These are the Days

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I guess this is kind of a belated mother’s day post. Which isn’t surprising, considering that I’ve always been a person who’s late, and having kids has only exacerbated that. So, fitting, right?

I first heard the 10,000 Maniacs song These are the Days in the summer of 1995 before my junior year of high school, when I attended student leadership camp at Camp Cheley in Estes Park, Colorado — it remains one of the most profound experiences of my life.

(I’m so bummed to now discover that the leadership camps, sponsored by the National Student Leadership Council, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Association of School Councils were discontinued in 2005.)

The song was part of the emotional and moving ceremony that closes leadership camp — when each junior counselor (JC) gives the campers a “gift.” These gifts have no real monetary value. Instead they are inspirational poems, stories, personal anecdotes and songs. It’s incredibly powerful.

These are the Days has become an everlasting gift to me.

When I first heard it, sitting in the warm August breeze surrounded by other high school juniors and seniors from across the country, in a state that I had never visited before, taking in breathtaking scenery (including mountains) that I couldn’t have even imagined before, being validated and lifted up, I thought, “these are the days.”

And yet, even though I was literally having a life-changing experience, I understood the JC’s intention in giving the song as his gift. I thought to myself, “I wonder if every stage in my life will feel like ‘these are the days.’”

And over the past 16 years, as each chapter of my life transitions to the next — from the conclusion of high school, to college, to marriage, to children — indeed I’ve felt like “these are the days.”

It’s funny how a life-changing experience fades from memory. You forget the dramatic initial impact, yet the effects permanently mold you. In some cases, so much so, that you forget there was ever any other way.

I can’t say for sure, because I feel like I’ve always been this way, but I think Camp Cheley and These are the Days have impacted my appreciation for the present. I’ve never been a person who looks too far forward (which maybe isn’t a great trait for our financial planning), or looks to the past with regret.

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Which doesn’t mean that I don’t fret, worry and perseverate about things in the present (because I most definitely do), and it doesn’t mean that I’m not nostalgic, sentimental and sappy about the past (because I most definitely am).

But I don’t look back and wish I would have done things differently or appreciated things more.

And yes, there are days where I think, “Oh it will be so nice when they can dress themselves completely and buckle themselves into their own car seats.” But they’re always fleeting thoughts. Because I know better. Because then I would miss all this.

  • I would miss noticing that Bean’s hair continues to get darker and thicker. It’s still not really getting longer, but it’s getting thicker. She’s always been such a baldie. When Monkey was this age she really didn’t have much hair, but it was much longer and curlier than Bean’s is now.
  • I would miss the awe of seeing my first baby’s face on the body of a pre-schooler. It really is remarkable when I look back at her toddler pictures and videos and see that she really does look the same. She makes the same expressions, she has the same laugh, the same smile, the same grunts and the same cry. Her eyes light up the same way, and I even see the same flicker of recognition when she understands something for the first time —whether it’s putting the block through the hole or learning how to hold up three fingers. When that baby is born, it’s all in there — it just takes time to uncover it all.
  • I might not remember what a light sleeper Bean is. That girl is just like her father. Wakes up so easily. Meanwhile, Monkey is such a heavy sleeper that I probably could turn on a light and rummage around through her drawers while she’s sleeping. (Oh wait, I have done that.)
  • I wouldn’t appreciate the smells that remind me that I’m in the middle of toddler bliss — walking into Bean’s room and getting a whiff of Desitin mixed with baby wipes. Or, even yummier, picking her up and having her smell like “sunshine.” That’s what I always used to think when Monkey was this age. Their Nana will take the kids outside to play all day and will lather them up with sunscreen. Then when they get home they just smell like sunshine. And when I picked Bean up the other day and nuzzled her chubby little neck and arms and smelled the sunshine, I instantly was transported back.
  • I might forget to be thankful for the “why” stage. Oh Lord. The “why” stage. It’s only just begun. And I am reminding myself every day (every question, every minute) to be patient and grateful that Monkey is learning, learning, learning.
  • Or how funny it is to hear her say “ixgusting” instead of “disgusting,” or how solemn and brave she sounded when she said, “I think my great grandpa is getting ready to live with God.”
  • I might not remember how absolutely precious it is to watch both girls covet their loveys and blankets. I remember being so surprised when Bean was only six months old, and she clearly knew which lovey was hers and which was her sister’s (and they’re both shades of pink!). Those girls drag those blankets and loveys all through the house.
  • I would miss seeing the mental leaps they’re both making. Bean babbles non-stop, wants to feed her babies, wants to feed ME, is starting to have temper tantrums, and copies everything her sister does. Monkey now has a keen awareness of everything that’s going on around her and will ask me to re-explain things or ask what I was talking about when I spelled something to their daddy (guess that means no more spelling swear words).

So yes, I look back with nostalgia and remember fondly, but I wouldn’t want to go back. I’m satisfied with my past. I feel like I’m making the most of it. I feel like I’m enjoying the moments and that I recognize that “these are the days.” Some nights we read the extra book, ignore the dishes so that we can play longer, let the kids stay up past their bedtime, and snuggle with them in bed.

I know I have to enjoy it now. Even during the challenging moments.

I mean, sometimes you just have to laugh when you ask the kids to “make you dinner” so you can make the real dinner and they each individually bring you every single piece of play food and set it on the counter for you to eat. I mean, that’s just funny! Especially when your 15-month-old is doing it too!! And with such gusto! It was so amusing to watch her eyes light up every time I said, “Oh, mmm, peas. Yum. Delicious.” and then giddily turn around and run back for more.

When other mommy bloggers and writers say, “You may find yourself nostalgically wishing for those middle-of-the-night feedings,” they’re not wrong.

These are the days. And whether you want it to or not, this too shall pass. So appreciate it. Enjoy it. Love it. Cherish it.

Happy belated Mother’s Day, friends.

***

These are the Days (10,000 Maniacs)

These are the days
These are days you’ll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this
And as you feel it,
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky
It’s true that you
Are touched by something
That will grow and bloom in you

These are days that you’ll remember
When May is rushing over you
With desire to be part of the miracles
You see in every hour
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky
It’s true that you are touched
By something that will grow and bloom in you

These are days
These are the days you might fill
With laughter until you break
These days you might feel
A shaft of light
Make its way across your face
And when you do
Then you’ll know how it was meant to be
See the signs and know their meaning
It’s true
Then you’ll know how it was meant to be
Hear the signs and know they’re speaking
To you, to you


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One response »

  1. That pic of them walking away made me think…that’s how raising children is. Every day they need you a little bit less and become their own person a little bit more. Thankfully its a slow and gradual process!

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