I was looking at some photos of my kids that almost shocked me out of time and place because they looked so old in the images. It was as if an old friend was showing me pictures of her kids and I felt the passage of years since we last connected. It's not completely like that but I do still catch myself waiting for life to return to how it had been. Then pulling myself back in to my new reality, so seemingly alien still and yet so much like a well-worn sweatshirt at the same time.
When I say I miss my old life, it really is an aching for youth. I'm aching for an innocence I can't regain. I'm craving the indulgence of time and the freedom to act however - wherever - whenever. I feel old even typing this but I'm not saying that I'm old; I'm saying that now it's too hard to ignore the passage of time. I see my kids grow daily - literally developing skills that will carry them through a lifetime of experiences. I see my mom's strong, able body folding after a lifetime and I find myself in the middle of it all. I'm in the thick of the human experience and yet I still feel like a young girl at times... but I'm not anymore. There are days when that pill gets caught in my throat.
Then there are moments that make the present entirely worth forfeiting the past. These moments can be planned, like an egg hunt on Easter morning, but they also arise entirely unexpected and remind me what is good and true and worth it.
Today was a beast. I had designs to go for a walk after getting blown off by a friend. It wasn't a big deal except I had already told my toddler that friends were coming over. Given that scenario, times can get tough (which is why I usually wait to tell her anyone is coming over until they are parked outside our house) and so we hit the road for some fresh air.
To be honest, I was bummed about the blow-off. I found myself waking up from a walking daze to a toddler screaming and crying for her daddy while riding her tricycle up the street. It had been three blocks of sheer torture, moving at the speed of 3, and I was using a complete and utter ignoring philosophy when it occurred to me that dogs were barking and she was probably torturing other people, inside their houses, as well. I told her she had to stop. She didn't. We made it home painfully slow in not the best light. My increasing frustration became obvious to my counterpart, who, after a nice snack, hugged me and asked in her own delightful way what was wrong? That was enough to pull me out of my mood. I explained (that I was crazy about my toddler screaming all morning, that I missed me and my old life, that I had too much time on my hands to think about things I would otherwise not even worry about, that I felt beaten today) that I was sad my friend didn't come over. I thought that was a fair lesson and good compromise for my internal monologue. The funny thing was, she already knew that's why I was sad, hence the hug, and I think she also advised, "sometimes that happens."
I read somewhere that kids worry as much about parents as parents worry about kids. It became true to me that day. It made me realize how quickly my little M was growing up. It made me remember how our time here is so brief and, even more so, how life stages are so fleeting. Sure we carry friends in to new phases and at times we break under the burden of something, but ultimately through it all we are lucky to have the emotional connections, good or bad, for as long as they last. Those pieces weave in to our story and carry us to the next moment.
M woke up from her nap that afternoon and said to me, "Mom, I'm sorry. I'm getting older." Anyone who knows the old girl, knows she continued into a diatribe, seemingly cognizant until I realize a few sentences later she was referencing a part of her current favorite movie and the initial thought had been derailed. I told her, "Don't apologize for getting older. It's something we all do; it's a good thing. That's how we grow and learn and love."
We do it alone and together. We do it with family and friends; happily and begrudgingly. We surprise ourselves and others. We carry on our backs the history we have created while we step in to the future with perpetual hope. There is no other way.