Of the *many* things that I have not gotten right as a parent, and of the *many* things that I feel guilty for - the worst of most of them is that I have not put The Boy's photos into an album since he was 6 months old.... and I have NEVER put The Girl's in an album yet.
Or printed them out.
Yes... you read that right.
Sure, sure.... I make the holiday card and I make prints for the walls, but, so far as printing small pictures or putting them into an album.... nope. Nada. Not a ONE. Sigh.
I have them all.... over 100GB of images saved onto my computer and (almost all) backed up onto an external harddrive... which, in a photographers world is about as 'safe' as dangling a million dollars from a ceiling and over an open flame... eventually: it's all gonna go up in flames.
So, with all this extra time I have on my hands (you know, because five hours of sleep at night was feeling just a tad too indulgent) - I thought I should start working on the kids photo books so that I can have them printed and not worry so much about losing the images. I want to make digital books so that I can write comments and stories with certain photos, or certain days -and I found out a long time ago that you can actually download your facebook wall - did you know that?
Well, you can. You can download you ENTIRE facebook - photos and comments and EVERY SINGLE POST that you ever made, from facebook to your computer. This is *fanFUCKINGtastic* because I have facebooked every single day since The Girl was born and probably a yearish before that - so that's A LOT of life alllll recorded there in black and white.
facebook for the win.
I have always felt like time and life were slipping through my fingers faster that I would have liked...... I can remember being in London when I was 19 and .... those days were hard. Really hard. I was coming to terms with the ..... person my biological father was (I moved there to get to know him and his family) - and I was desperately alone when a month into living with him, I ended up moving out to a hostel in Camden. I didn't know anyone.... not a single soul (outside of my dysfunctional relationship with my bio-Dad and his family), and I didn't have a single penny to my name.
Literally. Not one fucking sterling pound or pence. But I got a job at the McDonalds on the High Street and lived on soup and pasta and free grapes from the grocer outside our flat. (I had the shits.... A LOT. lol)
I was, emotionally spent and damaged and I was lonely and sad..... so sad. But, I would stand outside the door to the hostel that was lower than the street level with black wrought iron bars over it's heavily painted blue surface and I would run my hand over the curves of the bars and I would close my eyes and focus on the rounded edges of the cobble stone under my feet and I would just stop. I would stop and breathe in the dank smell of urine and urban life and Camden market and I would think to myself: I WANT to remember this. When I'm old and grey and dying... or when I'm a Mom with kids and a life... or where I am in the future: I want to remember THIS. This time. This place. This MOMENT, so that I don't take it for granted. So that I don't lose the importance and the motherfucking MAGIC of being 19 years old and living in MOTHERFUCKING LONDON.... to the desperate loneliness and sadness that I felt at the time.
After that I would frequently stop - backstage at a show I was working, lying on the top bunk in a tour bus, at a dinner party with friends, walking along Sauciehall Street or Argyle Street or sitting in the tiny wee park in Leicester Square: close my eyes and just breathe in the moment and *promise* myself not to forget all those little amazing moments that make up our life, but pass by us so quickly at the same time.
When I had The Boy, I thought A LOT about how fast the time was going. About how life changes and people grow up and grow old and how now.... ALL THOSE TIMES that my Mom would stand in the kitchen and just ask for a hug... and how I would, in all my 16 year old 'coolness', and throw an errant arm around her quickly and then dash out the door to my friends waiting in the honking car: because I didn't understand..... then. When you're a teeenager you dont' understand the *journey* your parents have been on to get you to this place - this place where slamming doors and angry words and breaking curfews now fill the place where hugs and kisses and hours of playing together on the floor and tea parties of 'air' once were..... Because now, as a Mom spoiled with tiny little baby hands that held me and hugged me and held onto me for *dear life*..... I understood that those same hands would grow up and stop holding onto me no matter how hard I wanted to keep my grip on them......
Because that's what kids do.... they grow up.
Man..... kids kind of suck.
So I would just sit and be grateful.
I would hold those baby hands with their sweet dimpled knuckles and trace the fingers as they interlaced with mine. I would kiss them and smell them and tell my heart and my mind to never forget them......
I would go to bed every night with The Boy's head placed over the top of my arm which would wind down and I would hold his feet in my hands.
Months rolled by and I would keep holding those feet and waiting for the day when those feet grew past my hands and I could no longer hold onto them.
And it came.
But I still cradled him in my arm.... every single night until The Girl was born.
Now the reality of that 'Hallmark' moment is that, more often than not, I woke up soaked in spit up or pee..... but, as I looked over my facebook wall...... I would post all the time - how I had woken up to a smiling giggling baby and a bed with a 'mystery wet spot'.... and how I was so grateful for both because you can't have one with out the other.
I did SO WELL at finding those little moments to try and train my brain to *never forget* those baby curls and first rolls and first words and first moments and first days of school..... but as the days turn into weeks and months and years... I see a picture of the kids as babies and I'm instantly aware of how much I DON'T remember.
I have blogged before about my Goodwill Christmas.... and I am so grateful NOW that I didn't waste that year being angry that we didn't have enough money to buy fancy stuff... I just focused on making it as good as I could and being happy with what we had..... and how that turned out to be one of the only Christmas's that The Girl would have with both her parents sitting under the tree together and how NOW... it was so much about being happy and 'making do'.... NOW that Christmas has such a larger meaning for the children.
A meaning and an importance I could have never planned for or seen coming......
Today's Blog is a challenge for you.
If you're anything like me.... you're running around, plying the kids with movies and cookies to stay in the living room so you can keep cooking.
You're knee deep in Comet cleaner and sweating your ass off because it seems like the more you clean - the bigger the mess everyone else in the house is CURRENTLY making... rendering your sweating/cleaning nearly useless.....
You're dashing out to stores and counting pennies and wondering how many deals you can snake on Black Friday.....
And.... if you're *really* like me at all... then you're raising your voice and sending overly excited children who are brimming with joy and teeming with anticipation for the holidays which is boiling over and getting the way of you GETTING THINGS DONE.... dammit.... to their rooms, or time out..... because in family and the in-laws and the neighbors or a co-worker are allllll coming over and by fucking GAWD you want to have one of the most, bestest Pintrestest Thanksgivings on the damn planet...... because that's what we've sold ourselves.
Images of Moms in tightly fitted sweaters and pearls and hair swept up with an apron tied at the waist.... and a husband who lights candles and carves the turkey and crazy relatives bringing nasty things like marshmallow jello molds....
Threaten time out.... less.
May be even cook less..... certainly, if you're stressed out and freaking out and brandishing wooden spoons covered in batter as weapons to small children running through the living room.... don't worry about making those cute cupcakes that look like turkey's with the nutter-butter shoved through the middle.
Just.... fuck it.
Make regular old cupcakes.... if time is getting away from you and you're losing those moments that MATTER to bullshit and picture-perfect standards that don't matter..... just let yourself stop.
The truth is, this could be your last something.....
May be this will turn into the last Thanksgiving you had before so-and-so got diagnosed with Cancer.... or someone died in a tragic accident.... may be it'll be the last year your Grandparents are here with you, or may be your kid is going off to college and NEXT YEAR, he'll be going to his girlfriend/boyfriends house on the East Coast..... aliens could invade the planet, pillage your home and we could all be living underground wondering if John Carter is *really* coming.... or, may be your husband will run off with a 22 year old..... who the fuck knows.
May be it's the last Thanksgiving of YOUR marriage....
If that's the case, and some kind of life changing event happens .... trust me.... FUCKING TRUST ME.... those Pintrest Turkey cupcakes will be the LAST thing you remember... but probably the thing you spent the most time on.... so don't do it.
Don't waste time you could spending holding your own Grandmother's hand, tracing the wrinkles between her fingers and listening to stories about USO dances and the war and living life on a budget..... just so that you can make sure the bathroom is cleaner.
Anyone who cares that you're toilet isn't 'clean enough' but it coming over for Thanksgiving dinner.... isn't really your friend.... just sayin.
Don't spend your time rushing and yelling and being annoyed that your husband isn't 'doing enough' to help you - because all he wants to do is sit and watch the game and enjoy the day and you want to get out the fancy holiday dishes and you forgot they were buried in the attic and now he has to climb up there and spend the afternoon digging them out..... fuck it: eat on paper plates. Just, eat together.
That's all that really matters.... just being together.
GIVE YOURSELF THE GIFT OF SAYING.... fuck it.
Cook your dinner and spend time with your family and give yourself countless chances to STOP and close your eyes and take it all in..... the smell of turkey juice burning on the oven floor, the feel of flour between your fingers, the sound - THE GLORIOUS FUCKING SOUND - of your children fighting in the living room because your son DOES NOT want to watch Sophia The First for the hundredth time that day.....
Because whatever happens down the road..... you'll remember that day, that time, when you *were* altogether, in your dysfunction and not-as-clean-as-you-want-it-to-be-house.... and even if it feels like it wasn't 'perfect' in that moment and at that time.... life could re-define for you what perfect is and you might just remember that day and that time as the most whole, perfect moment of your life..... burning rolls, fighting kids, lazy husband and all.......
Tomorrow I'll be waking up to the woman I love.
Writing Thankful notes to the kids on the bathroom mirror.
We might shower... we might not. I might brush their hair... well... probably I'll brush their hair.
We're having cereal and milk and then dashing out the door to use a GROUPON a client gave me to take the kids to see FROZEN... where we will eat shared popcorn out of our dollar store popcorn buckets, and drink water bottles I bought at Walmart and tucked into the band of my jeans and snuck into the theater.
I will be GRATEFUL when we sit Boy - Hail Mary - Girl - Me - because everyone rights over who gets to sit next to Hail Mary and not me... lol.
I will give The Girl the matching doll to the movie that I bought with a Toys R Us card that a client 'paid' me with... so she can hold the doll while watching the movie.
Then we will take the kids to El Capitan's house for a few hours while Hail Mary and I get to spend some time together.... then we will go to The Bubbie and The Papa's house.... and I'm not going to stress out about what time we get there and what we're wearing and what we're bringing and blah blah blah.......
I'm going to stop as many times as I want and just take in the voices and the sounds and the smell of the day... and just be Thankful for what I have and grateful for the people in my life.
I hope you do, too.