Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Box

It’s been sitting in the office for EVER! Yes, we have been in our remodel for three years now! I could trace my finger through the dust collecting on top. I never unpacked it …lazy..too busy…and I hate, absolutely hate to throw away memories; even the little mementos that remind me of a special event or a glimpse of the past. A memory hoarder. MH. I kept everything when I was little. I am happy to say that I still have some of the strange items from my treasure boxes. As I sorted through the myriad of what I like to call ‘crap’: erasers, glitter stickers, flavored chapsticks, basically everything you find on that $1 aisle at Target, I realized my kids are not comprised of this heap that is sitting in front of me anymore. In the years it has taken me to unpack the box, they have outgrown its contents. They are no longer the “Extreme Gymnastics is Awesome!” journal entry I found. They could care less about the list of everybody’s birthdays scribbled very orderly in a Hello Kitty notepad. And the Cruella De Ville autograph that I waited in line for an hour to get..yeah…you know…… at the bottom of the ‘Life Moves On’ crap box. You see, kids don’t care about the things that define them as ‘little’ like parents do. They have a goal and that is to be a ‘big kid’, ‘teenager’, a ‘grown-up’. That’s why I let them paint their rooms, define their ‘space’, and make their own life within the four walls they call ‘their room’. In fact, they don’t want that old stuff, and they don’t really want me around, unless of course they need a ride, money, food… I have lost my ‘Mommy Mojo’. Where at one time my height and strength (my most effective parenting tool) could restrain them into submission, they now tower over ME. I used to be able to tell them they were too little to sit in the front of the car; these are ‘rules’ made by policemen. Now, before we even grab our shoes to walk out the door all I hear is ‘Shot gun!’, ‘No, I already called it’, ‘Mom, He had it yesterday!. (Of course I do not react to this daily murmuring..this white noise). I know this ‘front seat’ prize has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the stereo. In fact, as fights erupt in our daily commute, I use that stereo as a weapon. Lady GaGa Warfare. If I’m REALLY mad, I turn it off!!! Gasp! Grunts! A lot of “How could you??!!”; that’s my favorite mean mommy tool! But, back to the box, as they have grown up I see less and less of the traces of their childhood. If only I knew how to decode their passwords and shuffle through their phones, because that is where their childhood memories are now. No more scribbles. No more cursive practice notes. No more play dough animals hardening to the point of cracking. Welcome, phone bills and the social network. That damn box made me realize that my kids may have outgrown the past, but I haven’t! Now you know WHY I didn’t want to open that box; that Pandora’s Box. So I go about working in my office, chauffeuring the car, cooking the meals, folding their laundry, picking up their rooms, as well as the dog poop in the yard. I am almost invisible. Almost. I’ve learned a very important tool to get me through these next years. It doesn’t involve manipulation. Or coercion. It’s called ‘listening’. They don’t need to spend ALL their time with me. God knows they are ‘busy’ little people. They don’t need to keep their bedroom doors open. They need their privacy. They don’t need the clean white walls in ‘their space’; paint it purple, and black, and red. It’s about them now, not me! They don’t need to dress the way that I used to ‘prepare’ them when they are little. They are not Barbie Dolls. They are their own unique person. They don’t need to make little art pieces to say they love me; they are to busy making and re-making themselves. I adjust to what they want to become. I guide them and offer them MY opinion, and hope that they eventually decide on ‘something in between’. I try to tell them that I have never been the mother of a teenager before, so bear with me; I am bound to make mistakes. We all do. So I follow them around collecting mementos that I think they will appreciate one day when they are older, with their own children. The things that will remind them of this very short, very precious time. A time when the whole family is alive and well. A time when family gatherings didn’t involve getting off of work, or driving hundreds of miles to get to them. I’m reminded of a Trace Adkins song that says,
“You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this”.
And so they don’t ‘miss’ it, I continue to collect their memories for them. I pick through the memories in that big brown box and move the memories to a more secure place in the back of my closet in a NEW box. I’ll open it from time to time. I’ll be reminded of how much they’ve grown. And someday when I’m gone they will finally be thankful that mom was a hoarder. A hoarder of their lives.

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