Friday, December 19, 2008

Life is What Happens...

It's only been since my daughter Alex was born that I really began realizing that I needed to pay more attention to the passage of life.

I embarrassingly admit that during my 20's I was a self absorbed idiot. I had children in my 20's. Self absorption and parenting do not mesh well.
In my early 30's I was fighting my way out of a bad marriage. With shame I admit that there are spaces of time during the period of my divorce where I have no recall at all of what my children were doing.

When Eric and I decided to have Alex, I had already experienced for a few years, a happy and solid relationship and stability for the first time in my life. I seemed to "grow up" immensely in a very short time.

When Alex came along, I had matured enough and gained just enough wisdom to realize that this was my last shot. I was getting a beautiful opportunity to finally pay attention.

I've stayed home with Alex for four years now and although it is a difficult thing at times to be a constant companion to a toddler, it is also the most wonderful thing in the world. I relish the moments with her, realizing that each moment that passes is a moment I won't get back. I cherish this opportunity to be present and aware as a parent.
Sometimes I look at my three older children and wonder who they are. Of course, I know they're my children, but I feel that I missed out on so much of their lives. It's horrible, I know.

So fact the majority of my life that was spent raising my older children was also spent in a raging war of a relationship. I was constantly upset, there was always fighting and I spent so much precious time trying everything in my power to make someone love me who wasn't capable of love. I spent thousands of hours trying to keep a marriage from falling apart that
should have never been together in the first place. And in the meantime, my children grew.

Now I look at them and wonder. I wonder at how they survived me.

My fifteen year old son gave flowers to a girl for the first time today. He spent his own money and carried them to school in a vase for her. I drove him to the store and waited in the car while he went in to buy them. Sitting in the car, I had a lump in my throat.

This boy also bought a big Hershey's Kiss and put it in a gift bag and then filled the rest of the bag with caramel Hershey's Kisses because his girl had said that caramel Kisses were her favorite.

My son listened to his girlfriend and then bought her a gift he knew she'd like. Then he went the extra mile and threw in some roses.

How did this dopey little boy that used to wear bowls on his head, turn into this young man who listens to girls and makes grand gestures?

I am a schmo for not having paid more attention to how he arrived here.

My attempt at redemption is to try with all my heart to pay attention now. I'm not a great emotional communicator and it has always been difficult for me to be overtly gushy. But I'm trying really hard to be much better about showing them I love them and about spending more time paying attention to the daily stuff their lives are made of.

My kids and I talk and we laugh. I think Ben thinks I'm a little goofy and Abby finds me downright embarrassing. Charli knows I love her but we still seem to struggle a little. She unfortunately had the longest exposure to the toxic waste that was my marriage to her father. I suffer much guilt when I see her struggle emotionally over things.

Alex...well...Alex is the product of a terribly happy healthy relationship. She tells me she loves me a hundred times a day. She reads my emotions and knows how to respond. She remembers everything I tell her and we tell and re-tell the story of her birthday to each other all of the time. She tells me happily that "daddy cried because he was SOOOOO happy!"

I vow to myself and to all of my children that the rest of my life as their mother will be spent paying attention. The people I love the most are the music of my life. Everything else is just background noise.


Jennie................ said...

very touching Amy. Thanks for sharing.

Jeff Martin said...

Amy, I enjoyed reading your comments and I think you hit the nail on the head with this one:

"The people I love the most are the music of my life. Everything else is just background noise."


Amy said...

Thanks, Jennie & Jeff! I appreciate it. It's a tough row to hoe, this thing called Parenthood, isn't it?!