“Where were you?”
It’s always been hard for me to part with objects that have surrounded the childhood of my kids. This morning was no exception. Today, as part of a recent de-cluttering kick, I walked to the curb with this infant car seat—the car seat that both our kids took their first voyages home in—and set it in the trash.
I know I am not throwing away their childhood, but it reminds me of the easily overlooked fact that it’s already gone. Years later Brynn would often crawl back into this car seat as if trying to reclaim the security of her earliest memories. The trouble is, there’s no security there, not for Brynn, not for any of us. All we will ever have is happening right now, and that’s no stable ground. Hanging on to an old car seat won’t bring back the sweetness of an early childhood, but the ache I feel inside at this moment is pulling my attention back to this life that is still happening (So call your folks and tell them you love them!). We lose so much life without even participating in it! We are too busy trying to resurrect the dead past or filling our barns in preparation for an unpredictable future to notice the utter futility of an awareness thus restricted. Better to burn every pair of baby shoes, every love note from your spouse, every photo of the family that raised you, than to miss the moment in which you now sit that is calling your name.
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This morning as the kids were getting ready for school, I told my son that he had done a good job getting his stuff ready and that I loved him. “I don’t care”, he said. So I did what the moment demanded. I grabbed him and tickled him until he nearly peed. Our neighbor boy who waits for the bus at our place said, “man, I never hear you guys laugh like that.” It was like someone punched me in the gut, but he was right. Every morning my head is full of the rush and worry that surrounds the completion of my PhD. This anxiety regularly bleeds over to how I am around the kids as they get ready for the bus. It won’t be long and there will be no more kids waiting of for buses, no more giggling when they should be reading, no more hugs and “I love you” signs made out the bus window as it drives away. Will I look back and ask, “Where were you?”