Friday, August 14, 2009
The More Things Change, the More Things Stay the Same
"I know it's hard to believe, but I was young once."
"It seems like just yesterday that I was living this same moment."
"How can twelve years go by so quickly?"
In the last several weeks, it seems like sentences like these have been running through my mind and coming off my lips on a regular basis. And I've been having what I like to call "Full Circle" moments.
Full Circle moments are those moments that make you stop and reflect on how life really does come full circle at different times.
They come when you are getting ready to walk down the aisle and you think back to when you were a child and what you may have thought about your wedding day.
They come when you look at your first newborn and you realize that your own mother must have felt the same way you do at that moment.
They come when you hear a song on the radio and you say to yourself (as I did not long ago, as I heard "Keep on Loving You" by REO Speedwagon), "That still makes me think of Crush X" (in my case: a boy I had a serious crush on in ninth grade). Or when you eat a snack cake and it makes you think of your lunchbox in 1978. Or when you are reminded of the time you went to see "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" with your three best friends.
But in the last couple of weeks or so, these Full Circle moments have felt even more powerful. And I guess it has to do with the nature of where my life is right now. When you have a seventeen-year-old (thinking about love and college and the future), thirteen-year-old (a new teenager), and five-year-old (yep, a new kindergartener), you are talking about true Full Circle moments on an almost daily basis.
One of the ones that really challenged me recently came when McKenna and her boyfriend broke up about a month ago.
Do you remember thinking that certainly your parents never actually dated? Or that they most certainly couldn't feel the kind of love you feel?
Well, that's what I call a real Full Circle moment. I could look into McKenna's face and know that she probably thought the same thing about me and Gary. I could say to her, "I really do know how you feel right now" and "Time's gonna take care of this, I can promise you," but she really didn't seem to "get it" at first.
Seeing McKenna feel the pain of what I really do think was her first "in love" relationship was hard, but it's made us stronger as a mother and daughter. We communicated a lot through it and I think she did come to a point where she could say, "Maybe Mom really does understand."
And I really do. I remember feeling those feelings. I remember daydreaming about a boy; or writing his name in my diary; or acting carefree like McKenna did throughout her relationship and singing in the shower and leaving messages on the refrigerator...
As is the case in any real Full Circle moment, the thing that's hardest to deal with is the realization that time has come and gone. It's hard to believe that it's been so many years since I was McKenna's age and going through the same sort of things. Twenty three years just goes by in a blink.
Another recent experience created a Full Circle moment that was filled with smiles and laughs and lots of fun flashbacks. It had to with back-to-school shopping.
A popular statement in fashion is that every "style comes back around" (I guess it's sorta like Full Circle Fashion!) and I know that it's true. If only I had kept all my clothes from the 80s...I could provide McKenna and Delaney with all sorts of fashionable outfits.
When we went shopping for school clothes, we were bombarded by colors (bright everything!), patterns (plaid! splattered paint!), and styles (straight leg jeans! bubble skirts!) that made me say over and over, "I had something almost exactly like this back in 1985."
Delaney found it hard to believe that we were so stylish twenty years ago, but I kept trying to convince her that I would have SO worn this new outfit of hers when I was in high school....
The moments, though, that have brought me more Full Circle than anything have been those that seemed to build and build as the beginning of school drew closer (we started this past Wednesday).
You see: I have a hgh school senior and an eighth grader...
and a kindergartener...
all in the same house.
What's so amazing is that...as I'm sure each and every one of you who are parents can attest to...it's truly almost unbelievable for me to realize that McKenna is so far removed from her own kindergarten year.
I can still see in my mind the day that she first--twelve years ago--walked into her kindergarten class for the first time. I can hear her voice as clear as a bell. I can feel the hugs she gave me after that first day as if she's hugging me right now.
Then, flash forward four more years, and I can see Delaney doing the same thing all over again. Heading into her first day of kindergarten; carrying her Winnie the Pooh lunchbox; telling me all about the boys in her class who got their names written up on the board.
How in the world did those two girls grow up so fast? How did they go from kindergarten to...makeup and boys and team sports and cell phones...to driving and boys and prom and graduation?
One thing that has really reinforced the whole Full Circle concept is the fact that Sydney has the same kindergarten teacher that both McKenna and Delaney had. We all absolutely love Mrs. White; she is one of the sweetest teachers we've ever had and has taught for 32 years.
When we found out Sydney was in her class and then went to talk with her at the Meet the Teacher Night, one of the first things we talked about was hard it was to believe that it had been so long since McKenna and Delaney had been in her class. "What grade is McKenna in this year?" she asked. When I told her she was a senior, we reminisced about the twelve years that had passed and how it just really didn't seem possible.
When I get sentimental about these things, I love to go back to pictures I took and things I wrote about the memories I have.
I look at a picture like this of Sydney standing in front of Mrs. White's classroom...
and it takes me to this picture of Delaney with Mrs. White eight years ago...
which takes me to this schoolhouse that McKenna colored when she was in Mrs. White's class twelve years ago (if you look really closely, that's McKenna in the front row wearing the red sweater!)...
As all the girls headed off to school on Wednesday morning, it was time for me to reflect.
I wondered where the time had gone. I reflected on some of the sweet memories of McKenna and Delaney when they were still little. And, of course, I cried a few tears.
But then I began to think about Full Circle moments and how, at first glance, we might think of them as sad moments or moments that make us wish time would slow down. Why can't these moments, though, help me reflect on life's sweet journey?
And then I began to think about how I want to make this year one of good things. What good lessons could I learn from the many Full Circle moments I was bound to experience this year?
I'm going to not say, "I wish she'd get past this phase" (or any similar sentence). I'm going to take every phase, and personality turn, and moment as important. I think we too often wish for our children to move onto something that's easier; but when we do this, we don't get the joy that comes in who they are right now (even when it might be challenging).
I'm going to enjoy each moment of my girls' years this year. There will be so many big moments--first school plays, first school carnival, first playground crush, but also last homecoming games, last prom, last report card. But there will also be small moments--and I'm going to cherish them just as strongly.
I'm going to not feel guilty about being sentimental.
I'm not going to forget to take photographs (and write my feelings) about everything.
I'm going to take things slow, so I don't miss anything.
And I'm going to celebrate who my children are as they venture out into their respective journeys...
even when they may make me stop, and sigh, and say "Where did the time go?"