There are moments in parenthood that take your breath away. They are not ever the moments you anticipate. They are the ones that catch you when you least expect it. They are the ones that make you stop for a moment and think about how you got here. They are the ones that make you sit and reminisce about all the moments that came before it. They are the ones you know for sure you will one day look back upon and smile while a tear rolls down your face. They are the ones that bring a smile to your face in that instant. They are what I call time stopping moments.
We all have them. Maybe you had one the first time your baby said mama. Perhaps you had another one when mama changed to mommy and you most certainly had one when mommy changed to mom. Time moves. We don’t always notice it, but it’s constantly moving forward. Life can be so busy. We miss things. We miss things that are right in front of us because we are busy living life.
There was a time when this house was quiet. It was me and my husband coming and going to and from work. It was me and my husband enjoying quiet dinners and sleeping in on weekends. When we moved into our house there were two bedrooms that we never painted or touched. We knew why they were there. We decided we would paint them when the time came to fill them. For two years I walked past those bedrooms daydreaming about the children who would one day sleep in them. I made a list of what I wanted to do to each room.
- Change the ugly bedroom doors.
I hated the doors. They were typical 1970s brown hollow doors. I swore we would change them to beautiful white paneled doors way before children arrived. We didn’t. As with most houses that need work, there were one million other things that kept pushing the doors to the bottom of the “to do” list. After my first son was born I was too busy to notice the doors. After my second son was born I was too busy to care about the doors. My boys are eight and five now and we are starting to finally get around to projects we had put on hold.
We have been talking about finally replacing all the doors in the house and I was excited. Tonight I put the boys to bed and went into my bedroom. When I walked out I looked at their doors and I don’t even remember sitting on the floor, but there I was sitting on the floor staring at both of their doors. The boys’ doors are covered in stickers.
From the ceiling to the floor they are completely covered in stickers. I have gotten so used to the stickers that I hardly notice them anymore. Oh I’m sure when people come over they notice them and wonder why we would allow them to cover their doors in stickers, but the truth is I knew we were changing the doors eventually so I never really cared. Tonight though as I sat and looked at the closed doors I realized they tell a story.
Behind each door is a child who wasn’t there when we first complained about those doors. Behind each door is a personality. Behind each door is a child who kept me up at night. Behind each door is where I spent hours rocking and feeding and becoming a mother. Each of them has decorated their doors with what most would just see as stickers, but I see their stories.
My five year old might see Buzz Light Year but I see him at two. I see him when all he wanted was all things Toy Story. I see him cuddling on the couch with Buzz and Woody. I see a whole phase that has come and gone.
My eight year old might see a NASA sticker, but I see a five year old who was convinced he was going to grow up to be an astronaut.
As I sat and really looked at both of their doors; memories rushed over me. I remembered taking my eight year old to the dentist for the first time when he was three. I remembered holding my five year old's hand when he got his first CT scan. I remembered when the cardiologist told us we didn’t have to come back for a year after a year of monthly visits. I remembered the Peanuts phase followed by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle phase. I remembered that they have always had a love for fire trucks. I remembered the card my cousin sent them from Colorado full of stickers that said I miss you. I remembered the dinosaur phase, followed by the superhero phase, and the cute puppy phase. I remembered it all.
Suddenly the doors I constantly complain about to my husband no longer seem like something I want to rush to replace. I realized tonight that the doors are not just doors. They are a representation of my kids. They are their childhood. I can’t get rid of them. I’m not ready. Sometimes we worry so much about getting our houses exactly how we always imagined them to be that we don’t realize they are exactly how we want them. I know there will come a time one day when my house will always be neat. There will come a time when I will no longer trip over matchbox cars and soccer cleats. There will come a time when I will miss it. I don’t always know that, but when I have time stopping moments I realize it. Tonight as I stared at my boys’ doors I realized there will come a day when I will look back and tell them about the doors that told their stories. Tonight I realized childhood moments are captured in the places right in front of us. We are surrounded by moments in time. We just have to take the time to notice them.