This year, I’ve had the experience of being one of the “older” (or, more seasoned) moms, at my younger daughter’s preschool. For several of the other moms, this is their first encounter with school. They’ve enrolled their oldest children for the first time, and drop them off and pick them up with their younger kiddos in tow—infant car seats, burp cloths and all.
On the mornings when Anna is in school, I walk to a nearby library to write. Several times, the other moms have invited me to join them in the school lounge. Many times, they camp out in there—similar to how I camp out in the library—and chat as they feed and change their babies.
Every time, I’ve thanked them as I’ve bowed out, apologizing that I had work to do.
The other day, I dropped Anna off. I smiled and waved goodbye to the other moms. And as I walked to the library, I realized I had been those moms, when Grace was starting that preschool and Anna was still a baby.
Not so long ago, that was me. My days were more flexible; I had more time for off-the-cuff commiserating about sleep schedules and first foods. But I wasn’t that person anymore; I was somebody different now.
I remember when both my girls were babies, all the cozy moments we had together, all the much-appreciated conversation I exchanged with other parents (some of whom became friends) at parks and playgrounds and anything that was open by 9 a.m. on a Saturday. I’m thankful for that time in our life.
I’m also thankful for this time now, when my children are a little more independent, and I can be a little more independent too.
Earlier this week, I came across the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. I remembered that this book was popular a few years ago. (Usually, I’m a few years behind on a trend.)
Have you read this book, friends? I just started it, but I’m enjoying it. I very much appreciate its message about living in the present and making the most of the present. For example, this passage on pages 117-118 struck me:
“And what about things from your own childhood? Do you still keep your report cards or graduation certificates…Let all those letters you received years ago…go. The purpose of a letter is fulfilled the moment it is received…It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure.”
Kondo’s last line there resonated with me: “It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure.”
That perspective gave me permission, in a way, to consider letting go of some things I’ve kept with me through some of our cross-country moves—some things that have been packed up in boxes since our season in Virginia, nearly nine years ago.
As you know, our family of four moved into our home here in New York this past spring. Seven months later, we’re fairly unpacked. In the basement, however, remain a few lingering boxes.
A friend of ours needed some boxes, which motivated me to unpack some of ours—three, to be exact. On Sunday afternoon, I opened up these boxes.
Opening up boxes—often an exercise in nostalgia.
I like to think of myself as a minimalist, but the truth is, like everyone else, I have more stuff than I think I do. I unpacked towels, a spare set of sheets, a beautiful robe I’ve worn probably three times. I found a hard hat (Stanton’s), an alphabet puzzle (the girls’) and a bunch of cords.
Marie Kondo has a thought about cords: “If you see a cord and wonder what on earth it’s for, chances are you’ll never use it again” (page 110). She advocates for discarding cords that are a mystery to you.
I didn’t discard our cords—I didn’t discard anything, except a few broken toys—but as this week has gone on, I’ve continued reflecting on new seasons…Kondo’s book…and the boxes we keep in our homes, closed up and stored away.
Opening up boxes—often an exercise in nostalgia.
It’s a new season, literally, here in upstate New York: winter. Yesterday morning, snow was falling as I loaded the girls into the car for school.
“Wow!” Grace exclaimed, gazing up at the sky.
“Build a snowman?” Anna asked, hopeful.
“Please get into the car, girls,” I said. “We’re almost late.”
Instead, Anna pointed at me and laughed with delight. “Mom! Snowflakes in your hair!”
I couldn’t help but smile. And I took a moment to take in the snowfall, and the snowflakes. It is amazing that each snowflake is unique.
I was talking with my brother Jared a few nights ago. As we were on the phone, the girls were yelling in the background. “Oh, my gosh,” I said.
“One day, you’ll miss this,” Jared replied.
People say that, but… “We’ll see,” I said.
There must be a happy medium between nostalgia, and Marie Kondo’s magic of tidying up (i.e., throw things away). A balancing act of respecting the past, and embracing the present. Embracing new seasons.
Every holiday season, families gather together. Sometimes when we get together, we find that we revert to roles or personas from our childhood that aren’t us anymore—that don’t represent who we are today. It’s an easy, perhaps even automatic, thing to do. We don’t have to do it, though. We can choose to be the person we are now, all the time.
Until, of course, we evolve into the person we are next. Someone with a little more silver in their hair, and hopefully some wisdom to go along with it.
Yesterday was a little bit of a long day. At the end of it, I was cleaning up in the kitchen. Stanton was on his way home, and the girls were in the breakfast nook; I had just refilled their cups of milk.
I overheard Anna say, “Mom is nice. Do you like Mom, Grace?”
“Yes, I love Mom, Anna,” Grace said, and I could picture her shaking her head a little at Anna. Because I know Grace, and that’s what she would do.
Something I didn’t know until it happened—and I imagine this is true for many parents—is how much I would love being someone’s mom. How much I would treasure that, even on days that are a little bit long, and ones when we’re almost late. Motherhood is an all-season, always-a-part-of-you state of mind.
Luckily, some things don’t change.
Photo credit: Pixabay
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “What Happens Next.” A story that’s heartfelt, relevant and can’t-put-it-down good.