wonder how they could not be at least a little entertained.  Now I know to not fuel that fire as they are only testing to see how much attention they can get.

I have been doing some testing of my own.  New ideas, new strategies for parenting Kyle and Charlie.  I know I have really good kids.  For the most part, they are well-behaved, mild mannered and polite.  But in those (many) moments when I am feeling out of control and not sure of how to discipline certain behaviors, I go after different approaches for specific stretches of time.  Some work, some fail and I refine and tweak as we go.  Maybe all this is doing is getting them more accustomed to change, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

I am also testing things like my new website (www.breadcrumbdiaries.com).  I have changed it quite a few times since the “big launch” in February.  I try new things, new designs, new software and new blogging sites.  I am trying to find my niche.  I realize that I am not actively going after new business in a manner that will suddenly draw people in knocking down my door, but it’s out there now.  As I tweak, as I redesign, it’s out there.  I’m out there.  That is step one.  Step two?  Not sure where or when this will occur.  But I am happy in my creativeness and willingness to try and test the waters….as long as it’s not in church.

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