The photos in this post were taken by my fabulous friend Bonnie of Two Creative Birds Photography. You know–she wrote THIS great post and also THIS post on using your DSLR camera. She and her hubby Gabe are the bomb and their son Jones is comedic genius. They are seriously a family of artists and you need to go see their work NOW. (Their latest? A wedding with BEARS.) Normally I wouldn’t go messing with someone professional’s photos, but I pulled just the Facebook versions and sized them here. I put MY watermark since sizing changes quality and I didn’t want any of those weird changes to reflect their awesome work, but I DON’T want them lost on the interweb.
Did I mention we ALMOST got kicked out of a church taking these pics? Or, maybe we just hoped we could have a Sunday morning that smelled a little of danger.
Last week when I was still bleary-eyed from being up at 6:30am, Sawyer came into the kitchen and said “Mommy, mommy, mommy, my teeth are loose.”
And I said, “Uh huh, I’m making eggs, get out of the kitchen.”
Which is about how it goes when I’m trying to make eggs and the children are like so many small dogs underfoot. Plus I avoid tooth conversations because I feel guilty that I’ve never taken the kids to the dentist since I think baby teeth shouldn’t require dental care. (Though I’m actually terrified my kids’ mouths are riddled with cavities.)
6:30 is WAY too early to talk teeth and Mommy Guilt so I said, “Go on,” and shooed him with the wooden spoon.
“No, Mommy,” he said. “FEEL them.”
So I put down the spoon and touched his teeth. They wiggled. TWO OF THEM WIGGLED. And in that moment, I felt the sudden realization that I am a capital P Parent. Somewhere in between the swelling of my belly for the first time and now when the noise of four crushes me with its weight sometimes, I have become a Parent.
Of course I’m a parent. I’ve been a parent for a long time, just like I’ve been an adult for a long time. But most days, I don’t feel like a Parent OR an Adult. Didn’t college just happen? Wasn’t I just seventeen, driving down River Road in my Oldsmobile with the windows wide open, listening to a mix tape heavy with Pearl Jam? I’m still drawn to the juniors department (though admittedly less since styles from when I was 12 became current again). I still climb trees. I still listen to Pearl Jam. I still stay up too late and sit in the floor criss-cross-applesauce.
Admitting that I’m an Adult or a Parent means, somehow, admitting I’m Old.
In that moment, feeling two teeth wiggling, I felt OLD. I can sense the way time has sped up in my life and feel not unlike a star long-dead, whose light still hasn’t caught the memo and blinked out. Until I blink out though, I’m going to be light.
I’m going to be how I feel, which is not Adult or Parent, at least not in the stuffy and serious way that I sometimes see it lived. I want to laugh and drive with the windows down and play in the mud with my kids (like we did today). I want to be responsible and mature, but I don’t want to be buttoned up and chained down. I am still the girl who wore shorts under her church dress just in case, though my memory of that is from a time when I was not much older than Cooper. I have a feeling she will be the shorts-under-the-dress type as well.
So I called my friend Bonnie and we crashed a church playground on a Sunday morning despite the signs that read keep out, and the nice church people smiled and let our kids play while she snapped some lovely photos before my Sawyer loses his first teeth and becomes a Boy.
I know that I’m a parent and a Parent and that too fast the time is slipping away from me and us. I’m reminded in the gray hairs I color in with permanent marker and by the lines around my eyes. I see it in the box of clothes I can’t get rid of, but know I’ll never fit into again. I feel it as Quin loses her hair and I remember Sawyer’s baby comb-over as he drooled through his onesies and uses his tiny fists to bat at toys.
The time simply GOES. I can’t catch it in my hands nor stop it by digging in my heels. I can try to go with it gracefully, being myself and allowing my children to be themselves. Which is why, rather than take some posed photos to celebrate and remember these teeth which will be lost in a sandwich or perhaps tugged out by a string, we chose this natural child habitat for pictures.
“Play,” we said to our children, and as we talked about how hard it was and how fast it was moving. The joy was all around us in the laughter and the bike races and the digging in the dirt.
I want to be the light. I want to be laughter. I want the memories that my children have of this fleeting childhood time to be sweet and not clouded at all with the frustration or the weary that comes from being a Parent.
One of my favorite memories of my mother is when I was in high school. Right at that crazy pre-dinner time, she spilled a whole box of angel hair pasta right onto the linoleum floor. She giggled. She stood with angel hair up to her ankles and steam rising up from a pot and she GIGGLED. I happened to have a camera and I snapped a few photos before she could stop me. I’ll dig them out of a box one day and share them here.
THOSE are the moments I want my children to remember: a box of spilled pasta and a giggle.
And what will I remember of this time? Not the noise, which is a constant not-so-dull roar. I will remember the weight of carrying two at once in my arms and the feel of a small body curled up next to mine in the night. I will remember hugs that stop at my waist, a face pressed into my hip, and the look of joy on a child who is running top speed. These are the moments of beauty and the so very real.
Maybe if we continue to think of those moments we want to remember, turning them over in our minds like a smooth stone in the palm, maybe then we will get to keep them. Maybe this is the secret to slowing time: reveling in it.
But no, it still hurtles on and I struggle to keep up and I shoo my children from the kitchen because how else can I make the eggs?
I will keep his teeth when they fall out, just as I tucked away the locks of Cooper’s hair that I finally trimmed today. And when I am Old, Really Old, I will hand down boxes of these tiny moments that are and are not quite Memories. Until then, you cannot pry these moments from my hand.