Sunday, December 19, 2010

Picking up snapshots along the way

I was chatting online with a friend of mine a few weeks back, someone for whom I used to work more than half a lifetime ago, back when I was a teenager and I was helping take care of his children.

My youngest kids now are the same age his oldest kids were when I started babysitting for them. Now, 20-plus years later, those kids have grown into wonderful young adults (of course we're friends on Facebook) and I'm the same age now that their parents were back then, when I'd come over after school or work and cook dinner and give the kids baths and tuck them into bed.

Life is a journey. But when you're in the thick of it, juggling work and parenthood, it's hard to remember that all of it, the bad and the good, goes by faster than you'd think.

In fact, it takes talking to a friend from another part of my life, a friend who has already been where I'm going, in terms of parenting and stepparenting, for me to realize how much of a journey it is. It takes looking at my youngest son, in all of his Sleep-is-for-Sissies, 3-a.m.-Puppy-Superhero glory, to remind me that my oldest stepdaughter used to be that tiny -- and she's getting ready for college soon. I call these "postcard moments," when the journey is so clear in my mind.

This weekend, my family gathered to celebrate my father's 75th birthday and have an early Christmas. My stepkids were missed, but all of the other grandchildren were there -- "The Baby Grands," my parents call them -- and we stood around and watched the babies teetering around the room, watched the preschoolers shouting with excitement as they unwrapped Secret Santa gifts from one another, watched the older kids turn tiny again while they played with their new toys. And I looked at my parents and thought about where they were on their path, how far-away-yet-close my brothers and I must seem, to them, on ours. And how our kids, with so many firsts still ahead of them, have no idea about anything other than what's happening right now -- cake and sleepovers and candy and adorable baby cousins pushing the kitchen chairs around the room.

I picked up a lot of postcards this weekend.

What are some of the postcards you've picked up on your journey recently?

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