I expect movies in my head at major milestones.
As I watch my nephew get married and think of my parents not there to witness it in the flesh.
When my eldest graduated from junior high, as I fought back tears.
But when I just drop into the kids section of the library? Not so much.
My youngest was with his Dad tonight. I promised him I’d stop by the library to pick up a couple of books in the series he has been reading. Most of the time, that now means schlepping up to the second floor, where the teen books are.
But tonight, this particular series was in the juvenile section. As my foot left the last stair, it hit me.
We never come down here anymore.
I saw the collection in the glass case—dolls or Legos or somesuch, an opportunity for a proud young patron to show off prized possessions.
I remember when he wanted more than anything to have his “stuff” featured in that case.
I bet he doesn’t think about it anymore.
The artwork hung on the walls screamed, “Look what I did, Mom.” He doesn’t bring home that kind of artwork anymore, brightly colored and splashed with paint/glue/glitter. He used to walk along that row of art and read every child’s name, their age, their school, aloud.
The featured programs listed at the children’s desk are now far too young for him. As I walked by the story time room, I remembered his little self trying to take over the reading of the story from the librarian way back when. He thought she was going too slowly for the group. I remember her not letting him take the book and me thinking he was going to go all Norma Rae on her.
I wander by the movie section we used to frequent and remember hot summer days when I’d bring the boys here from the playground just to cool off and switch frequencies from “run like you hair is on fire” to “let’s take it down a notch.”
The picture book section beckoned but I resisted. I have no reason to look for “Blueberries for Sal” or “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel” anymore. I did see, in my mind’s eye, a tiny blond boy trying to carry about 20 picture books down the aisle toward me. Both he and the tower of books wobbled a bit as they tottered in my direction.
The only place that little boy ever visits me anymore is in my head. It’s solely in internal movies like this that I see him.
I teared up. Yes, in the library. I’m such a sap.
I did not linger. I grabbed the books he wanted and left. The librarians looked familiar and I smiled as I walked to the stairs.
I have come to terms, in many ways, with the sands of time. Their shifting, the constant progression through the hourglass.
But every now and then, unexpectedly, I realize I have not had my eye on the grains of sand. And I look with shock at an hourglass that is half full, when just yesterday it was seemingly empty.
I want a bigger hourglass.
I was a good mom, I thought to myself. And meant it. They got story time, summer afternoons, books galore, movie time, picnics in the park outside the library where we read our books in the grass.
The movie in my head was a happy one.
Damn. I did ok. Something it is easier to say in hindsight than it was in the moment. We are always harder on ourselves in any one moment than we are when we look back from a distance. From the safety of knowing it all turned out OK.
I hope I can look back in another decade and say the same.
15 Comments Add yours
so lovely, Kay. It’s both deeply heartbreaking and a wonderful gift to watch them grow, isn’t it?
“The only place the little boy visits me anymore, is in my mind.” Beautiful.
I am a big believer in crying. Crying in the comfort of a library is extra special. I’m so glad your movie is a happy one. No doubt a reflection of hard work and library promises kept.
My “little man” turns 18 next month. If you find that larger hourglass, please let me know.
You can happily watch the movie with just a simple tear and many smiles. Good job, Kay. Great review for your own production of “Boyhood.”
Hadn’t thought of that, Mark! I still haven’t seen Boyhood. Need to get to that:).
“The only place that little boy ever visits me anymore is in my head. It’s solely in internal movies like this that I see him.” I know this feeling all too well. Your words reminded me of a favorite quote:
Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have of them. ~ Marcel Proust
I love that the movie in your head is a happy one. You were a good mom, and you ARE a good mom. Your sons are blessed to have you in their lives. xox
Thank you, Amy! I’m glad it’s happy also. No need for Shakespearean tragedies:).
I just had the same happen to me. Downstairs in the library picking up books. I did a little stroll down memory lane. Watching the moms and the kids with their tower of books. It brought a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. Thanks!
This was so close to home. So heartfelt and reflective. I love the bigger hourglass line.
We all have reels in our heads, don’t we? Thanks for the kind words,
My movie reel is constantly running. We took our eldest to college this past fall. I can’t walk by his bedroom without several reels starting. The tough part is to pick one, smile, and then move on. (And of course, look forward to the sequels — staring grandchildren, of course!)
You’re right about the smiling and moving on. We lose the present moment if we can’t leave the theater seats:).
You made the passing of time real for me – I love that last thought about being kinder to ourselves in retrospect, if only we could remember that at the time.
You inspire me! I hope one day I can just like you, sharing the joys of life with my own children. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your life lessons.
Thank you! I’m honored. I’ll remember your words on days when opening my heart is scarier than others:).