November 1st: Fleeting
Last night, I was poised to do what I always do on Halloween- stay home to wait for the one or two kids that come tripping up my stairs in their sparkly costumes, shyly whispering “Trick-or-Treat!” as they hold out their bags. And really, as much as I do enjoy this, it’s more an excuse to not have to walk the streets for hours at night- after all, I get up around 3 every morning, so by the time I get off work at 5, I’m tired.
Last night, that was my intention. Let dad take Camryn like he usually does, and I can sit here on my couch and wait, munching on the candy that is meant for the trick-or-treaters, and finally getting some time to read my book.
But…something occurred to me while I was helping Cam get ready last night. Actually, that isn’t right- what happened was, it occurred to that I wasn’t helping Cam get ready last night. She didn’t need my help. I offered, and she didn’t even want my help. She had it. She drew on her own kitty nose, and her own whiskers, put on her own mascara, and her own lipstick. The only thing she needed help with was her tail, and anyone might need help with that.
I thought to myself ‘how many more times?’. How many more Halloweens will she be so excited about the day from the minute she wakes up? How many more years will she wait, in agony, for it to be the right time to start knocking on doors? How long before deciding what to be this year is a months-long dilemma? How long before she doesn’t even want one of her embarrassing parents to tag along with her, let alone both of us?
And so, just like that, I changed the plan. I lit all seven of the pumpkins we’d carved and left a basket full of candy on the top step, and I tagged along. I’m so glad I did. I spoke with neighbors I’ve never met, and visited with ones I know, people who have seen Camryn grow these past five years. I saw darling little old ladies in Witch hats, and the guy who wears the ape mask every year when he hands out candy. But most importantly of all, I was there to watch my little girl…well, be a little girl.
Here’s the thing- as humans, we have this weird ability to trick ourselves into thinking that the way things are is the way they will always be. I think it is probably a coping mechanism that has to do with ignoring our own mortality or something. Or, I don’t know, maybe it’s just because we don’t see very well the things that are most often in front of us. But it is an illusion. Time waits for no one, as the saying goes. We age, our children grow up and change, time marches on. It happens gradually, sure, but one day- one Halloween, one birthday, one first day of school…everything is different. Your role will change, and you find yourself looking back longingly at the very same things you once grumbled about- or at the very least, silently wished you could pawn off on someone else.
Today, as we start rolling full force into the holiday season, I hope that you can find a way to engage wholeheartedly, so that there is meaning in it for you. If you have children, be mindful that the atmosphere you create becomes the memories they carry for life. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just warm, loving. If you don’t have children, or if they are grown, or if you are the child and your family is not a safe place to land…remember, you still deserve to slow down, to show up for yourself, and to create beautiful memories. With a little imagination and creativity, there are so many ways to celebrate, to give and receive the abundance of love we all have. Wherever you might be, whoever you are, remember- life is precious and fleeting. Make the most of it.