I want to remember Portia's subtle lisp and how the words tumble out of her mouth surrounded by gasps of breath when she's excited, and the way she says "mazagine" instead of "magazine." I want to remember Holden's wild hand gestures, expressive faces, and full body explanations--his general inability to contain his excitement within his tiny body when he has something to say.
I want to remember their crazy dances and silly games, their wild imaginations, their energy and joy and oozy buckets of love. I want to remember every tear and boo boo, every squeal of joy, every moment of accomplishment, every first...peeing in the potty, zipping their jackets, writing their names, reading a book, riding a two wheeler, making a hole-in-one at mini golf. I want to remember every cuddle and nap on my shoulder, every bedtime story and lullaby, every meal, every vacation, every splash in the pool and dig in the sand. I want to remember my husband making them laugh, throwing them in the pool, teaching them to swing a bat, and chasing them through the yard with a squirt gun.
And I want to remember me, at my best with them; me being the mom I want to be. Me being the listener, the cuddler, the kisser of booboos and chaser of bad dreams, the attention giver, the food preparer, the surpriser, the fun haver, the tickle monster, the squeal-inducing chaser, the gift giver, the hugger and kisser, the back scratcher, the question answerer, the never-ending patience haver. I want to remember it all...
So where did this come from?
We recently came across a video of Portia on her first day of preschool at 2 1/2 years old. She's singing this adorable, made-up song about the first day of school. And it's amazingly sweet and funny. And I realized that I had forgotten that version of her. The age, that look, that voice. I'd forgotten. I don't want to forget that.
I recently did this exercise where I thought about how I want my kids to describe their childhood when they grow up and what I want to leave behind when I die. I'm not trying to be morbid and I certainly don't want to rush through my kids' childhood. The idea was to think about where I want to end up-- what my big picture, important life goals are; to really ground myself in that so that I could see if what I'm doing now has me on the path to get where I ultimately want to be.
Because here's the thing: if one of my goals is "to raise happy kids turned happy adults, filled with warm memories and lots of love; kids who follow their dreams and share that love," but I spend most of my time tackling a to do list, writing emails and looking at Facebook, well, then I'm not on a great trajectory to achieve my goal. Maybe my time would be better spent playing a game or doing a craft with my kids, or helping them with their homework or watching the show their putting on for me. If one of my goals is "to leave behind stories, lots and lots of stories," then writing, telling stories to my kids, and talking with friends are actually great uses of my time.
Because here's the other thing: our time here on earth is not infinite. As much as it might seem, on any given random day, like it is...it is not. And guess what? Our kids will grow up and move away (or at least out of the house). Some day I will die. It's the one thing we can truly say that we know for certain will happen, right? And when that day comes I want to have truly lived and remembered every moment with my kids (because not only was I there doing it, but I was also paying attention). I want to be able to picture their infant faces and their kid bodies and their wondrous souls. And I want to leave behind a long and winding rope of people who felt loved and appreciated and honored by me. Especially my kids.
I want to leave behind a legacy of strength and love and compassion and understanding and joy and silliness and laughter and growth and learning. And that legacy began 40 years ago. And it continues today, and tomorrow, and next week, with every choice I make, with the ways I choose to spend my day and the attitude I choose to have. It's not happening when I have more time or when the kids are a little older or when the weather is nicer or when I lose five pounds or when I retire. It's now. This day. This moment.
This is my life.
I want to live it, savor it, love it...and remember it.
Until next time, here are my words of wisdom for you: live the life today that you want to remember tomorrow. And pay attention.