As I enter my thirty-third year of life, I find myself more and more reminiscent. More and more longing for time to slow down just a bit. This moment right now is ending. These words on this page are written. Yesterday is over. Today is winding down. And here I am wishing that I could bottle up every memory, every scent, every tongue twisted word that my children speak.
The truth is, I am already starting to forget what my childhood was like. Will they forget theirs as well? Will my daughter not remember this moment, as she curls herself onto my lap while I type? Will she not remember how I weave my fingers through the snarls in her hair gently as she tells me about her day?
I still remember the way my mother use to pet my head when I was sick. Sure, my parents weren't perfect- no parents are. But they provided me with love- simple, raw and honest love. They weren't very sentimental people, we never relished in flowery affirmations or emotional conversations- but we shared a common, unspoken agreement that love does not have to be flaunted to be strong. Love does not have to be shouted from the rooftops to be heard -- or rather, felt.
We weren't poor, but we certainly weren't extravagant. While my best friends vacationed in lavish hotels and pristine sailboats, we stayed nestled in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire in a worn down, raggedy trailer. And I wouldn't trade it for the world. I spent my summers barefoot catching salamanders, singing songs with my father while we hiked, pretending I didn't love riding in his canoe fishing (even though I really did), and lounging in the grass with my mom as the sun kissed our tan skin.
I remember moments growing up when I didn't feel good enough though. One time, after telling a classmate that we "camped in a trailer during the summer" I was greeted with a snarl of distaste. She seemed less than impressed and I wondered why. Was my life not as glittery as the next? Was there something I was missing?
As years passed by, there were moments of embarrassment as I learned that maybe my family was a little bit different than the average family in our town-- too modest, perhaps. While my friends had brand new Berkenstocks, I wore Walmart knockoffs. While my girlfriends twirled in their brand new prom dresses, I clawed through their closets to find something I could borrow. While many of my classmates drove new cars, I hopped in my old Chevy Prism that literally shook while it drove. And while others spent their summers in quaint Cape Cod cottages, I returned to the that old trailer in the woods.
And now? Well, I am a bit ashamed that I once felt less-than others. Because now I can see how unimportant material things are. Now, I can see that my parents weren't poor or selfish, but rather they valued what was important in life-- each other. They didn't need possessions or proclamations to show their worth. They didn't need to buy us new shiny shoes to declare their love for us. Instead, they celebrated us everyday -- simply and authentically by just being there for us; tucked away in a teeny trailer, shoulder to shoulder, in the midst of summer heat, laughing, roasting marshmallows, and looking across the campfire to see the faces of the people who matter most.
I experienced a simple and absolutely flawless childhood. It was magic.
So now, as my thirties continue on without reserve and my laugh lines deepen, and my children grow before my eyes, I try to remember the magic of an authentic childhood.
I do not want to get caught up in giving them the shiniest toys or the most luxurious vacations, although sometimes the world still makes me feel as though I should.
I try to resist the temptation to spoil them with possessions and to remember that is more important to mother them with my whole heart rather than my whole wallet.
Because right here, right now, there is enough love in our house to make it a home. Right now is fleeting. Right now will never survive. The days are passing and my children are creating childhoods that I want them to look back on with pride. More than anything, I want them to have deep-rooted contentment, knowing that their lives were full to the brim. I want their cups to runneth over with goodness. Someday, when I am no longer here with them, I want them to look back and remember a childhood that did not emphasize the stuff, but rather the people.
My parents taught me that.