A few days ago I was finishing up the frantic rush to clean up the house in anticipation of a visit from friends. Like any rational person, I like to clean up the house to near perfection in order to carry on the facade that I keep my house clean, dust free, streak free, dirt free, and in perfect order all of the time for any guests who enter our home. (Does this make me a liar?) I diligently and firmly required the kids to wear shoes outside and put socks on their feet when they enter the house in order to keep dirty little footprints off our floor. (I might as well have asked the kids to walk on the ceiling–it would have been equally effective.)
After my unsuccessful attempts to create a spotless house, I decided to make some bread. I gathered the eggs, oil, flour, milk, and sugar and placed them on the counter. I began measuring out ingredients into the mixing bowl and while doing so, emptied the container holding the sugar. This ‘running out of ingredients” thing is nearly a daily occurrence and I am almost never over-stocked with items. I have yet to learn how to live like a proper country girl whose nearest grocery store is 15 minutes away. I walked over to the pantry hoping that this was a rare occasion that I actually had extra stock stored away. I surveyed the shelves and immediately spied a bag of sugar tucked into the top shelf of the pantry. As I silently celebrated this small victory, I reached for sugar and carried it toward to counter. However, as I went to set the bag down, I noticed that something felt different. I glanced toward my hand and saw that my fingers wrapped nearly half way around the bag of sugar and it seemed to take less effort to carry it. I wondered if they changed the way the sugar was packaged, but it looked the same to me. Then I noticed the writing at the bottom of the bag–it said 4lb.
Didn’t the bag of sugar used to weigh 5lb? When did that change? Was it diet? Exercise? Or a combination of the two that led to the shedding of the sugar weight? More likely, I assume, it was the economic forecast and the cutting and saving that most everyone is doing these days. But still, I’m not sure when the 5lb bag became a 4lb bag. What it last week? Last month? Last year? Or several years ago–and just now I’m noticing?
Sometimes changes are so subtle they go unnoticed. The changes are just so slight that, unless I’m really paying attention, I never even see them. Sure, sugar is just sugar but it’s more than that. One day I’m holding a 5 lb bag of sugar, the next at 4lbs it feels so different. One day I’m holding a 5lb baby in my hand and seemingly in no time, I’m watching him race around a baseball field and he is growing more and more independent by the day.
I’ve been struck, more and more, lately with the passage of time and more specifically the speed of it. As I’m driving the kids home from a park or carrying chairs toward a baseball field, or listening to their silly banter I find myself asking the question, how did I get here?
The changes happened so gradually, that I didn’t notice them. One day I was a 5th grader hoping the boy in Mr. Henry’s class was ask me to “go with” him and in a blink of an eye my Dad was walking me down the aisle where I would say “I do.” Just yesterday, it seems, I was a 6th grader who was a member and co-creator of our neighborhood “Babysitter’s Club” and today I have three little ones whose parents aren’t going to come home at 10 p.m. and relieve me of my duties.
How did I get here? How did I get here? I keep asking myself. How did it happen so fast? How did I not notice the gradual shift from crimped-hair, tight-rolled jean wearing, New Kids on the Block groupie to floor cleaning, bread-baker, wife and Mama of three? When did that all happen?
I’m thankful that the changes are subtle. Honestly, I think that is God’s way of protecting us from the weight of the emotion of quickly all of it really moves.
I appreciate the little glimpses I get from time to time. The glimpses of the change. Like the other day when Meadow referred to me as “Summer”. Or when Charlie uses ironic humor–and actually gets it. Or when Chanelle wears every day of her six years on her sleeve. They are growing up and life is moving forward. In a way, it’s like feeling every ounce of that lost pound in the sugar. The change in undeniable.
There really is no stopping it, and in all reality, I wouldn’t want to. However, I do want to collect our memories and our moments and our stories like the treasures they are. And really, every day holds an abundance of them–if I slow down enough to see them.
don’t seem to matter until they’re no longer there & suddenly,
they’re all that ever mattered. -Story People