In the margins

I asked my mother if she remembered the years I was writing about  in the same way I did.  Her answer indicated life happening with no time to really sit down and think about what was happening.

That was something to think about.  In the years I’ve been writing about, my parents were the actors.  I was an observer, a very engaged member of an interactive audience.  I was watching, listening, learning, the mirror neurons in my frontal lobe were firing up with activity as they absorbed cues on how to be.  For my parents, life was happening to them even as they planned their next steps or worried about the present and the future.

I remember wondering why money would be short when there was a salary at the beginning of each month.  Or puzzlement at the very adult assertion that childhood was a carefree time when there were rotten teachers, nasty friends, unit tests and final exams to worry about.  These words, these thoughts bounce back at me when my daughter expresses them now.

This song, which the singer said scares him to death, says it all.  The father was busy with life, the son was busy watching him and learning how to be and then he turned out just like his father.  When one hears this song, as a parent, one wants to take away a lesson about spending time with one’s children, about appreciating every moment spent with them, about making these moments count because life is too short for anything else.  But the other thing to note is that parents are people too (for want of better words).  When we are kids our parents are usually in the prime of their living, thinking, planning, providing years.  They are the driving force.  We watch them and we learn how to be even when they aren’t administering a direct life lesson.

I wonder now, after spending some time thinking about my mother’s comment, if I’ll remember these years of chasing dreams, watching them dissolve only to be replaced by newer ones, of making plans, watching them fail, rebuilding them and running after the dots that may or may not connect in the future, with as much clarity and as much accuracy as I did the years of my childhood.

My life is speeding by in a blur similar to the one described by mom.  The years bleed into each other and time as a concept is increasingly meaningless. When I am not worrying about quotidian concerns I am worrying about how not to let quotidian concerns drag me down and before I know it the sun has set and the calendar has advanced.

And through it all a little person is watching me, she’s learning, observing, absorbing, emulating.  In conversations she brings up things she’s overheard from the times when I wasn’t even aware she was listening.  I tell her in jest, “You are always listening, aren’t you?” and she says, “I have ears, Mommy!”

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