153: Today Will Someday be the Past
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I wasn’t sure what to call this post. I first thought that “reclaiming the magic” was the best title because it’s the phrase that’s been stuck in my head the past month. But as I worked through the issue that got me thinking on that phrase in the first place, I realized the solution wasn’t to reclaim the magic of the past, but to realize there is magic right now. It’s just different magic than it was before.
In certain communities right now, there is a lot of talk about things like a failing economy and another housing bubble about to burst, and inflation. And because of these conversations, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about how life was for us back in 2007.
Let me set this up for you. In 2007, things were rough for us in lots of different ways. The details of what got us to that point are for another post, but we can sum it up as I was a 28 year old mom of a three-year-old and a four-year-old, renting my parents basement at the house I grew up in, while my husband spent the workweek away from us and we only saw him on his days off—which weren’t normal days off. We weren’t just pinching pennies, we were squeezing every last damn drop out of them while trying to recover from a situation that we hadn’t seen coming and weren’t really sure how it happened.
When I think back to 2007 and consider things that could happen now or in the future, I tend to think back on our days and being the mom of a three and four year old and how that time was so busy—because life with little kids is so busy!—but it was also so magical, because little kids are magical.
In and amongst the stress of the situation we were dealing with and trying to solve, there were these little kids. Digging in the sandbox. Adventuring in the backyard. Zooming around on bikes and battery operated four wheelers. We’d spend days in the woods behind my parents house, splashing in the creek, building forts from deadfall, picking blackberries. There was magic and adventure. And when I think about the stress of 2007-2011 and the possible stress coming in the future I think, yeah, but at least in 2007 I had the magic of little kids. And at least my kids were young enough they didn’t have to worry about the dumpster fire of the world we were living in. They were little. They had no clue what was going on.
Things are different now
I don’t have little kids anymore. I have a 17 year old and an 18 year old. And it’s different now because they’re aware of the dumpster fire that’s happening. They’re in that world. You can’t hide them from it. And it wouldn’t be right to hide them from it.
I’ve recently found myself getting stressed out about the fact that hey, we might go through world yuck again and it will be completely different than last time because now in the back of my head I’ve got that thought picking at me about my kids and how they’re gonna fare in the world and how they’re going to deal with the dumpster fire and how they are processing everything and what does it all mean for their future.
And I’ve found myself wishing for the magic that surrounded me back then. And the magic that surrounded them back then.
But there are two things I realized.
1 . We only remember half when we look backwards.
We tend to remember the past with a nice pair of rose colored glasses. Not because we purposely block out the stressful parts, but simply because we’ve had time to process things. We take everything that happened and pop it in a blender and mix it up really good in our brain, and what comes out is an overview of events and emotions.
If I really think back to 2007, there were lots of little kid stress moments interspersed within the little kid magic moments. Tantrums. Little boy fights. Severe allergic reactions to bee stings. Surgery to remove extra teeth. The noise and jabbering. The lack of sleep.
What’s more, there were plenty of times I wanted to wish myself out of the situation and time period we were in. There were plenty of times I wanted my kids to be older because there are things that are easier when kids are older. There were even times I probably thought, “this would be so much easier right now if they were babies, not crazy preschoolers running around at a constant speed of 5 million miles an hour.”
2 . There is magic now
Three and four year olds have their own kind of magic. But you know what? So do 17 and 18 year olds. So do 42 and 44 year olds. If we live in the past, we miss what’s happening today.
And you know what’s happening today?
I live in a house of so much amazing music. Of always hearing a guitar or a bass or a uke or a mandolin or the piano or the drums. I live in a house of my guys looking at cars and motorcycles that people are selling, and then buying those cars and motorcycles and spending hours in the garage fixing them up. There’s always a project to work on. I live in a house where my kids are teaching me to ride a motorcycle and drive a manual. I live in a house where I am making supper and I don’t even know who is going to be home to eat… or who they might bring with them.
And I know how this works. When I look back in ten years, I will look back fondly on this time. When my kids are almost 30 (OMG, that’s weird to contemplate) I will look back at them being almost 20 and think about how magical being almost 20 is. And when I’m in my early 50s I will think back to this time when I was in my early 40s and I will think of how magical my life was.
Here’s the big question: why can’t we see it while we’re in it?
Part of it is because I think seeing the full magic of the situation requires going through the situation and processing it. And you can only do that having passed through the situation.
But I also think it’s because most of us aren’t living in the present day or the present moment. We’re thinking about five years ago. We’re thinking about two years into the future. We’re thinking about what it was like when we were kids. We are thinking about what it’s going to be like when our kids have kids.
My husband recently pointed something out to me that brought it all into perspective:
When our kids were little, they would ride their battery operated four wheelers so much that we had a track worn in our little yard in town. Around and around they’d go, riding so much they’d wear through one battery and we’d change it out and they’d ride again.
My husband pointed out the other day that we have a track worn in the grass here at the farm from the kids riding the motorcycle around the yard as they learned to manuever the bike. Around and around they’d go…
I had to smile. See? There is still magic. We didn’t lose it.
We can’t live in the past and wish things still are the way they were. Someday today will be the past. Someday what you’re doing right now will be a thing you look back on. Time stops for no one.
So notice the things in your life today, as they are happening. Notice the magic in the moments you have right now with your family, your friends, and yourself because I guarantee there is magic there. It’s not just in the past. It’s followed you the whole time.
You just have to be willing to see it.
— Amy Dingmann, 6-8-21
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