I miss my daughters. I may have mentioned that once or several hundred times over the past fifteen months or so. The pandemic certainly has stripped away the clutter and allowed us to see the pieces of our life that matter the most. My daughter shared such a story this morning. She was tucking her seven-year-old into bed the night before and shared with him her nervousness about stepping in as principal at another school on very short notice due to a health emergency of the current administrator. She was excited though anxious, glad for the opportunity, but she told Linden he would have to be helpful in the morning and efficient in getting ready for school so that she could get out the door on time and without too much anxiety. He nodded and went off to sleep. In the morning, Aimee’s alarm went off at five o’clock and she dragged herself from bed and went to her kitchen in search of coffee, the magic elixir, and started readying her day. She heard Linden shuffling around upstairs and he soon came down dressed, with teeth brushed, while announcing he had fed his fish. He woke up remembering his mother’s plea and stepped up to the plate, assumed the role of independence and got himself ready without reminding, all in an effort to ease the start of his mother’s day. He came down the stairs looking as if he had just won Olympic gold, his hands over his head, a huge smile on his face. He was wearing a pair of jogging pants that were two sizes too big for him that had been loaned to him at daycare after an unfortunate spilling kind of catastrophe. His socks were on with the heels on top of his feet and his shirt was on backwards, but he had it going on. He was king of his castle and Aimee didn’t have the heart to bring attention to his questionable attire. He happily went out the door to school looking like a homeless person but oh so proud. Aimee asked him if he wanted to adjust anything about his clothing, but he assured her he was all set to go. This is highlight reel stuff. And it got me thinking.
The highlight reel of our lives differs from one person to the next, but the essence of the content is often the same. When we look back on raising our children and being new parents and trying to do our best, we focus on those moments when our children found themselves, when they shone from the inside out, when they discovered they could do something on their own, when they were closer to understanding who they were and who they wanted to be and how they fit into their world. I remember those moments for my daughters when they accomplished something they didn’t think they could, something that at one time seemed too big to conquer. Each occasion made me cry then and makes me cry now, but happy crying, the kind of happy that doesn’t come in a box or on a hanger but comes from the recognition that our children are fine human beings, they know what matters, they know that kindness out plays any and all challengers, they know that helping a friend or stranger when the opportunity presents itself is the stuff of life, the moments that really matter.
Parenting isn’t easy and I’m sure we all had days when we imagined filling our children’s pockets with corn and throwing them in the pigpen, but the beauty of looking back on it from a position of past tense, is all that shines through is the highlight reel and it’s a beautiful thing. It keeps me warm on cold days, helps me fall asleep on restless nights, and comforts me that I played a small role in getting it right.