I often wonder what I'll miss the most when these days of having a house full of kids have passed. When it's just me and Dave and our empty house, what memories will stick out the most? Our day-to-day stuff? The routines--meals, naps, bedtime. The mess--toys, clothes, shoes, crumbs, art projects scattered about. The noise--whining, shouting, laughing, bare feet slapping against the floor, doors slamming. Or will it be the extra-ordinary days? Camping, river nights, county fairs, vacations, road trips, one-on-one dates.
What will I miss the most once these days are in the past? I suspect it'll be a mix of both--the ordinary and extraordinary. While seated around the supper table I'll see the ghosts of three small bodies, each taking a turn telling their favorite and least favorite parts of the day. In the morning I'll hear whispers of boys tiptoeing into my room before the 7:00 a.m. wake-up time and I'll feel the indent of a warm baby's body curled up next to me. While readying to leave the house I'll begin to yell the warning to go potty and put on shoes before remembering there's no one to remind anymore.
And when the county fair rolls around every summer, I'll see the faces of my children all lit up, hair blown back, as they whirl around on rides. Each time I roast a marshmallow I'll remember the sticky, gooey mess upon my kids' faces and fingers. As we drive across the country in a quiet car, I'll hear the voices of contained energy and boredom. I'll look back at the empty seats where once three small butts sat, and I'll smile, their presence hitching a ride on our road trip.
I often wonder about the passing of these moments, consider that this right here will be my golden years, the ones I remember fondly and miss dearly. But I also know I can't dwell on bottling up each moment for fear of missing them. That's why every time we load up in the boat, sandbar bound, I take stock in the some day memory, but then allow myself to live it. Such was the case a few weeks ago when we went out on the river for the first of the season--Jillian's very first trip. We pulled up on a sandbar one night after work, munched on pizza, and played. As I look through the photographs of that evening, I smile at the memories--Ashton's wide mouth devouring pizza, Jillian's tiny frame juxtaposed against the river's expanse, Dave pulling the boys on an inner tube--and I realize that this particular trip will blend into all our past and future times on the river, bleeding into one big video montage of river trips. This is a beautiful thought. Our years together won't consist of concise, vivid moments rolled out like a video reel, but instead be a collage of significant and insignificant snippets of our days and years pieced together. Future Angie will have many rich memories to live off, and that's something to look forward to.