Kids fed and happily parked in front of the tv this morning, I went back to bed for a bit to see if I could steal some snuggle-time with John. When I got in bed, Scout was stretched out alongside him, groaning contentedly, with no intention of moving, ever. Figuring a warm, black hairy body was as good as I was going to get just then, I hopped in and she army-crawled her way over to my side and flopped down for a snug.
Scratching behind her ears and giving her little nuzzles, I looked in her eyes, and just for a second, she looked like a puppy again. Her eyes were twinkling behind her velvety ears, and she had that old innocent puppy look, that, “I know I just ate your favorite shoes and an entire loaf of bread you stupidly left out, but look at me. Have you ever seen anyone so cute?” She’s not an Old Dawg, but she’s about to turn five, which I think is the cutoff for Labs not being naughty puppies anymore. She’s a great girl. The best.
I realized, then, the same thing happens with my children sometimes. Sassy will be going about her sparkly way, and I catch her deep in thought or concentrating on painting her nails, or coloring. Her face is completely relaxed, and the new slimness that five brought gives way to a hint of the old chub, just for a second, and she looks like three again. Glorious three, when I could have eaten her cheeks whole and give her unlimited raspberries just to hear her giggle nonstop.
Catching that inner baby in Big B is a little more difficult. At the ripe old age of eight, it’s harder to catch his former plumpness, especially because it didn’t last well into toddlerhood to begin with. It’s there though, when his eyes twinkle in a certain way, sometimes just for a second I can see that two-toothed grin, the line of drool down to his chest, his sparkling blue eyes, and hear that fantastic laugh he’s had since he was four months old, from his belly to his head and cascading forth. When he weighed 15 pounds or so, it would shake his entire body. Is there anything better than body-shaking laughter?
So where does that leave the shadow of my former self? Considering my babies are way closer to their babyhood than I am to my twenties, it leaves my former self buried deep. I have tiny lines in my face that I swear were not there before my last birthday, and I’ve suddenly developed more than a passing interest in products that Reduce the Appearance of Fine Lines and Minimize Pores. Not that I’m So Terribly Vain, but occasionally I look in the mirror thinking, “What the Bloody Hell? Where did SHE come from? And WHY IS MY MAKEUP NOT COVERING HER UP??” I’m not boarding the Pity Express here, it’s just a simple fact: I am aging. As is everyone. My children are aging, my mom is aging (don’t even get me started on the number of times she’s said or done something and I thought, “Holy Dippity-Do, Batman, it’s my Grandmother,”) and I, of course, am aging too. I’m in a great place, I have a fantastic husband and the two best children in the world. We have blessings galore, but that doesn’t erase the fact that I have crow’s feet and ‘medium-sized pores’ according to the saleswoman at Clinique. My former self? She’s living in the Caribbean somewhere, eating seafood and wearing a bikini.
Don’t mistake this for a ‘woe is me’ whinefest. Every birthday my children celebrate brings new and fascinating milestones, talents and insight. They’re growing into amazing people, even as I bemoan the passing of their babyhood. Kindergarten registration paperwork was waiting for me in Sassy’s preschool cubby the other day, and don’t think for a minute I didn’t get choked up. Big B has finally realized his height is an asset when playing basketball, and he scored six shots last week in his game. They’re great kids, and my lame expressions of gratitude and thankfulness for them are only the tip of my personal blessing iceberg.
All the same, former selves are welcome visitors. I don’t need much help remembering my babies as babies, but every so often it’s nice to see, even on a subconscious level, they haven’t forgotten them either.
This has been brought to you by “Deep Thoughts” by Jack Handey. Regular posting resumes next time, more in the typical vein of dead pet fish and colonoscopies.