May 10, 2011

In The Rearview Mirror

I always wanted to marry a man who would go grocery shopping with me.  I know, silly, right?  But I spent a lot of time while I was growing up—wondering how to be happy, and I thought that might be part of happiness.  I looked around and wondered why so many people were so sad.  I remember thinking too many people didn’t seem to smile or laugh.  And my favorite times growing up, were when my dad would sing “Little Surfer Girl”

to us in our truck, that didn’t quite fit all four of our bodies in the front seat—on our way to anywhere.  But given this was our vehicle, we sardined in, slightly on top of each other.  And we’d beg for dad to sing to us.  He’d make these silly faces and motions to the song in this ridiculous voice.  I would laugh and laugh from the bottom of my stomach.  I remember watching my brothers laugh too, and I thought those were some of the happiest moments.   My dad always had a way of making the mundane, so much fun.  We loved going to the grocery store or the mechanic’s all together.  He always saw someone he knew there, and he’d chat and always laugh.  He made me realize what was so important about life—the little stuff.  It seemed to me that if you HAD to go to the grocery store to get food, you may as well try to enjoy it.  He never complained about all the things we had to do together that were boring.  I felt so lucky to have a parent who could make us think that life was more of an adventure opening before us, than a list of chores to do.   And now I am acutely aware of the importance of this gift to me.  I try to remember every time I get wired up about how I’m going to get things done with the kids–that I was able to see a positive way to get through life, and I should take advantage of it. 

So this Saturday when I was sitting at the dry cleaner’s in the car, waiting for my husband to pick up his clean clothes, I caught a glimpse of my children in the rearview mirror as I looked about.  It hit me with a loud tap, so I went back.  There were two beautiful little blond heads in the back of my car, laughing about some character they were pretending to be, some little story they were playing through with sound effects, different voices and lots and lots of loudness and laughing.  I looked at those little boys and wondered how much I’d ache to see them just like that in 20 years.  I wondered how many times I would replay that scene in my head, at their graduations, their wedding, perhaps the day they’re released from prison for fraud of some sort.  I sat and breathed it in.  I squeezed my eyes closed and listened to their little voices and squeals and enjoyed the way I could sit quietly and watch them without them even being aware of it.  I was in the car, on a journey to everywhere mundane, and my children were having fun.  It wasn’t because of me, but I hoped they would remember more errand days this way than any other.  I hoped they would remember us being all together.  I had a few tears draw up, and I wiped them away.  I missed my dad today.  He would love that scene, and I understood why he said he missed me so much sometimes, that it hurt.  This was why.  It was because there is no other joy greater than finding laughter in all those little annoying things you have to do to survive.  There is nothing better than never being alone, because you have this little family that has the power to make all the little mundane things, so worthwhile, even fun.  And even though every moment of every day is not like this, it’s important to remember each one that is like this…  These moments will keep us smiling as the years go by.  They will light the corners of our smiles when one day we find our children grown, moved away, and we miss them, and we ache. 

To my little family today!