I was looking through the slide show and I was bowled over a couple of things. First, by how time flies. Second, by how weirdly painful it is to look at old pictures of kids that you love -- your own kid or any kid you have loved. When you see photos of them, it's like the little person in the photo is gone. For instance, when I see the three-year old Jack, I get a little heartache for him. Even though I see the eight-year old Jack every day and love him an infinite amount, I miss the three-year old, four-year old, five year-old and six year-old Jack. Why not the seven year-old Jack? Because seven was a, well...let's just say seven was challenging for this mother.
In the past, I've asked my own mother to recall certain things about my early years. I used to be surprised at what she couldn't remember. I thought, how could you not remember every single thing about your kid? That was before I had kids of my own. Now, I get it. The childhood of your kids goes by so fast and you are so immersed in it that it is almost impossible to keep it, to hold it close in memory. It's sad, but there is a nice aspect of it; you tend to forget the hard stuff much more than the good. That's been my experience, anyway.
After I married Chris, one of the girls -- I won't mention her name in case it is Meg-- gave me a big run for my money. The other one had given me that run right before I married her dad. I was prompted by my initially rocky experience as a step-mother to call my own mother and tell her how sorry I was that I had given her a hard time when I was a kid and how I was especially sorry that I ever talked back to her. (Loyal readers, I really was awful to my mother growing up. I am not exaggerating. I was very mouthy and defiant. I know, it's hard to believe that about the shrinking violet that is your BloomingtonGirl, but you're going to have to trust me on this.)
Do you know what my mother said to me with completely sincerity? "Oh Joni! You never gave me any trouble." At the time, I thought she was just being nice. But, as time has passed, I understand from my own experience that you honestly forget the tough times with your kids. Okay , maybe you don't forget them completely, but time really softens them in a BIG way.
When I look back on those first few years after Kate and Meg's mom passed away and Jack was born (those two events within two months of each other), I remember how much we laughed and I remember the feeling of a happy home. I think that the girls remember it that way, too.
I know though, that time was enormously difficult for all of us. Chris, Kate, Meg and I have sometimes remarked how we can't believe that each of us came through it all not only intact, but thriving. But, whenever we talk about that time, we remember it happily and with great humor.
It's a blessing, this softening of memory. Sort of like good lighting for your life.
Below are some of those well lit moments. (That's Kate's now husband Phil in the pumpkin patch, by the way...). The last photo of Kate and me might be one of my favorites of all time. We were at an event connected with her high school graduation and the picture was taken while someone - I cannot for the life of me remember who - was saying something completely ridiculous to us - and I cannot remember what. Kate and I were doing everything we could not to burst out laughing at this person and the camera catches that wonderfully. We both remember the moment but none of the specifics.
Off to bed to read and think about my next play.