Have you ever had a moment so pure that you never wanted it to end? I had one the other day. And it's stuck in my head, like that catchy pop tune I keep hearing on the radio that I hated but now I secretly love.
I was running errands with my kids last weekend. It started with a rare trip to the bookstore to actually buy a book. We're 99% library people but a percentage of the sales from books purchased that weekend were going to benefit the kids' school.
Then we headed off to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients to make cookies with later that afternoon. We were almost home when I realized we had forgotten to pick up pasteurized eggs to use when making cookies later that afternoon so they could eat the dough and I wouldn't have to worry about salmonella poisoning.
So we stopped one more time at another grocery store near our house. I left the two kids in the car for the few minutes it took for me to run in to the store. (Don't worry they're old enough, at almost 14 years old and 11.) And I was in and out of the store quickly because they didn't have the pasteurized eggs. But as I approached the car, I saw something that made me stop.
It was as if time had stood still all around me except for inside of the car. They didn't see me but I could see them. My son sitting in the front seat, mouth moving, as always, and laughing. My daughter reaching over the seat to touch her brother, not to hit him but for emphasis, and laughing as well. Animated conversation. I don't know how long I stood there. It couldn't have been more than a few minutes but it felt like forever. And I didn't want to move. I just wanted to savor the moment.
But my son saw me. Smiled and waved and the moment was over.
We went home and made the cookies. They ate the dough even though it wasn't pasteurized and no one got sick. The cookies were great. And life went on.
But I still keep going back to that moment. I'm a sucker these days for sentimentality and there was something just so perfect about those few minutes. At this age, my kids are changing so fast and sometimes I just want time to stop or at least slow down.
This year, my son has grown taller than me. There's no turning back on that one. And while I always knew that he would be, the reality of it is still kind of shocking. He's going to high school next year. High school. I'm not that old and neither is he. Well, I guess he is. He's showing signs of maturity. Finally. Shaking people's hands when he meets them and looking them in the eye. Starting to understand how life works.
And my daughter is half way through her first year of middle school. Her transition has been smooth as silk. Feet as big as mine though I still have her on the height thing. And probably will for a while longer. But her physical change has started. Long legs, a few curves and a body that's getting some hormonal ups and downs. But she told me the other day that I was her role model and she wasn't joking. Though she is still one of the funniest people I know.
But other than going by too fast, 2010 was a great year for me. And for my family. Many adventures, lots of love and happiness. There were some tears, some hand wringing over whether or not I'm being the best I can be: parent, wife, friend and writer. But that's just life.
So on this last day of 2010, as I get ready to clean my house for tonight just to have it get messy again, I realize that's what life is like. All clean and straightened up until the first person tracks in dirt or spills chocolate milk on the kitchen floor. Or you get divorced and remarried. Or my husband cooks an absolutely fabulous New Year's Eve feast and uses every pot, pan and dish in the cupboards.
But then you just clean it up again. Because a house that's always clean is one that isn't lived in. At least lived in the right way. Life is messy and there's no way to avoid the mess so you might as well enjoy making it.
Tomorrow morning, I'll probably wake up with a little headache, come downstairs and clean again. And the annual cycle will start over. I hope it's a messy year. For all of us.
Happy New Year!
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