Turning 35 has made me realize how fast the time has gone by. I don't mind that I'm only five years away from the big one, however, it feels like being 20 was only yesterday. I think about how different my life was then. Quite carefree, and for the most part, completely naive to the world around me. And yet, there are parts of my life that were already too grown up, even at that age.
Sometimes children have to grow up too fast. Their circumstances command them to take charge and survive whatever it is that may be robbing them of just being a kid. As a young adult, I did not understand the whys or the hows of what came to be, in my own life. But now that I'm a parent, there is a sharper perspective from where it once appeared blurry. Like the children, the parents are also trying to survive. And hopefully, there is a support system in place to help them through the 'life stuff'.
My mom has been gone for just over 3 years now. Celebrating another birthday, without her, was easier than I thought it might be. I thought about where she was at, when she turned 35. And it gives me joy to know that she was happy, beginning a new life for herself--and in some ways, for her children, too. I'd like to think that she knows that I'm happy, as well. To see all that has changed since she was here--and maybe God did grant her request for a 'news feed' of sorts. Wouldn't that be the coolest thing? To have social network up there, keeping tabs on earth-bound loved ones. But then I hear that Heaven is so grand--a place where time stands still. So it may be such that when I arrive and see my mom, it will seem as if no time at all has passed, for her.
I wish I could put time in a bottle. Not to save it up, or spend it later. What I want to put in that bottle are the memories of my kids when they were little. They still are kinda little, but I'm painfully aware of how fast it all has gone by. This kindergarten chapter, this going to school every day now...it has hit me that the time I have with them gets shorter, each year. My daughter will go to preschool, next year. The comments I hear the most, about that milestone, is all the extra time I will have. And that is something--time to do all the stuff that is hard to do when they are at home.
Lately, I've been convicted of how more often than not, I will find things to do other than play with my kids. It makes me sad, partly because my mind is always thinking of the next thing I have to do...and all the while, the days go by, the months, the years..."cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man and the moon..." Just like that old song, I'll wish that I would have said 'no' to the list, and got on the floor with them, instead.
My dad has a unique propensity for remaining somewhat child-like, even at his grandfatherly age. I have many memories of bike rides, going to the parks, wrestling on the stinky floor(yes, there was 'gas' involved), playing softball, board games and cards. Those happy times are good filters against the unpleasant circumstance of life. I think that somewhere in there, I'm a lot like him. I need to remind myself of what it means 'to play'.
Kids are so creative. I love that about them. Cardboard boxes are turned into doghouses for stuffed animals--complete with an attached doggie door, made out of a paper bag. Scotch tape is a commodity used for securing all kinds of things to the back of little tractors. The grill tongs are barracudas that eat squeaky bath-toy fishies. Spoons are dog bones, pillows and bean bags are rocks for the plastic snakes to hide under. Yarn and name-tag holders have now become dog leashes. Oh, another favorite: those metal holders for steeping loose tea? They are sharks that enjoy eating coins. The barbies go to parties--riding my little pony's and giant stuffed cats--as their coaches and carriages. Cinderella has gone lots of places, at our house! And then there is all the nature stuff on the kitchen island: tree bark, rocks, pine cones, and the glass jars with the 'bug of the day' catch. The fridge is covered in artwork...
Note to self: play with your kids today. The to-do list can wait 15 minutes...or maybe half an hour. We can't bottle up time for later, but the memories we choose to make will always be with us.