The following letter is to my first two children. I was blessed with two more children in the years following, when we blended families. An older son (7 years older than my first child) and a younger son (11 years younger than my first child). I have reaped blessings and am grateful beyond measure.
In my opinion, based on how I experience and process events and in particular, ‘time’ (as time never stops) I have been (at certain points in my life), terribly oblivious or perhaps unwilling to accept, that time does not stand still.
It probably is safe to say that many other people are just like me. I recall reading an Erma Bomback short story (or maybe it was a long quote or poem) which warned a parent to enjoy the handprints on the walls, to use the good china, to accept that laundry could be done another day. Of course the moral was that time does not stand still and that one day, the mother would look back and wish she would have enjoyed life (and family) more and fretted less.
I believe I did a fine job of appreciating that family experiences were of the utmost importance. How much I enjoyed them, if truth is to be told, really was dependant I suppose, upon how much stress there was in my life at the time. It is difficult to stand outside of yourself and choose the options that will be the correct ones (for future memories) when you have worked all week, had groceries to buy, meals to cook, ran about caring for kids and pets, chauffeured children to soccer or football or skating, swimming, music lessons, etc. Then there was always (always) the house and yardwork…
I can’t tell you both how many times I would be ‘smiling the smile’ during a harried birthday party because it wasn’t quite turning out how I thought it would (or maybe because I had a pounding headache from all the screaming and activity).
I distinctly remember standing on top of our old dining room table the night before your third birthday Natasha, pinning up balloons and streamers onto the roof at midnight; your brother was born 12 days previous via c-section and had finally settled down to sleep. I was tired and sore I’m sure, probably holding my incision with one hand and pinning with the other- but I am only guessing about that, since my only recollection of the event was the look of pure joy when you woke the next morning.
And that’s the thing; as a parent you have the occasion to be the actor, producer and director of this film we call child rearing. You want this film to sweep the Oscars or even just get nominated, when the fact is that even if you have the largest, unlimited budget in the world with exceptional talent-you just never know how things will turn out. You can only do the best you can at the time.
Anyway, as I was saying, I do think I appreciated (for the most part), the here and now events that unfolded as we lived…what I now know to be, some of the fondest and significant times in my life’s journey so far
In between the birthday parties (hosting and being invited to), sporting and school events-there was dress up (old hats and glasses, big boots and red lipstick) and your clan of what became affectionately known as ‘the every bodies’ (your collection of figures was well over one hundred!). There was the sailing of pirate ships (outdoors, with paper and plastic boats…while indoors, our queen sized bed made a great makeshift vessel). There were forts to make out of old towels and bedsheets and kitchen concoctions to whip up from odds and ends in the pantry.
Sometimes your (poor) father would arrive home from work greeted by the two of you, insistent that he try your recipe of ketchup, flour, salt, stale bread, oregano, frozen peas and maybe an expired 4 year old can of sardines (which would never remember buying). He would usually give me a long, hard stare and then sit down ‘smiling the smile’, and with each pretend bite he took, would rave about what great chefs you were.
There were the collections: acorns and ladybugs, buttons and hockey cards…and how could I ever forget the jar of sow bugs you had collected from our cracked, cold, (and unbelievably damp) basement Natasha?
But back to our adventures! Were you bored? I don’t think so. We even had an old dial up computer that you both were allowed to use with various educational ‘floppy discs’ for exactly 1 hour per day. We had one telephone that was stationary on the wall in our tiny kitchen. It was fire engine red and had the longest cord we could find that would stretch from the kitchen to our tropical fish room or into our front dining room where, when your grandparents would call, you would lay sprawled out on the hardwood floor chatting away, explaining what grand adventures had occurred that day.
Gosh…when I think of all the things that made up, what seemed at the time to be mundane days…it appears now, at least to me, they were not so mundane after all.
I have digressed, which is what I seem to do nowadays…re-living events in my mind as though they were yesterday. I am writing this because we are coming up to Easter. As you both are well aware, we always had numerous birthdays (along with the celebration of Easter), in March and April. Easter sometimes fell in March and sometimes in April, but of course always on a Sunday. Yes, March and April were busy months for sure!
The Saturday night before Easter, after you were both finally put to bed, there I would be, cracking open brightly coloured plastic eggs to stuff with chocolates and gummy candies. Most times I’d need to wrap the candies in cellophane before stuffing the eggs- because Spring in Winnipeg either was terribly wet or impossibly snowy. I know I could have just hidden the eggs inside the house, cutting out the amount of time and effort it took, but then that would have taken away so much of the fun and excitement, wouldn’t it?
After I had stuffed the eggs it was time to draw a crude map of our backyard. I would have 60 eggs. Each of you got an equal share. I would oftentimes be out at 1:00 o’clock in the morning, without a flashlight (because we either forgot to buy batteries or, a more likely reason was that they were too expensive to replace) hiding your treasures with only the light from our back porch, scratching an ‘x’ on the map for where I had hidden each egg. Sometimes it would be raining-sometimes snowing…Sometimes I would have cramps or was exhausted or had a cold. But always I hid those damn eggs and marked each one on my map.
After the last egg was hidden I would head into the house for a tea (and maybe a beer..or two), and write a short letter from the Easter Bunny explaining that he had left a map with Mommy and Daddy and to have fun finding all the eggs!
I must add here that your father thought I was completely off my rocker (as he often thought when I insisted upon doing something that took planning, money and more time than was probably necessary only to have a short lived event..).
But I tell you this-I never, ever, regretted it for one single second. And frankly, (just between us three) there was an occasion or two that your father ‘became involved’ (I could be very persuasive) in the wrapping of eggs and perhaps the mapper of egg locations. As long as he had his coffee in the morning, for the most part, he would not fall asleep while the hunt was in progress!
When the morning came, an Easter basket filled with a few goodies and dollar store toys like kites, marbles and pop n’ scoops, play dough and puzzles would occupy you both while having a quick breakfast. Occasionally you would even try to peer through the window into our backyard, scoping out the landscape to see if you spotted a flash of colour. Cheaters!
Once your father and I (or at least me) had sufficiently woken up, we would head outside, both of you in your winter jackets and boots, excited beyond measure with us cheering you on using our roughly drawn map from the Easter Bunny: “You’re getting warmer!! Colder,…colder….warmer…Super Warm, Hot! Hot! Hot!”!
Oh, what a treat that was!
Once the last one was found, it was back inside the house where you would furiously open each egg, popping the occasional treat in your mouths while hoping that you had gathered an egg that possibly held a coin or two inside! Aaron, you must remember that since you couldn’t eat chocolate because of your migraines, if you opened an egg with chocolate and your sister opened an egg with gummies, you both would trade.
After the goods were all tallied up (and put away so that the dogs didn’t indulge) it was time to get washed up and dressed for church! As you may recall, for many years we lived just down the street from our little sanctuary. Although the walk should have taken 5 minutes at the most, it was not unusual for it to take 20 or even 30 minutes. After all, there were leaves and rocks to collect in the Fall, snow banks to climb in the winter and puddles to splash about in when Spring time finally arrived. Sometimes we would even peer into the windows of Mikes General Store-located right on the corner of our churchs’ property…he had so many fun and unusual antiques, didn’t he?
Oh, my little treasures..I could write for days…we had so many adventures, didn’t we? As I think back, it is hard to believe that those days are so far away. I look out into our backyard now and see so many spots to hide those eggs! I don’t think I ever thought it would end- which is preposterous really…
Can you imagine having a mother that would make you both live at home (with her!) for the rest of your lives, insisting that you participate in finding the eggs that she hid in the wee hours of the morning?!
No. Time goes on and I am grateful that I had the unique pleasure of being your Easter Bunny for a while.
One day, you both will have the incredible opportunity to be an actor, producer and director of your family’s experiences…
Take it all in. Fully participate in the innocence, joy and complete happiness that even a mundane day brings.
Try not to fret over the tears and arguments, sickness and exhaustion; inevitably there will be pathos. But I promise you both…the ‘awards’ (or I should say..rewards), will be grand!
And I will sign off by saying…BRAVO! I couldn’t have dreamed that this ‘film’ we have created would be the most outstanding achievement I have ever experienced in my entire life. I look forward to the sequels….
So much love,