notesfromthetrenchesIII

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Monday, May 22, 2006

The Best Years

Every time I go to the store with some or all of my children, old people will come up to me and comment on my family. They always have this wistful nostalgic look on their faces while they tell me to enjoy these years. That these were the best years of their life.

It used to sort of depress me, because, really? Is this as good as it is ever going to get? Am I really going to wax nostalgic over night after night of interrupted sleep, dirty diapers, endless laundry and tantrums? But then I began thinking that perhaps these old people were just going senile and that was oddly comforting.


Last week, nabbalicious wrote a hilarious story about something she did as a child. At the end of the post she wrote that she asked her mother about it and her mother told her that she didn't remember the incident, that she had in fact blocked most of the things she and her brother did out.

I thought it was just me. No wonder that past 11 years seem to have flown by. I hardly remember any of it.

Yesterday my kids started playing the "Remember when" game, otherwise known as the game to make Mom feel as though she has early onset Alzheimer's.

Some of the things I remember well, like when my then 3 and 5 yr old decided to "help" open the box that our pool came in, by sitting on top of the box and repeatedly stabbing it with steak knives they had pilfered from the dishwasher. The pool was damaged, though we didn't notice the damage until after we filled it and 2000 gallons of water leaked out all over our backyard. In fact it was the subject of my first blog entry ever.

Some I sort of remember, like when we first bought our house and one of the kids, Not Me, pulled the downspout (which was attached to the gutter three full stories above) off of the house and everyone rode over it with their bicycles until it was a flattened piece of aluminum laying sadly across the lawn. I have completely blocked out my reaction and Rob's reaction, though judging from the way the kids were laughing and holding their stomachs while retelling this story, whatever our reaction it didn't have the effect we desired.

Some are gone forever, like my 5yr old falling down and putting his teeth through his lip. I don't remember this at all. But apparently it was fairly recent and my kids tell me that I let him stay up late, sit on the couch with me, and eat popsicles until he felt better. I said, "Wow I am such a nice mommy, huh?" To which one of them responded, "No, it wasn't fair that he got to have all those popsicles and stay up late." Can't please everyone.

And they continued on. Some of the stories made me laugh, like when one of my kids went through a stage where he would like to pretend he would fall down the stairs, very theatrically and scream, "whoa, whoa, whoa" the entire way down. And how one time Rob thought he really was falling and shoved another child aside to "save" this one.

Some I am glad to have almost forgotten. Like the time everyone in the family had a stomach bug and my oldest son leaned over his top bunk to throw up and did so all over his brother sleeping below him. And how we had to wake him up and tell him he was covered in vomit not his own, and uh he might not want to open his mouth and talk just yet. Sometimes I feel like I live in a frat house. Also, we have never ever regained an interest in eating pizza pockets. In fact, if you want to get back at someone for wronging you, you only have to utter the phrase, "I am thinking of... PIZZA POCKETS"

Most of the stories I wish I could remember with more clarity. Some made me cringe with embarrassment over my own childish reactions. You'll have to trust me on this one. Not pretty.

Overall, I found myself feeling relieved since their stories were being recounted with laughter, even things that were not funny at the time had taken on a new humorous twist.

That must be the reason the old people say that it was the best years of their lives, they barely remember any of it. And the things that they do have been spit shined by time.

When I grow up, I want to be one of those old people in the grocery store. I want to remember these as the best years of my life.

I really, really do.

44 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a good thing I took lots of pictures because I don't remember anything either and I only have two kids.

Liz

9:40 AM  
Blogger TBG said...

They will be!

Great post!

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Nohe 5 said...

Time flies when you're having fun, which is why I never trust a clock. I tell the passage of time by the piles of laundry. Will I forget that too?!?

10:27 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

I have the same thing. People say, "Enjoy it. Make sure to spend lots of time with them. Play with them." If I have to make one more lego creation I think they should lock me up!

I think the reason the old people think it was the best years of their lives is laughter. Think about how many times a day we laugh! It's easier to laugh when you are changing someone else's diaper and not your own.

10:44 AM  
Blogger novaks8 said...

Another great reason to blog!

I remember the pool episode you spoke of.

Those were some of your first entries.

So one question Chris, Is the pool ready yet?

haha

10:51 AM  
Blogger Heth said...

Those are some great stories. I'm glad children have a way of remembering thing through rose colored glasses. The vomit thing? I don't think that can possibly be a fond memory, no matter WHAT color glasses you look through.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Time is going too fast. I am going to panic when there are no more diapers to change. I have only girls.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Mary Poppins NOT said...

I was in the store with all my kids (seven), and an older man came up to me and said, "These years are much better as memories."

A-ha! I knew it! This made lots more sense than, "These are the best years of your life." I, too, always got depressed at this statement. Here I am, frustrated and exhauseted, and this is as good as it gets??

Anyway, from one amnesiac to another, great post!

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Visitor Catherine said...

I stumbled on this site while searching for a decent shutter color for our yellow house. I love it! I would like a little biographical info, though -- is it on the site somewhere?

I have three daughters aged 13, 15, and 17. (I refer to our house as "Hormone Hell.") People told me, too, that I wouldn't remember their childhoods, so I've always kept a journal -- but I only write down the good stuff and the funny stuff. I figure there's no point in recording the crappy stuff for posterity.

11:12 AM  
Blogger stacey said...

I have 3 kids, one that graduates Friday night, one that turns 17 on Thrusday and another one that will enter high school in Sept. And trust me these are the years that you remember fondly when they get older. And my kids laugh about all the funny/naughty things too. And mostly they laugh at my reactions to them. I can sooo relate to it all. Even the pool thing. I'm gonna have to go back to the start and read I guess. Hang in there your doing great so far! Laughter is great sanity increaser!

11:13 AM  
Anonymous mummyv said...

oh this is a hilarious post.. i'm still laughing... everytime i think i can't deal with one, you write about your huge brood of lovelies and i feel so much better!.... i dread to think that the "best" years are those covered in vomit and trying to avoid ambulance rides, but what do i know... things always seem better looking back at them... ie, now that my daughter is walking and seems to think she's an independent person, i look back on the "good old days" when she was a newborn and could only eat poo and sleep, even if the cycle did repeat itself every 2 hours.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Lilly said...

Kids do such bizarre things. The weirder the occasion, the more hilarious the memories will be, I'm sure... 'Please pass the blueberry pie' was a funny funny thing to say when I was growing up because once there'd been a too energetically passed plate and a flying piece of pie.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was shopping with three children, pregnant with the fourth, weary from saying "no" and "don't touch that" and praying I'd find a bathroom quickly looked like when some old geezer made the "best years of your life" comment to me. I looked him straight in the eye and said "if that's true, I'm going to kill myself."

He backed off pretty quickly. Smart guy.

Cassie

11:50 AM  
Blogger InterstellarLass said...

Yeah, I'm thinking the best years will be when they tell me they have jobs and don't need me to buy them everything.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Bre said...

I once leaned over the top bunk and puked as a child... but in my defense, I really had to puke and didn't want to puke in my bed!!

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Bryanne said...

Here's the formula:

Tragedy + Time = Comedy

Honestly, I think that the formula should be different tho, because the two T's are proportional. The greater the tragedy, the longer the time needed before comedy.

Love your posts, as always

12:10 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

That was a wonderful post, Chris. Almost makes me want to reconsider having my tubes tied after my first, extremely affectionate and well-behaved child.

Kidding!

(about tying the tubes, of course, not about my darling son)

I love this post, and I love the way you describe your children. Your love for them seeps through even your sarcasm.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

I loved the re-written comment about these years being better as memories. However, writing this stuff down will definitely help...it's one of the reasons I started blogging, actually. At least when I look back on the constant talking and all of the "issues," I'll see that at some point I found humor in it, and that has to be a good thing.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous mom8k said...

now that my 8 kids are 21-7, I find myself thinking "how did this happen?" I look at pictures of my babies and I don't even remember taking some of them! But as we get ready to send 3 off/back to college this fall I think that the "best years" thing was about having them all under our roof all the time. Oh,it was CRAZY, but it was sweet too, and it was US. These days it seems there's almost always someone missing and we never quite feel complete.

12:16 PM  
Blogger My Full Hands said...

Seriously though, I wonder what I will do when my six kids are all grown. After years of cleaning urine sprayed bathrooms, vomit, ground in play dough, and doing never ending laundry and grocery shopping, will I be able to readjust? Will I have a shred of sanity left, or will I just be wishing for grandchildren?

12:24 PM  
Blogger Ellen said...

I had a necklace made that has a Goethe quote on one side, "Nothing is worth more than this day." On the back it has my kids' names. Sometimes I rub it like a good luck charm, trying to soak in the wisdom of living in the now. But it is hard, and hard to hold onto the memories. Thanks for this post.

12:45 PM  
Blogger ABC Momma said...

Blogging has definitely increased my ability to remember these moments. Also, it helps me to see it in a more positive light--like when my 2-yr-old painted her own toenails and got it on the carpet--she did a really good job on her toes.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I promise you will! My youngest is only six - but already all the intenseness of the beginning has passed - and the true girl adolescence, the prepubesent boy, all this feels harder. It was better when they were all in one or two rooms with just me and the only one who was mean was me sometimes. Once you feel your oldest has left, that the door has opened - you will know it when it happens, each child after that takes on a different shine because you know it will happen with each of them. And I know I will look back and say what the old folks say too,

12:52 PM  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

I bet it is the grand total of all the years together that are the best ever. Although who knows, because my inlaws swear that having grandkids and then sending them home is the best part of life.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Coming from a kid's perspective (I am the youngest of five girls), those young years were pretty great. We get together now, and laugh about all that stuff. I'm not sure how it is for my parents.

But I have to say, for me and my sisters, I think this part of life is the best for us. Somebody always hated somebody growing up. But now that we are older, we are all best friends. But I guess we wouldn't have gotten here if we hadn't been there and done all of that.

As for me and my kids not, I like the "These years are better as memories" line. I'm pretty sure that's true. You feel so overwhelmed when the kids are little, but then when they are big and you have time to look back on everything, it didn't seem so hard. And it's like childbirth. You tend to forget all of the painful stuff and remember the joy and the good things.

1:53 PM  
Blogger CaliforniaGrammy said...

Having raised two great daughters with my husband and now being grandparents, I guess you can say I'd be one of those "old" ladies to admire a young family like yours. I can't say they were the "best years" but they were wonderful years that I will cherish (as long as my memory serves me well . . . those memories do start to fade!). I often think every phase life has to offer us can be made into "best" years if we choose it - because "retirement" sure is fun!

2:23 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

You know, I'm thinking "I'm thinking of...PIZZA POCKETS" could become a catchphrase around my office...

2:28 PM  
Blogger Frauke said...

You are a terrific writer!

2:32 PM  
Blogger Yvonne said...

Dearest Chris:

I must first tell you that I am new to the 'blooging' game and have just started one myself ("geriatricmom"). You were my inspiration. We think alot alike. My first and only entry concerns the same subject matter of memory. I only have one entry to date probably b/c I have only one child and not seven. But more to come God willing.- Camille

2:34 PM  
Blogger Cheerio's on my butt? said...

It's funny that you posted about that because time and kids growing up has been on my mind a lot! I have plenty of traumatic memories over the years, but they sure make something to talk about later! If all was well through the years what the heck would we talk about or laugh at? It would be boring, but right now I wouldn't mind a few more boring times once in awhile. But these times sure give me a lot to write about in the blog! I think about someday when they're all gone and life consists of dead stillness in the morning, and cooking for just two, of only talking to my husband with no interruptions, of nobody needing me constantly, of not being being a doctor or repairman or maid or hero. I think I'd like it for a week and then I would wake up one morning and wonder if I was still alive.

2:51 PM  
Blogger B.E.C.K. said...

I love your comment about feeling like you live in a frat house. What a great description! Oh, and mummyv said "eat poo." [snicker] I'm not above reacting childishly to certain things, either. ;^)

2:53 PM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Brilliant. I feel the same way.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Pyles of Clutter said...

I laugh out loud when I read your blog! My husband just looks at me and shakes his head. Thanks for giving me a small diversion in my otherwise mundane world...

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

G is only two and I already forgot so much stuff that hubby reminds me of or someone else will tell me about. It makes me so mad and I know by the time she is 10 maybe I wont remember any of this. I guess thats why we have pictures and video. Sigh.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Lena said...

I have literally written things down that were funny on a scrap of paper, thrown it in my purse, and NOT EVEN REMEMBERED IT when I come across it a WEEK LATER.

The dementia allows the old people to harrass their kids for grandkids. They forget the crap - they trick their kids into procreating.

See? Parental memory loss is out of environmental necessity! LOL

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Maddy said...

I once spent an afternoon watching video’s from when my son's were 1 and 3 and I cried my eyes out hearing their voices and watching them do thing I had forgotten they ever did. Thank god for video's and cameras.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Mary Tsao said...

I agree with one of the previous posters. Blogging will help you remember!

I know it's going to help me. Although I will deny that I ever was as cranky as I admit to being in these darn blog posts.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

You are so right. It's in our romanticize the past and cherry-pick our memories. I think we'd all go crazy if we didn't.

Great post :)

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

Oops, I meant to say it's "in our nature to romanticize the past..."

1:06 AM  
Anonymous Heather said...

What a cute post Chris! When I had my oldest child, I honestly thought I would remember IT ALL, I mean I am her mother, how could I forget anything right? When she was about 4 years old, my mother in law was recalling something very funny my daughter had done in front of a group of family members, when she was 2 yrs old. I. DIDNT. REMEMBER. IT! OMG did the panic set in. As their moms, we really do wish we could retain it ALL (well most of it, minus the barf) but we cant, and our kids are happy reminders of that. What made me laugh while reading this, is I DO remember every, single, time they had the stomach flu! Every time! Why is it we dont forget that?? LOL.. Your kids are adorable! :)

8:49 AM  
Blogger Junosmom said...

God designed it that way. He makes us forget, so that we'll keep having children. Then, when we get older and are grandparents and have TOTALLY forgotten, we can tell our children unsympathetically, "I don't know what your problem is. YOU and your sisters NEVER behaved like that when you were little."

5:15 PM  
Anonymous trinaleah said...

Oh my goodness I giggled throughout this post...oh my, good times..hehehe

7:10 PM  
Blogger judi said...

funny post!
it seems crazy now- but in ten years when you are living with 7 adolescents- you will be looking back fondly on these days when at least you didn't have to worry if the late night wake ups were due to calls from the police.
and at least the kids are all shorter than you, so you don't get intimidated when you scream at them to clean up their junk that they 've dropped the minute they walk in the door and they look at you askance.
and at least you don't have a hormonal daughter who makes dr. jekyl and mr. hyde look very sane.
and at least when you say bedtime, you don't have to worry that they have arranged the stuffed animals under the covers to resemble a sleeping figure so that they can go out for "some fun".
and at least you still understand their homework.
and at least the vomit now is not alcohol induced- that always adds an extra 'je ne sais crois' to the event.
yup, i am afraid, that for a while, it is all downhill from here.
buckle your seat belt.

10:16 PM  
Blogger joy madison said...

i have 4 younger brothers and we LOVE sitting and re-hashing the "good ole days" There is MUCH belly laughter! I couldn't live without them!!!

3:17 AM  

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