21 Nov
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The Impact of a Decade

Our second child hits double digits this weekend. We’ve had the privilege of calling him ours for 10 years. Those years hold so much life….accomplishments, laughs, travels, tears, struggles. I’ve caught myself this week involuntarily remembering moments from the last decade of J’s life. I’ll be washing dishes and be caught off guard by a moment from years ago.

one day old baby boy wrapped in blanket

The night he was born, the nurse brought him to me all cleaned and wrapped like a baby burrito. I held him and looked at his wide eyes for HOURS. He didn’t make any noise and just stared back. That was yesterday but not really. He had ridiculously curly hair when he was a baby. The kind you couldn’t do anything with, and we called him our little clown. One day, four-year-old J climbed the aspen tree in the backyard to the top where it swayed with his added weight. That could have been a disaster but wasn’t. There’s the boy playing peek-a-boo with the little girl because he doesn’t think anyone is looking. Ten years of memories sneak up on me, and sometimes take my breath away.

I recently read the book What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. The main character suffers a head injury and loses all memory of the last 10 years of her life. She believes she’s pregnant with her first child but actually has three children who she doesn’t remember. I can’t imagine waking up one day and believing I’m the 25-year-old mother of one. The idea of missing one day in the life of my children, yet alone a decade, makes my stomach turn. BUT there are memories that still bring pain and sadness. For a moment, I believe I would really rather not have those memories anymore.

That same curly-haired baby wouldn’t eat, couldn’t put on weight and didn’t sleep through the night for 13 months. There were so many tears shed on those sleepless nights. I was emotionally broken and vulnerable. I felt so very alone. If I could let go of the night I miscarried our third pregnancy, I wouldn’t deal with that tight feeling in my chest every January on the day that little one would have been born. That night in the ER and the following days are too hard to hold onto.

The first three months of our daughter’s life were a trying time for our family. She had her own eating issues which required xrays and doctor visits. There was that day I sat a crying, blubbering mess with a six-week-old baby and three sons at home and had just been told I had a life-threatening blood clot in my left leg. The days in the hospital for treatment and the healing process are not my favorite memories from the last decade. The morning I sat in the waiting room alone while my husband lay awake on a table having his kidneys biopsied, that memory could go. There are days and days of memories of a crying, upset fourth grade boy being relentlessly teased and bullied at school. I don’t need the memory of that boy.

boy jumping in leaf pile

Reading that book I thought it would be so nice to not know those struggles ever even existed. Let me keep those happy memories that bring smiles instead of tears. The pitter patter that only little feet make running across the floor. I’ll keep the memories of the little voices, little hands intertwined with mine, and little bodies snuggled on my lap. I definitely want to remember the concerts, sporting events, ceremonies, vacations, game nights, and hours spent reading.

For that fleeting moment, losing the bad memories and the weight they leave on my heart seems for the best but only for a moment. I think of that young mother of one who had no idea just how much life was about to happen in the next decade. I think she’d be pleased with who she became. I’m comfortable with who I am. I have a mental treasure chest full of fantastic memories from the last decade, but those struggles and storms shaped me. This person I am and this family I have wouldn’t be what it is without the struggles. We’ve weathered storms I wished we hadn’t had to withstand, but I wouldn’t want to forget.

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