Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I Watched an Old Home Movie.

Well, well, well... here I am, back writing on the ol' blog, two years after my last post.
Good grief.

I blame Facebook.  Facebook makes it so easy to quickly post a picture, a moment, a story, a video and I ended up slowly just using that as my outlet.  Then when I started my business and attached a blog to my website, I started writing there and let the rest of my personal writing go.  And of course, there's the grief I've been working through for the last four years. And the kids, who grow faster and faster each month. I just don't have time to sit and write.

But I wanted to share with anyone left reading and for my own posterity an interesting experience I had over the summer that I've been processing for a few months now and finally came to some good conclusions.  It's clearly too long for a Facebook post and needs the space and time that this trusty blog can accommodate.

Sometime around August, Michaela found our old video camera in the basement, complete with tapes inside of it that were filmed back when Michaela was around 4 and Jenna was just about 1 year old.

We watched them.  It was amazing.

There were my babies: Michaela, curly haired, exuberant, hogging the camera, running, dancing, singing, joking, smiling, with her high pitched little preschool voice and full of joy.  And Jenna, my sweet blue eyed girl, smiling, observing, waving, watching Michaela like a hawk, with her little wispy hair curled off her face from her cowlick.  I was filming them, asking them to sing, asking questions, laughing, talking, and soaking it all in.  I was clearly in love with them and sounded incredibly happy.

And I remember as I was filming that the big question on my mind was, "Are they gonna turn out okay?"

Will they be tall and strong and beautiful? Will they be smart and happy and have friends?  Will they like school? Will they be healthy? Can I keep them safe? Am I doing enough? Too much? Am I doing this whole mommy thing right?

And now. Now I am watching them both, 16 and almost 13, sitting on the couch in our living room, Michaela's legs on top of Jenna's because that's how they always sit, with Jenna on the bottom and Michaela on the top, remarkably like the video, their beautiful long hair tucked behind their ears, watching themselves on the tapes as they used to be, before this house, before their brother, before PopPop was gone, before school started, before classroom tests and cell phones and early wake ups for school and boyfriends and ripped jeans and college searches and all the other stuff that comes with being a teenager.

Now I see them all these years later and I see that they are indeed- so far!- okay.

I listened to how I sounded in those videos and wondered if I am the same now as I was then... still as happy, still as optimistic, still as focused on my babies and cheerful.  I thought about that for a long, long time this summer.

I had a tough summer for a multitude of reasons.

I even talked to someone about it, and how I was feeling nostalgic for the past and how I sounded in those videos.  Was I happy now?  I explained to him how much I wanted to feel HAPPY again, like I was back then.  I've been carrying around this grief and agitation for my dad for years now and I  I want to go back to how I sounded then. Fresher. Lighter.

"What would your dad say about all of this? What would he tell you to do?"

And I answered that he would tell me to set this all down and let it go.  I don't have to carry this junk around anymore. Let it go.

For the next month, when I would feel the familiar sensation of angst welling up, I would just say to myself, Let it go.  Put it down.  You don't have to carry it anymore.  And it got better. And better and better.  It was a huge step forward for me emotionally.

School started in the fall and quickly my life re-filled with homework and papers and stories of school and birthdays and my business ramped up again... but I still kept thinking about watching those videos.  Was I happy now like I was then?

I started to really think about what life was like back then, not just what I saw in those five or ten minute snippets.  Michaela was a handful: spirited, high-energy, challenging boundaries over and over and over again.  Jenna was exhaustingly clingy and needy and nursing constantly and would not be happy with anyone except for me.  I had all kinds of unknowns in my head... would we have another baby? Would I be a stay at home mom forever? Would we be in this house for much longer? What did the future hold?  Yes, I was happy for sure, and I knew that this is what I was supposed to be doing right then.  That gave me divine purpose and peace.  But I had some mental clutter in my head and day to day was not quite as easy as I remember it being.

So where am I now? I have thought about this a great deal lately.  I am a better person for what I have experienced in the last few years. I have grown. I have started my own business from scratch. I have been privileged to go through profoundly powerful Bible studies.  I have set goals and achieved them.  I have been blessed.  I am more confident, a better leader, more compassionate, more understanding, more loving, and more self aware.  I understand people and myself better than I did back then.  And I am fairly confident that my kids will turn out okay.

I realized how much I was looking at those videos with rose colored glasses, a wistful nostalgia for a seemingly simpler time.  Seeing my little girls on video allowed me a chance to reconnect with those babies and I loved every minute of it.

I realized I am just as happy now, loving watching my girls and my boy grow up, dipping their toes into being independent. I am happy hearing about the bigger problems and joys and issues they face each day.  I am happy growing my business and feeling like I am really helping people who are hurting to feel loved and at peace again.  I am happy that I have grown the depth of my marriage, that we have survived over 20 together without drifting apart and still really enjoy being together.

So yes, it was wonderful to be able to go back in time and revisit with our little family from 12 years ago.  But now is good, too.

I am happy.

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