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Sunday, November 27, 2005

O Christmas Tree

(Mysteriously enough, my "Add Image" button is working again tonight. I don't know what happened, but I'll take it. And it's a good thing, because I have a few pictures I want to add. )

This afternoon, between church, eating lunch with friends, and awaiting our weekly church home-group to begin, we managed to get all our paltry Christmas decorations out and up. After failing to get ANY good pics of the kids during our Thanksgiving celebration, I made a point of clicking some good ones today.

The weather is in another cold pattern again. Our highs are a few degrees lower than the average lows for this time of year. I guess that means the wonderful snow we have isn't going anywhere any time soon.

While unpacking the decorations that I swear I only put away last week, I came across the "Christmas Memories" journal that a friend had given to me our first holiday with a kid. She had explained using her own holiday journal while her kids were growing up, and what a blessing it was to look back on and reminise over.

Hardly daring to do so, I snuck a peak at when the last entry had been made. I was sure I had missed one or two, what with our move to Alaska and all, but thought I might be able to catch up if I locked myself in a quiet room and thought hard enough about it.

The last entry was 2000. Five years ago. Two kids ago. One major move ago. Sabrina was only eleven months old, we were still a few weeks shy of diagnosing Bruce's anxiety disorder, I was still thinking about returning to the work force. My father hadn't even been gone for six months. It was still fresh; we were still adjusting. Such an enormous transition and time of change.

I was also deep in the midst of questioning my abilities as a parent, and was only beginning to have to discipline my oldest kid. There were a couple funny anecdotes: one in which I suggested that Sabrina fit so seamlessly into our family that at times it felt as if she wasn't even there (no mistake of that now.) The one that really cracked the kids up was a story about two-and-a-half year-old Jack putting himself in time-out after taking a toy from "baby." In a dizzying inward folding of time, Evan's is currently amusing himself doing the very same thing.

How quickly five years can fly. How quickly one year changes to the next. And yet, how much things stay the same. In that old Christmas letter, I asked questions about parenting, like, is refusing to stay in bed and sleep a spankable offense? Five years later, I am still asking myself that same question with Ellie. Also, should I feel guilty using the television as a babysitter? Also the same kind of issue. Having been a parent of little kids for seven-and-a-half years now, I find many of the questions are the same.

Some things have changed, though. I know that letting the kids sit in front of PBS all day every once in a while won't destroy all their brain cells. (Look at the very gifted Jack.) Coming down hard to encourage proper sleeping habits is also a fight worth having. I would not be able to manage four kids without consistent adequate sleep.

These days, I don't beat myself up as much over how to answer the questions. The questions I ponder regarding Evan and Ellie are familiar ones, but I have a longer-term perspective by virtue of their older siblings who have survived and thrived through trying toddler times. The questions I agonize over now regarding Jack and Sabrina, as the forgers of new parenting territory, may also, someday in retrospect, not seem so critical.

Maybe there is a lesson in all this. Answering the inevitable questions is not absolutely necessary. Time has a way of working things out. What once was a pressing issue (i.e. what age to potty-train) becomes irrelevent when the answer is no longer pertinent to daily life.

So, tonight, while I am feeling anxious about Jack starting second-grade tomorrow, half-way through the school year, I need to remember than in five years the tension of this moment will have been smoothed and morphed into a vague memory.

This year, I am going to start up our holiday-memory album again. And I will do so anticipating what the observations and questions of the moment will teach me in the tomorrow, when today has again become the distant past.


At 9:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! You certainly are prolific this weekend. Go Linda!!! It's nice to catch up with what's going on and we're so excited to see the snow. Tyler and I have been enjoying looking at this as we finished up the last of his HUGE math assignment due tomorrow and of course left for the last minute. Way too many things to do instead of homework ;-) We're both thinking very happy thoughts for Jack tomorrow. We hope his first day in his new class goes great and he enjoys being a second grader!!!! Well, speaking of consistent sleep, it's almost 11- man I'm a bad mom ;-) Better get him tucked in and me too.


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