Tuesday, December 19, 2017

grateful ache and home movies

We watched a few home videos this week, from the days when home was elsewhere and my babies were babies.

They were so little once. And it went too fast, those days when their tiny hands made prints all over my walls. I watch a video and hear their tiny voices; I remember, and I ache.

I ache; but for what? Do I want to go back?  At this moment, two sons watch a cowboy movie with dad; a daughter is discussing Algebra online with her teacher from England and friend from Nebraska; another daughter cleans the kitchen and sings. A frustrated son fights with his spelling homework, and the youngest plays piano upstairs; already he knows more than I do.  I look at these big kids and see what they have become, and I cannot wish it all undone.

And yet, I ache for when they were little. I wish I could know them as babies and as big kids all at once; to see the varied stages of their beauty wrapped up in the whole person in a way that transcends time. That wonderful toddler who wore cowboy boots with his shorts and always carried a slingshot-- is he really gone? It makes me sad to think that. Maybe he’s still somewhere inside the big kid. And maybe he’ll lie dormant for awhile, but someday when he has his own little daughter and she puts on cowboy boots and tries to ride her sled down the stairs, maybe that look in her eye will awaken that part of him, and he’ll forget to scold her, and he’ll join her instead.

On the screen: the littlest trying to walk, wearing those overalls that I used to grab from behind to make him “fly.” Oh babies, when I see you on the screen, in your tiny bodies, I want to hold you again. Did I hold you enough then?  And I wonder about the mommy behind the camera, the one laughing along. I wonder what you will remember about her.  I wonder where her heart was that day, and all the days.  I wonder… did she do ok?

The river beneath us keeps moving, and we ride it together (for now.) I want to ask the little ones on the screen; “Did I love you well? Did I do ok?”  but they’re too busy playing in sprinklers and wrestling the dogs to make time for my question.  Besides, we’re here now, not there. So I put my arm around the one nearest me, and we laugh as the yesterdays float by.  The days on the screen seem saturated with more grace than I remember; less exhaustion, more joy.

What is it that moves us forward?  Does a cruel river of time and fate push us along? Or are we carried, gently, by God; this God who pours out grace from heaven to carry us to heaven?

Tonight, they say goodnight while I work downstairs. “You don’t need to tuck us in, mom. Goodnight. Love you.”  And part of me almost got up to tuck them in anyway, as if tucking were an anchor that will keep them little and keep me young. Instead, I gave long hugs to each one, and then I sat down with my grateful ache.

Thank you God for yesterday.

And help me love them well today.

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