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.