I used to keep a calendar where I made notes of all my kids' milestones, cute sayings, and challenges. Every six months, I would transfer the best of these into their baby books. As they got older, their milestones were less recognizable, but I still sat (and sit!) down twice a year to write a snapshot of where they are at at that moment. As I look back, there are many details I would remember no other way.
And yet, so much gets lost along the way. This weekend, a few sweet or hilarious moments stood out to me:
- On a walk, we crossed a bridge and started talking about the Billy Goats Gruff. "What I never got," said my crafty middle child. "was why the biggest Billy Goat Gruff didn't claim a fourth, bigger brother."
- My mall rat daughter spent five solid hours in the mall with a friend, the girl's mom and sister. (I escaped!) She bought two items with birthday money -- one at 40% off, both totally her style - and had a great time. Same daughter had a friend over on Friday afterschool and they cut out fleece to make knotted baby blankets, which they will sell in two weeks, raising money for a refugee family. I'm thrilled that they've adopted my plan, at their willingness to work hard for others, but I had to giggle at the following scene: The three of us - me, daughter and friend - cross-legged on the basement floor, sawing at fleece with semi-dull scissors, Adele belting it out in the background. Suddenly, apropos of nothing I could determine, Friend says, "Isn't gravy the best?" and daughter agreed, "I just love gravy." Sawing resumed.
There were more moments. I meant to capture one per child, give you some nice symmetry and a glimpse into the quiet sweet moments of life. But life got busy and two kids fell sick, and football playoffs happened and the dog needed to be walked again.
I'm reading a book I need to read these days. It's by a local author and it's called One Thousand Gifts. She writes beautifully and honestly and it's all centred around one epiphany in her life: the transformative power of gratitude, which is preceded by the discipline of noticing and awareness. Which is what I did with these great kids of mine, and what I've been consciously trying to do lately when I'm walking the dog.
The first day I made a point to do this I saw a leaf suspended in midair over a driveway. I'm pretty sure it had caught on a strand of spider web, but it was really cool. I wonder how long it withstood the wind. Yesterday I was walking the pup again and watched as the wind caught, just right, the three cloth ghosts that are standing as seasonal sentinels outside my neighbour's house -- they shivered like Scooby Doo ghosts in the wind, and then one swayed and righted itself. Perfect.
I can't tell you how easy it is in the midst of this life that is too busy for the likes of me to forget to pay attention, to focus instead on the next thing that needs to happen. I can tell you how taxing that posture is and how refreshing it is to pay attention, to find the still point of the turning world.