I was holding my daughter’s hand as we walked down the stairs. I asked her to come with me downstairs to see if we could help clean up a bit. She looked up at me, “Are you afraid to go by yourself?” “I like your company,” I replied, staying honest. So she accompanied me down the stairs, her tiny hand in mine, her Cinderella dress flowing below her fairy wings.
I remembered one night when I was her age, maybe even 5? When I lay in my bed talking to my Mom. “Mom, what happens if you die first,” I asked her. She held my hand, not unlike I was holding my own daughters, “I’d go to heaven and wait for you.” “How will I know where to find you in Heaven?” I was worried because Heaven always seemed so.. big. “I’ll be sitting on a big rock waiting for you.” I smiled, not questioning which rock, how I’ll know where, or why there are large rocks in Heaven. This just made complete sense to me.
My beliefs have changed over the years. I no longer think of Heaven as a physical place with rocks and water streams. But I can still feel the comfort I had in my heart that night my Mom said she’d wait for me on the rock. The comfort of knowing I was loved beyond this time, my lifetime. The same love and comfort I felt as I held my daughter’s hand walking down the stairs.
She helps me not be afraid, more than she realizes.
*My daugher, 3 years old, in my own Heaven: Bellingham, WA. July, 2008.
It was snowing out as was becoming the norm for our early Seattle December. My parents’ flight was delayed giving us two additional days to prepare for the upcoming Christmas festivities. The mister and I retreated to various activities we never seem to have time for any more with work, the two young children, and our increasing need for sleep. I swear, as we age, we sleep more. Like bears. Also, we gain weight more in the winter like bears so there may be something to this theory.
So we took the additional 48 hours to clean, bake, wrap presents and play games on the phone, or in my case, search for long lost pictures of my childhood. I was searching for one in particular, the picture of me at one, or was it two?, drinking a beer. I’m sure we all have this picture, don’t we? The one where your family thinks it’s hilarious that the baby has a beer. Maybe it’s just my family. At any rate, I was sure I had it around somewhere in the garage with the other old photos in an old old trunk.
I found the trunk but not the photo. As it turns out, there, instead, sat two of my Grandmother’s memoires. She recorded her life including family tree information and birth dates, cities, and spouse information. She filled two large three-ring binders before her death. I couldn’t remember, when I ran my hand over the first binder, which day she passed away. Was it today? Tomorrow? My mind stubbornly refused to remember details and instead focused on the small piece of my Grandmother I was holding.
I opened the first book.
It was the first time I’d truly looked at the pages without my eyes clouding in tears. I’d never had the strength, in the five years since her death, to actually open a manuscript. I was amazed to find pages filled with photocopied pictures of each of our family members. Her wedding photo. My graduation photo. My parents in Germany when my dad was in the army. I glossed over each chapter looking, selfishly, for my own. I found it entitled “Leslie’s Story.” I quickly began to read.
She wrote this chapter during my years at Western Washington as an undergrad. She wrote about my young life, about my gymnastics and my dance. She wrote about my boyfriend in High School. I giggled thinking of her watching us grow in to adults and marry 10 years later. I read through the paragraphs as she said wonderful things about my character. I made it nearly to the end before my eyes began to mist. At the last paragraph, the very last sentence, she wrote a special note, it seemed, right to my thirty-three year old self. It was so simple, so fun, so small. Such a tiny sentence to make a grown woman cry, but as I read those three words, I fell to bits picturing my Grandma saying it to me. “You go girl.”
It is just so her.
And so I realized writing is not something I do because I gain fame, or readership, or money. After nearly five years of blogging I’ve had none of these things. I do, however, find little pieces of myself in the archives, tiny bits of who I am that bleed out in the words. I found myself devouring my Grandmother’s writing and I realized this, this right here, is my own memoir. Perhaps one day my daughter will read it. What will she find? We’ve asked this question, I know, we’ve all reflected on this topic. But it’s time for me, personally, to start realizing why I am this way and where I came from. History is such a powerful tool in bettering our own selves. I watch my four year old daughter and see flashes of my childhood. It’s not so different, hers and mine, although thirty years of mistakes, inflation, presidential decisions, and politics seperate our experiences. I can’t help but constantly reflect on my own memories as a young girl, as a teenager, wondering what her memories will be.
I don’t want to forget to become a woman of class, honor and grace. Of forgiveness and spunk. Of love and passion. I don’t want to spend my days watching my children grow and not capturing the memories they invoke and those we make new.
So here it is: A memoir. For my grandmother. For my daughter. For my sister and my mother.
But mostly: For me.
Everyone ready for The Big Storm? Arctic Blast 2008! Sheer Hell-frozen-over! RUNNNNNNnnnnNNNN.
According to the news, this is going to be The Biggest Storm Ever In Our .. Lives… Muhahaha.
Until next year, at least.
So everyone in the Pacific Northwest is at Safeway and Fred Meyer getting the essentials. The guy behind us in line had three bags of Cheetos and beer. We had four cases of pop, some red wine, cheese and beer. The lady in front of us? You got it: Beer. (In her defense, she was the only person in line buying batteries, too, so there’s that. We’ll all hunt her down and offer her beer in exchange for voltage later.)
It’s been icy, frozen and brilliantly fun for days. Work has been nearly impossible as children are underfoot with cabin fever and The Need for sledding.
So sledding we did.
Today we braved the wintry weather and headed to The Mall of All Mother Effing Malls. AKA: “Where did all you people that couldn’t get to work come from but were perfectly capable of driving in two feet of snow to THE MALL?”
We had good reason, though. We needed to get the picture, classic 101 Santa picture of 2008. And we did: Behold!
God I love Christmas.
**P.S. Have you registered for Blissdom Yet? WHAT?! OMG. Like you have not? What the hell, people? Did you know I was going to be there? What’s that? Oh, right, you did because I keep telling you every four-point-three days. Yea, well, um, I’m sorta excited. I’m excited to be with these people. And with her. And her. And her. And OMG. I promise I’ll lick you. **
** I do that. ***
** Did I mention I’m just now catching up on blogging? Whew. Sorry. I promise to not write so much later. **
** Buhahahah. I lie. **
**The end ***
I stood there, very early this morning holding my sleeping son.
His head heavy on my shoulder.
His breath on my neck.
His lips brushing my hair.
I realized we are not born Mothers. Our children make us in to them.
Something that seemed so obvious at 3AM today, took me over four years to fully understand.
Sometimes it’s the tiny moments that change us the most.
What does one do when one can’t figure out what to do?
Ask the Interwebz, of course!
I’m stuck finding a holiday photo for our Christmas card. What’s that? Yes, I’m aware I have less than a week. Thank you.
So this morning my Best Friend comments on this photo that it should be our holiday card.
But, um, what do I say? I mean, what does one follow this classic photo up with?
Today, Internetz, I put you in charge of my holiday card. For the love of all that is holy, PLEASE tell me what to say. Otherwise I’ll say something completely stupid like, “Hope your holiday is better than this face!”
You can do better.
If you ever, say, challenge your spouse to a “let’s see if we can have sex before the oven timer goes off,” be sure you tell people it was a pot-roast, not a batch of cookies.
:: cough ::
I remember that moment in detail: the door to my room cracked when it wasn’t just hours before as I fell asleep; the laughter of my parents following me out to the living room; my dad saying something about “Santa” placing those presents under the tree as he set up the bunk bed for the dolls I asked Santa for; and the sudden cold realization that Keith from Mrs. Getchie’s third grade class was right: There was no Santa.
I know times have changed. I realize children mature earlier and deal with stresses much much earlier than we did. I realize each generation is shocked with reality as it creeps in to children entirely too early. But it seems to me, a four year old, shouldn’t question Santa Clause.
At four, my daughter is just now understanding the magic. She’s excited for the first time in your short little life that some man will slide down the chimney and set up presents. She’s asking for a “Baby Set Up.” A what? A “Baby Set Up. You know, where you put all the doll stuff out? And it’s set up? And then you play?”
Right. Duh. Santa will TOTALLY understand that.
So this year we’ve allowed ourselves the joy of getting caught up in their world. We ooohhh and ahhhh at every light. We point out Santa and yell “Merry Christmas!” We write him letters and draw the Baby Set Up.
We never question why.
A friend of ours, with a daughter only 9 months older than LB is already too suspicious. She wants to know HOW it’s possible. She wants to know WHY. She can’t believe THIS Santa is THE Santa because the others don’t look the same.
It seems so unnatural. Four. FOUR. She really is some sort of savant, though, at four with two extraordinarily brilliant parents and her own scientific mind. So if anyone would be far far ahead of the game, it’s her.
Of course, my child still plays with pretend mice… so there’s that.
But when? When do they find out? When do they ask? And how long will I be blessed with blowing off the questions because “Oh, he’s magic, silly!” and how long will she accept that the plane we see with the red light on Christmas Eve is really a reindeer carrying a fat, jolly, bearded man to each and every house in the entire world.
I hope we have at least a few more years. It’s too fun to end.
We’re all feeling the pinch. I, personally, REALLY need to hear good news from the economy before I hear more bad news from Mr Flinger’s office. Oh, Dow, you slutty ho.
So, this season, I officially declared Re-Gifting the new black. The New Financially Responsible thing to do. The “Latest Trend In Gift Giving.”
It is so because I said it is.
We’re giving the children a large piano her Uncle and Aunt purchased for her when she was 15 months old. It was a Christmas gift from 2005. We’ve moved it twice. It’s in the garage, still unopened, waiting for her to be old enough to appreciate it.
This is the year.
We’re also giving Baby O a basketball hoop for toddlers handed down from Michelle. It was handed down from another friend and a friend or a garage sale before that. It’s cleaned up, shiny, as good as new and for five dollars, it’s a steal.
My parents have not seen their gifts from Mothers or Fathers day. They will be under the tree as well.
There are plenty of lovely gifts we received, with tags on still, simply at the wrong time of development. Baby O had a growth spurt right past his 6 month sizes. I have a nephew now, right in that range, and it would be silly and a shame to not give those down to him.
I’m fairly sure a sweater my mother gave me last year, was one that didn’t fit her and had the tags on it.
She’ll be getting it this Christmas.
(Ok, maybe a little)
(I’ll find something else in my closet for you.)
This year, I’m following the biggest rule of gift giving: “It’s the thought that counts” and nothing since “I thought of you when I saw this big hunk o’ crap I didn’t want” like a gift from 2001 that still sits in your pantry.
As they say, one man’s crap is another man’s treasure.
Pass it forward. Take the oath. Re-gift this season like all the cool kids.
(Thank you for all the wonderful wonderfulness in asking about Baby O. He is doing well. Digging at his ears and needing to be looked at again but over-all he went through the surgery without a hitch. In fact, he was back to his ol’ self within three hours or so, with one minor change: He can hear me now. He can hear me sing. And this makes him scream louder. :: sigh :: )
19 guests here now.