As I was on my usual walk through the eucalyptus trees, I noticed an abandoned play structure in a backyard, overgrown with weeds and sticks and leaves. It made me think about that family whose kids are now running around soccer fields, texting their friends and rolling their eyes at the people who gave them life. The once beloved play structure now just a keeper of memories from the wonder years, a symbol of time flying by.
This time of year always makes me feel like I’m not doing enough. I get paralyzed by the fast pace and overwhelm. Instead of embracing it, I want to run away. Every year we end the holiday season saying, “We’re not doing that again!”. Our hearts begging for boundaries and for us to take control of our time.
I’ve been feeling a little down since Thanksgiving, tired and ready for life to slow down or for me to catch up. This year is especially off since the holidays are highlighting the alternate universe we are living in, the one where my dad wasn’t the one to put up our Christmas lights or straighten the tree. The one where he’s not sitting in his office, leaning back in his chair and enjoying the extra-hot chai tea latte we surprised him with.
While making Christmas traditions with our kids this year, I am remembering all of the magical seasons of my childhood. Shopping for a tree with my dad, carefully mounting Rudolph on the second story, and making candy cane shaped cookies with my mom. As I pause to remember more clearly, I can also see us shoving the tree through the front door with my dad covered in sap as he sneezed uncontrollably from allergies. Oh and the time he fell off the ladder right in front of me. Or how mad my mom would get when our candy cane cookies looked more like penises (who am I kidding, we are still not mature enough to make normal candy cane cookies).
Memories are funny that way, often shinier than they were in the moment. The reason older women always tell you to enjoy every second with your precious babies. (I will never be one of those women.)
If things are going to look better than they really are a few years down the line, I might as well lighten up a bit. Lessen the expectations I carry around like a scarlet letter on an ugly Christmas sweater. What if the biggest boundaries I need to set are within myself, changing my perspective and doing some good old fashioned positive thinking with a sprinkle of gratitude. Give equal air time to the good things and not just focus on the challenging.
In this moment, my babies are just two slippery, delicious butter balls in the bathtub. When that tub and these years become just a flash of memories, what will I remember?