Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sometimes I'd Like to Live on Memory Lane

I've been a little nostalgic lately. Sometimes "life" just seems to catch up and pass me!
Last week our oldest child graduated from college and moved to NY, ready to tackle the world --he left with a trunk full of clothes, his guitar, his ipod, a AAA card, and a piece of my heart. This week we are also preparing to usher our middlest daughter into adulthood -- we'll watch her graduate from high school and then she too will soon enter the "grown up" ranks of the college scene. These events, along with Mother's Day and my birthday tomorrow (as well as those pesky fluctuating hormones that we women contend with all the time) have converged into something akin to a perfect storm of nostalgia.

So I have been looking at old pictures, reminiscing about life and children, and thinking about some of my earliest days as a new mom. I was like so many others, a bit unsure and nervous, and sometimes things were not very easy, or very calm. But motherhood has been a real blessing and it has also provided ample opportunities to learn things like the fine art of keeping my mouth shut diplomacy. Living in a small community in rural Georgia, I had many experiences with receiving“helpful advice” from well-intentioned(?) busy-bodies experts where I had a chance to put my new found skills into practice. This one involved our firstborn, and it left me speechless. . . and a little wiser.

Our son was born in the middle of July and, except for doctor visits, I still had not ventured out in public with him--and it was nearing the end of August. It wasn't because I was afraid or worried someone might breathe on him or give him a cold; it wasn't even because I was still recovering from a C-section. It was mostly because of the pregnancy "left-overs" that made all of my clothes obscenely too tight. "How on earth did my thighs gain baby weight??" I wondered, "These are my legs, for goodness sake; there wasn't even any baby there!" Honestly, there was just no way I was sporting those new "bundles of joy" in public until they were a more manageable size. I was not, I repeat, not wearing maternity clothes after the fact. No way.

So after a few weeks of exercise and a bit of discipline at the dinner table (and a huge dose of reality which eventually led to a trip to the mall for larger clothes) I decided it was time to show off my sweet, sweet little first born. He was ready to meet the world even if my thighs weren't. We took the little guy to church for his first official outing. After the service my husband and I made our way outside and walked toward the car with Little One safely buckled in his carrier, eyes shielded from the sun. Mind you, it was probably 98 degrees in the Georgia heat by this time of day. However one of the little old ladies stopped us and scolded me for not having our baby’s feet covered with a blanket. "He'll catch his death from a cold," she warned emphatically and quickly threw a blanket over him, head to toe. Cover his feet? What?! Oh my goodness, I had no idea exposed feet. . . in August. . . in Georgia could be life-threatening. How did I miss that little tidbit of advice in the mountain of baby books I'd devoured during pregnancy. I smiled apologetically and walked on. Just as we reached our car another woman stopped to admire our new little one, and she too had a word of wisdom to impart, “Take this blanket off that baby," she chastised, "Don’t you know it’s almost 100 degrees out here!?” What was a new mom to do?

Now that I am closing in on the other side of child-rearing I have a better perspective. (And so far, my offspring have managed to grow up in spite of me.) For the most part, over the years, I relied on common sense, my Mom’s experienced wisdom, selective memory loss, thousands of band-aids, lots of prayer, and a ton of Dr. Dobson books; and I also bit my tongue more times than I can remember.

And now it's my turn to impart some words of wisdom to you newbie moms out there--you may not believe this right now while you are in the midst of cleaning vom off your lap, or digging cheerios out of the crevices of your car, or throwing away your toothbrush because you discovered your toddler cleaning the toilet with it, or staying up until 3AM supervising ten giggling 8 year olds at a slumber party, or wiping away the tears of your broken-hearted little league player, or riding white-knuckled in a car with a 15 year old kid and her newly issued learner's permit, or typing a term paper 6 hours before it's due. Just remember. . . those sweet little babies do grow up. And they do learn to dress themselves (feet covered or not.) And they do learn to say please and thank you. And they do (sometimes) learn to pick up after themselves. And they do learn to drive and to type their own papers. And they do graduate. And they do make you proud. And they do go on to make a life for themselves! So heed this advice: do not under any circumstances look at old baby pictures of your children, especially during the week when they are graduating and leaving the nest. It will rip out your heart. I won't even mention what happens when you watch old home movies of the little critters. . . My advice, take it or leave it. :)


julie Haymaker thompson said...

My grandmother always told us to wear our socks or we would get sun stroke. OH Really !?!? .My mother -in- law has came up with some real doesies too . You are at a passage in life . I enjoyed the post. Julie

Designs By CK said...

WOW ~ Got SUCH a chuckle from these CUTE pics!!!

Thanks 4 sharing with us!!!

Enjoy your week.

mE (-:

Amongst The Oaks said...

Oh, that was so cute. Previous generations had some funny ideas, didn't they? I hope we don't do that when we get old. My little baby is graduating in twelve days and going off on an adventure too. Thanks for the advice on cruising down Memory Lane. I'll avoid it until she's gone, then I'll get all weepy.

itsahumanzoo said...

What a sweet post. I am not looking forward to my little ones getting any older. That means I have to get older too!

My Not Me! Monday

Jacquelynne said...

And with one daughter finishing her freshman year of college (how did THAT happen??) and another starting graduating from 8th grade in a couple of weeks- I do not look at baby pictures- it's too hard. I figure before I know it, I'll have GRANDBABY pictures to show around... They do have a lot of nerve growing up and getting their own lives, don't they???

TattingChic said...

The photos of those kids are so darn cute! No wonder you want to live in memory lane...look at all those darling memories! :)

BittersweetPunkin said...

This was a great post...I came back and read it twice. :) LOVE the photos....I am trying to catch up on my scrapbooks and the photos I look at make me wonder where did all that time go?

Yes, the do grow up....FAST!

Amy said...

What a sweet post, Cathy!! Got me a little teary-eyed since my baby just turned one on Monday. I know it will go by so fast!!!

(Crafting by Candlelight)

Debbie Miller of Onion Patch said...

Such cute kids!! What an adventure life takes us on!! I would do it all again!!

I found some tadpoles swimming in my backyard and thought of you:)

Take care and many blessings,

Thimbleanna said...

Darn it. Now I need a kleenex. WHERE did the time go? How is it that our children are grown???

Happy, Happy Birthday. And congratulations to your graduates!

Sweet William Primitives said...

Hello Cathy! Thanks for sharing your pictures, such cute children and a sweet post too...and they do grow up much too fast! Speaking of pictures, I just noticed yours...you have a face like an angel! Have a wonderful day!~Kathy

Mary Isabella and Kiley too! said...

This was for me a very good post. I love every word. Mother's Day was very hard for me this year. My youngest child will be 30 this year. I do so miss the days you were talking about and can relate to so many of the things you experience. My back is still whacky and can only set at the computer for a short time and wanted to catch up with you my friend. Have a great weekend...m.

KarenHarveyCox said...

Oh I know all about going down Memory Lane. Motherhood is such a gift and your children are gorgeous. My youngest is graduating from High School too. Last night we attended a graduation dinner for the parents and kids and we watched a dvd of each child. We had submitted a baby photo, middle photo and a current photo. It was bittersweet really. I hope that you have beautiful weather for your graduation.


Amy said...

What a perfectly perfect post!!!!

Suzanne said...

Well, first of all....awwww, what cute pics, and..."Happy Belated Birthday"!!!

They say there is a calm in the center of a storm, I hope you've found the center in your "nostalgic perfect storm" this week! Kiddos do seem to grow up despite our best (or unknowingly and unintentionally worst) parenting efforts :)

We've finished school for the year,and now I have two in high school! Where O' where does the time go?
Have a great 3-day weekend!

Mockingbird Hill said...

"What a sweet post" they all say?? Crap...you've got me in tears, all stuffed up with tears hitting the keyboard!!

Happy Birthday, dear Cathy...how lucky your kids are to have such a special Mom!

Now...where are my photo albums..*sniff*..and some tissues..*sniff*..? And, give me the phone...I need to call my baby, right now... :)

Cassie *sniff*

twinklescrapbooks said...

Thank you for sharing your memories with us. This was a very sweet post. :)

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

I'll be a real basket case when my baby graduates. She'll be a freshman in high school this fall. I'm already stock-piling the tissues.

carole said...

Hi Cathy:
I was visiting my friend Mary's blog and saw your name and came to say hi; long time since I have come this way.
This post is poignant as it is exactly what all of we Moms have gone through : )
The photos look like they could have been out of my family album : ) Just the girl version for me.
It is so true they grow (in spite of us : ) and become grown : (
Lovely post!!!
Thank you for putting into words that which I feel.

cindy said...

Well said my friend. And while I don't have little tid-bid-lets of my own, my nieces were here so much with us (each summer and Christmas break) they become "ours" essentially. And now, to see those gurls grown (one is eighteen - newly married and now a honeymoon baby on the way, the other just turned 19 and is planning to marry in the fall), sniff. So yep, I can understand. I tease the oldest about all the goofy things she used to do when she was little. I miss that. Crap...hand me one of your tissues! :( Great piece honey!

yapping cat

Artsy-Craftsy Merchant said...

Outstanding post! Thank you.

Jann said...

I am so glad I made the time to stop by and catch up on your blog posts--this one is priceless! I have SO been where you are now, and really, really enjoyed reading what you wrote, Cathy. I wish much luck to your children as they leave the nest and hope that they work hard and enjoy much success in life. I'm sure you and your hubby have given them the very best in raising them, and they will appreciate you more and more as they grow older. As my kids have matured into adults, now in their 20s and 30s, they have gained much more understanding of what it's like to be a parent. I never thought I'd EVER hear, "You were right, Mom--I should have listened to you," and now I think every one of mine has said that to me at least once! I even had one say the other day, "I would like to apologize for giving you such a hard time when I was a teenager"--imagine that! They are now not only my children, but my friends. . . still, I'd love to live on Memory Lane, too, just for a little while . . .

Jann said...

Oh, and PS--I hope you had a wonderful birthday!!!!

Victorian Lady said...

This post pulls at my heart strings! My oldest is 7 and we are planning on a third...I think about this all the time. That it won't last, that they are going to leave one day. I know I appreciate it, but at the same time I think I think about it TOO much because the bittersweetness of it all can ruin the moment. Am I hugging them enough? Taking enough pictures? Documenting EVERYthing? Seriously, I'm still having kids and I don't know how I'll cope with an empty nest. I feel like I am always going to want a little one around to cuddle. It has to end sometime though. :( It's a bummer.

I actually just made a video about this recently...the song in it is so important to me. If you would like to see my 2 little redhead beauties, my screenname for youtube is victorianladyaz1.

Hugs to you! :)