It must have been around the time when I first began running. At least I think that’s when it was. I was around 11 years old. My parents got me my very own, very cool, stop watch. By today’s standards, certainly it was archaic. A large, rounded, black contraption with two big buttons on the top indicating “Start” and “Reset”. Something like this. The stopwatch hung from a large black string that hung down to my waste and I was pretty certain I was the coolest person in the world toting my trusty stopwatch around my neck. It was a toy, really. I remember taking turns racing around the house with my siblings and other neighborhood friends–each lap trying to beat the time before. I remember races across our front yard. . . skipping, leaping, somersaulting, running backward, and on and on and on. Each time shouting “GO!” while simultaneously pressing the start button on the cool stopwatch. In my mind, my stopwatch made me the coolest cat in the neighborhood.
You know, in my mind.
In truth, I didn’t use my cool stopwatch for good. (Here comes the confession.) I used it for evil.
It went something like this. Me to my (four years younger) sister: Hey Ashley! Let’s play a game!
Me: (in really enthusiastic voice) Okay, I’m going to go downstairs. I’ll take my stopwatch and let’s see how much of my room you can clean before I get back!”
Me: On your marks. . . get set. . . go!
(I went downstairs and hung out, watched t.v. and returned and embarrassingly long amount of time later.)
Me (Upon returning to my room): Wow Ashley! You cleaned my entire room! You are amazing! Good job!!
I know. I was a genius. And not very nice.
This worked a few times before my little sis caught on to my evil ways. Still, we talk about now with laughter. In fact, she even has a tattoo of a fancy stopwatch on her arm–her ode to our sisterhood.
Sibling relationships, complicated, beautiful, ever changing, and awesome.
I think about the relationship our kids have with each other a lot. I try to imagine what this sibling bond will look like ten, twenty, thirty years from now. Will they be close? Will they enjoying getting together. Will they talk on the phone? Or, by that time, will they be able to physically transport themselves into each others living rooms with special transport machines? I hope that as the years go by, they will value the relationship they have with each other, glued together by roots grounded during these years.
Or, at least the sometimes miserable, sometimes wonderful experience of having Chad and I as parents. I hope that the memories we are creating for them now will encourage them to make new, beautiful memories together as they grow. I hope their common history will unite them in the future. And while I can’t control the things of the future (much to my chagrin), I want to do everything I can to lay a foundation that might guide them. In reality, I see life as buckets and buckets of memories. Everything we are doing today gets dropped in that bucket and I long to make it good. (And I hope that the occasional meltdowns and tired mom moments fall to the very bottom of that bucket never to be seen again.)
Our memories are rarely big ones. My favorite have always been, and most likely will always be, the simple everyday things that define us.
Memories like hanging out at the creek behind my in-laws place. . .
The last time we were at this spot (what I call our happy place) I had to choke back tears thinking about Chad and his brother playing in this same spot as young children. I couldn’t help but wonder if, perhaps, my grandchildren will one day dip their feet in these waters.
I realize with each passing year we are getting closer to the time when our kids lives will be split between their own and “ours”. There are days when I feel an urgency to create something special to continue to drop beautiful memories in to that bucket.
But then I realize that the best memories, the ones that form the heart of who we are, are the things that happen in the everyday of living.
And while I have no doubt that there will be plenty of “stopwatch” moments between these three, I hope that in the end, the bond they have today will be unbreakable in the years to come.