We sent out the Cappers’ birthday invites yesterday and it suddenly hit me that she’s nearly ten. Cue enormous quantities of nostalgia. My Cappers has always been a delightful kid to parent and her first decade really snuck up on me. At least, I think that’s true. I don’t know any more.
I had a three kids in about four years and Max was all of 18 months when Cappers came along. It was physically, emotional, spiritually and unquestionably demanding on a good day. If you’d asked me at the time what parenting was like, I would have told you that it was a relentless battle that shot me down most days. Parenting felt like I was sludging knee-deep in mud while someone bounced a tennis ball off the side of my head in time to a blaring Kenny Rogers soundtrack sung by The Chipmunks. I did not win most days.
Hindsight has changed all that.
Now I get all nostalgic for the little moments. A small hand slipping into mine. The weightlessness of a babe in arms. The smell of freshly-washed child. Tickled giggles and squawks. Little feet squeezing into tiny leather shoes and cotton fabrics washed soft and fluid.
When I look back on my children’s younger years, there is a pale, sunshiney glow to everything and where my childhood ends and theirs begins I cannot be certain. My children’s laughter peals like the high notes on a piano and my own presence is sturdy and kind. If I yelled, its echo has been rendered barely audible. If I tripped up, I’ve landed safely with my children in my arms.
More than that, my hindsight days feel luxuriously untethered and undemanding, minutes tick-tocking into hours into days into weeks into years into now. Unlike the living of them, those hours and days and years feel comforting and full, not overwhelming nor empty in the slightest. When I’m looking back, not once do I feel myself despair that the years stretch endlessly before us, fragile and knowable, the same old same old. The same old is welcome, here in hindsight.
I try to hold onto the realness of raising kids – the solid twak of that tennis ball hitting head – but mostly I cannot. Like liquid dreams, the rawness of parenting seems to float away on life’s tide. Here, but only in words, barely at all in memory. Hindsight has washed it all clean.
Even today, when I’m living the rawness and moments often seem untenable, the lovely telescope of hindsight turns backwards and reminds me that moments are riches when they are good and forgotten when they’re bad. Moments tick along, regardless of how we feel about them, and eventually they leave and leave memories in their place. Memories whose power washes moments into something treasured and collectable.
So, all in all, as I sit here and reflect on a girl’s first ten years and a mother’s attempts to guide them, I can only conclude that parenting is best in hindsight. Sometimes, ofttimes, only remotely bearable in hindsight. Hindsight gives us the true gift of parenting – all children become good children and we are left with a feeling of having done something good. For the proud moments stay true and the moments we regret are gone, lost forever, if we let them go. Only when we let them go.
Do you enjoy the ‘everyday’ parenting?
Would you agree that hindsight is a beautiful thing?