They sneak up on you, these perfectly ordinary things, but when the light catches them the right way they pierce your heart and you remember them forever. Perfect moments.
One of these was so simple that it seems too obvious a story to tell, but I will never forget it. Of course it’s about one of my children, and the way the love hit me so hard I felt a physical reaction. But it wasn’t a moment of danger or strife, it was just the pure personality of my child shining on a regular day.
I came upon Brady, who was 4 years old, playing quietly by himself with LEGO guys in a corner of the house. He sat on the floor, acting out a scene with minifigures, reciting their lines for them, helping them move and fight. He has an excess of this skill of imaginary play, animating the most mundane of objects: a bolt, a plastic bottle cap, a pen. They experience epic adventures when he controls them.
I watched him from beyond the doorway, my insides twisting. I savored his golden curls, his still-baby voice, his chubby fingers. After a moment I realized I wasn’t breathing, as if by not moving a muscle I was hitting “pause” on some cosmic remote that would stop time for the rest of the world.
My husband was about to take him to preschool. But I’ve got to keep this, I thought – the boy, the toys, the russet-colored faux wood floor, my happiness.
In the busy mess of raising two little boys I forget to pay attention to these perfect moments. They happen all the time but I don’t pause to appreciate them. And then the stars align again like the did that day – a little boy, some LEGOs, and make-believe. The realization comes upon me like it’s whacking me in the face with a pillow: remember? These moments exist and you have to hold on to them even after they have passed. Otherwise, who are you?
As I watched my little boy fly his guy through the air I began to feel panicky, like this happiness was a fleeting thing, an oily vapor rising from the asphalt in the heat of a summer day. I had to catch it, to capture it. I grabbed my phone and snapped a photo, and exhaled, finally, with relief.
Perfect moment. Captured.
And just in time. My older son, home from school with the flu, called to me from upstairs. My husband breezed into the room, it’s time to go to school now, Buddy. The baby looked up, took his LEGO guy, and followed his father out the door, yelling his goodbye at me as he passed.
He is seven now, with missing teeth and more freckles. He is different from that 4-year-old I wanted to hold in my arms forever, and yet the same. I sometimes cry a little, alone, for the babies my boys once were. I miss them. I wish I could hold their fat little baby bodies again, maybe just for a day, and then magically turn them back into who they are now.
And this is what I remind myself, every time he drives me crazy with his stubborn refusal to conform, with his dirty, noisy, boy-ness. He won’t be this boy forever, no matter what age he is. So I have to pay attention to him now.
Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford (which has been the top-ranked children’s hospital in Northern California for over a decade) want to help celebrate our extraordinary kids with this tool to make a personalized video. Here’s mine. It’s just a few words and a few pictures but man, I cried when I clicked “preview video”: Brady, the extraordinary kid.
Your kid, and every kid, is extraordinary. Celebrate your extraordinary kid. Show him how much you enjoy every moment together by creating a special video of your own!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.