Today my 4 year old daughter put on a very stylish new dress from her Nana, a racer-back teal tank with a wide black elastic belted waist and layered blue leopard print on bottom. For a moment, I felt like I could picture her as a teenager ready to go out with her friends and leave her Mom and Dad behind. And while I am so grateful that I have years ahead of me before that day comes, I can’t believe that time seems to fly by in so many ways. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I had a home and a life and a daily routine in Germany? And not more than a week ago that our family consisted of me, Brian and our dog, Biltmore. And college, 9 years ago I graduated??? IMPOSSIBLE! It wasn’t that long ago that it was me leaving the house in the most trendiest of fashions to hang out with my friends. I can remember going on my first real date with a boy, who drove! (We saw When a Man Loves a Woman at the dollar theaters :), funny.) Hard to believe that I am closer in years to experiencing that with my own daughter than I am to my own experience!
My Great Grandma Sullivan was very special to me. She called me majom, which means monkey in Hungarian and I would respond, “I am not a majom, I am a jo lany”. Which means good girl, or so I think. She didn’t really remember very much Hungarian, but after always calling me majom, I started looking things up in her English-Hungarian dictionary. I remember so clearly being at her house and I must have commented on how she was getting old. She told me that she didn’t feel like she was old. I said, “Grandma, how old do you feel?” And she responded, “Well, I feel the same as you.” “WHAT? Grandma, I’m 24! You can’t feel 24, you don’t even like to drive the freeways and you need to take the cart in the store so that you have something to hold onto. You are in your late 80’s, you can’t feel my age.” I just recently shared this story with someone, and I can finally understand a little of what my grandma felt. Her 20’s felt like yesterday. It was yesterday that she was raising her kids and working at the beauty shop. I am always thinking about the grandmas in my life when I see kids and am amazed by how much they have grown. I felt like as a kid that was just the thing grandparents said, “My how you’ve grown!” It was equivalent to “How are you?”, but now I am sure that they really truly meant it. My four year old impresses me all the time with how big she has gotten. I sometimes feel like she doesn’t even need me! If it weren’t for the food on the table and the roof over her head that we provide, I am pretty sure she could handle life (or at least thinks she could) on her own. And Tatum! She has now entered toddlerhood, I guess. I don’t know if there is an exact age for that sort of thing, but last year as we were camping around Europe, she was a tiny babe who slept in a stroller bassinet.
It is tough to remember in those moments of anger and frustration when those little children, who are so lovingly called “blessings” seem more like a migraine than a blessing, a pain that just don’t go away. It is tough to remember that this season is short. Soon enough they are in school and soon after that they don’t want to hang out with the family. And so, I am trying to embrace them even as they are testing us and seeing how they can claim their independence in this big thing called, life. Trying to see this as an opportunity to shape then and engage with them on their journey instead of counting the days until this phase ends. Each phase is welcomed by a new one and each phase has it’s pluses and minuses. You are so happy when your little one is out of diapers, but it just means that you have also phased out rocking your baby to sleep in your arms. The memories I have of my childhood are memories of me playing and having a carefree life. I want to my kids to have those same kinds of memories and I want to be part of them. I don’t want to be too busy because the clock is ticking and soon enough the toy kitchen and doll house are going to be replaced with headphones and iPads. And I will be thinking to myself that it was just yesterday that the girls were playing dolls in here.