Misty watercolored memories
One of the most gratifying parts of blogging for me is the fact that it gives me the ability to look back and see things as they really were. Sometimes, I'll re-read an entry from 6 months or a year ago and realize with a shock that the moments I've been so nostalgic about were actually far more agonizing than I had recalled. The passage of time does that, I know; it blurs the rough edges and softens the harshness of reality more and more with each passing day until even the challenging moments start to look good in hindsight. It's refreshing sometimes to have reality here in black and white to shake me out of my reverie when I get a little too wistful about the days that were.
Other times, however, looking back can remind me of how good I had it. Case in point: this entry, from almost exactly one year ago. I was thinking of it tonight as I put Evan to bed and smiling at my premonition that I would miss the routine when it was gone. A year later, those Groundhog Days are as gone as gone can be. Our nights of snuggling up in the glider to nurse are long behind us, of course. So is the sweet childhood tome with the melodic rhythm I so enjoyed. It's been replaced with a horrible lift-the-flaps Elmo book which Evan adores and can't get enough of and which I find more insipid and maddening with each passing night. He points out his favorite characters with just as much reverence as he pointed out that red balloon, but somehow I have trouble mustering up the same amount of enthusiasm for the Count and Big Bird that I had for the two little kittens and the pair of mittens (oh, how I miss those kittens and mittens).
As if that weren't enough, there are elaborate new routines we must follow before bedtime now, ones that are entirely of Evan's creation. He must kiss his giant Cookwah before the lights go out. Flipping off the light switch is his job now, as is adjusting his noise machine and the closet light which he uses as a night light. The lullaby I loved is gone, too, replaced with whichever song he is fixated on that week (C is for Cookie just doesn't have the same feel to it as a true lullaby, I'm afraid, no matter how softly and sweetly I try to deliver it). Even the way he lies down once he's in his crib follows an exact routine he has devised. I simply follow along and play my role in a process which has completely and totally slipped from my control. At nearly 2, Evan is clearly driving the bedtime ship around here. That's how it should be, I know. But when I look back at what things were like a year ago, that parental nostalgia thing swings into full blown force and I want my sweet baby boy back in my arms again. Re-reading that entry is as close as I can get.
A year ago, I wrote these words:
I find myself wondering how we've gotten there again so fast, how the day, which seemed so interminably long while we were in the midst of it, slipped away from me so quickly. No matter how distracted or busy I've been all day, no matter how many times my quality time with Evan has been derailed by a request from Julia, a phone call from a friend or my own inability to concentrate on anything for more than 3 minutes, I am 100% focused on Evan at bedtime. I had plenty of that focused time with Julia at this age, but precious little with Evan. Often, I find myself wishing that I could stall the routine myself, that I could slow down time and keep my baby safe and warm in my arms for just a little while longer.
As much as things have changed, I can honestly say that I still feel that way each and every night. I recognize now that it's that feeling that mattered the most -- more than the book or the song or the way he snuggled into me when he nursed -- and I feel damn lucky that it remains to this day. It's slipping away too fast, this babyhood of Evan's, and that makes me nostalgic and sad. Yet I must confess, even as I grit my teeth and start the hunt for Elmo's blanket yet again each night, that the child he's becoming is every bit as exciting and fun and memorable as the baby he used to be. Every single night, when I put Evan to bed, I still find myself wanting to stall, to stay in that moment in time when he is so sweet and funny and unmistakably himself and to bask in the warmth of my son's glow a little while longer. What more could I ask for as my child grows and changes?
Some day soon, Evan's bedtime routine will evolve yet again. Cookwah will fall out of favor. He'll decide that singing is for babies. For all I know, he'll be snuggling up to a die cast train in a few months' time. And that makes me sad, because even as I mourn the old way, and even as I now recognize that the love I feel for my son won't change even if he does, I've also come to embrace the new routine and the way it so completely embodies his quirky 22 month old self.
I want it to last forever, exactly as it is right now. And if I can't do that, I at least want to capture it here and make sure that I'll never forget it.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.