Thinking About All Our Younger Years

One of Cricket’s Slice Of Life prompts this week is  the pitter patter of little feet.

Time – our youth – it never really goes, does it?

It is all held in our minds.

– Helen Hooven Santmyer, American Writer.

Lately I have been filled with something like regret, not really regret in its truest sense, but the kind of sentimentality that washes over you when you think of the past. I have been thinking of things I used to do, like picking blackberries in my grandmother’s garden, brushing the coat of my silly old dog, Henry; of the birds that used to come to the first house I ever bought – a house that has belonged to someone else for over fifteen years – and how we had this big wooden table in the garden that they used to jump along as if it were made of really springy rubber. Of the neighbour I had when I lived in Bondi – a rabbi – the loveliest man I have ever met who gave me my first taste of Matzo Ball Soup and invited me to Shabbat even though I am not Jewish.

I have been thinking about all of these things and have realised that there is no possible way I can envision once more those events as they truly were. I can remember them but I will never truly see them again. There is sadness in that, but also happiness that they even happened at all. And I wonder if I appreciated at the time the joy those simple things gave me.

Sometimes I see things that trigger memories of long-forgotten days and I remember how it used to be almost as if someone had placed a photograph in front of me.

I saw a little hand today. A baby’s hand. A chubby, little, soft thing. I see the hands of babies all the time and am usually not so affected by them, but this one reminded me of a baby I used to know. My now twelve year old son.

This little baby’s hand was clutching a Matchbox car. A red one. He would not let it go. That car was as precious to him as anything. The baby was in a cafe and had been eating toast with strawberry jam and it was all over his face. The hand clutching the car was thick with jam, but he would not let that car go so his hands could be cleaned.

His mother battled with him but he was adamant. She caught me looking and raised her eyebrows. He won’t let that car go, she said. I nodded, knowing what it was like. My son was the same. His red Matchbox car went everywhere with him, even down the toilet on one occasion. When he was learning to walk it was not so much the pitter patter of little feet but the pitter patter kerthunk, pitter patter kerthunk of feet walking and car dropping. Over and over again.

I remember those days where tiredness cast pearl-grey veils over my eyes and I was so intent on getting through the day that I failed to really take in the things I would later wish I could recall. I saw that baby’s hand and felt something twist in my chest as I realised my son was running full tilt out of childhood.

And I wished for a moment that I could see my own son’s little baby hand clutching his car just one more time. Just once. But then I realised it is moments in our present that draw us back to the past, that everything lingers in our minds, good and bad, happy and sad. We have each seen more than a million treasures and they have shaped our hearts, our perceptions. They seem like they would be as fragile as handmade paper but they are strong, standing firm against time, gilding the dark.

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23 thoughts on “Thinking About All Our Younger Years

  1. This post is so beautifully written, Selma, I want to wrap my heart in it.

    When my kids were little, I remember thinking, “this stage of babyhood is my favorite” and then I would realize the next stage was my “favorite.”

    I still look back and wish I could play dolls with Spawn or cars with the Minions one more time, but I can’t. I can, however, enjoy the stage they’re at (most of the time) and look forward to that next stage of my own life, being a grandma.

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  2. I love your writing so… I think you’re right, it’s that feeling of having that stage in our lives. Doesn’t take much to send up back there. Of course, we gloss over all the not-so fun bits. ha!

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  3. Beautifully written, Selma. Such a precise and loving illustration of what its like to be a mom. Precious and exhausting, and a treasure without equal.

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  4. oh Selma!

    I know EXACTLY how you feel. My son is also now 12, and there are days when I too “wished for a moment that I could see my own son’s little baby hand clutching his car just one more time. Just once.”

    (sigh)

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  5. oh!! I can so relate to this, even if my son’s only four.(gah now I’m tearing up lol) I agree, we spend so much time focusing on just getting through the day we don’t really cherish what we will eventually miss later on. ((hugs))

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  6. KAREN – I love that you want to ‘wrap your heart in it.’ Oh, that is just lovely. Thank you. You’re right – there is always another stage to look forward to that brings us as much joy as the stages we’ve experienced before. You will be such a cool Grandma. Your grandkids will adore you!

    NAT – I remember those ‘not so fun bits.’ The teething, the tantrums, the wetting the pants in public one minute after you’ve asked them :’Do you need to go?’ and they’ve said no. They seem funny now. Aaaah, hindsight, you are a soothing thing at times!

    EPIPHANY – you know, you have just summed it up so aptly. ‘Precious and exhausting.’ I love that!

    MELEAH – it goes by so quickly, doesn’t it? Just like that. They’ll be driving next and going on dates. I’m just not ready!

    PUNATIK – me too. It seems like another world. Cher said it best of all :’If I could turn back time…..’ 😉

    BRANDY – how nice of you to stop by. I will admit that I had a little cry when I wrote this. Enjoy your time with your son. It does go by quickly. Age 4 is such a gorgeous time. They are so cute at that age. Thanks for visiting!

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  7. You have expressed beautifully what every mother feels. From the perspective of a grandmother, I can tell you that those days do come again a generation removed. And it is even more sweet and more poignant because you know the second time around how quickly things change. It’s one of the reasons we spoil our grandchildren – we are trying so very hard to hold on to those precious moments just a little bit longer.

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  8. Back in the 60s, my cousin’s little boy had a Dinky Toys Truimoh Herald, he would not be parted from. Now in his 40s, he has a real Triumph Herald … a beautifully-restored (by himself, although he’s a firefighter, not a mechanic) 1961 convertible, which he often drives in preference to his nearly new Citroen Xsara Picasso.

    And, he still has that toy car … which he said was HIS son’s plaything of choice.

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  9. Hi Selma,
    I don’t think that the poignancy ever stops, it just changes. Yes, Dads feel it to!!
    The proudness I felt for my children when they both graduated, the happiness and joy that I feel when they ring me to tell me that they love me (they’re both in Queensland), no, it doesn’t stop.
    I’ve always thought that age is a state of mind and I know for a fact that my mother still visualises me as that little four year old boy.
    Yes, I still get the ‘heebie jeebies’ when mum utters those fateful words…………………ChristoPHER!!!

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  10. I have these moments now. I watch the twins, realizing they are the last. I won’t have hands this size making fingerprints on the mirrors, or the sounds of them pattering across the floor when they don’t want to sleep alone, or the crazy baby sounds they use to form their words…

    it goes much too fast. I know I’m on the young end of it, and yet, my daughter get’s her drivers permit this coming year. I’m not ready.

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  11. So eloquent and touching Selma. I am tearing up, reading this beautifully written story. Your goodness and sensitivity continues to shine through your writing.

    Hugs, G

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  12. It hit me that my children were grown and I couldn’t go back in time one day as I drove past a little league game on my way home from work. I saw all the parents cheering for their kids and I thought ‘I’ll never do that again’. I felt quite sad.

    About two years later my grandson was born.

    Like adamswife said, “It’s one of the reasons we spoil our grandchildren – we are trying so very hard to hold on to those precious moments just a little bit longer.”

    So very true.

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  13. ADAMSWIFE – I can imagine that. It must be such a wonderful time. Something to look forward to, indeed!

    TRAVELRAT – that is just such a fantastic story. Dreams can come true, eh? I love it!

    CHRIS – I know what you mean about the name being called. In full. Still sends a chill up my spine. Age is definitely a state of mind. Sometimes I still feel like a little kid. I’m glad your kids call to tell you they love you. You sound like a great Dad!

    TEXASBLU – I cannot believe you have a daughter almost old enough to drive! How quickly the time passes….

    GERALDINE – awww, thanks so much. XXX

    LINDA – it’s just the everyday moments like seeing a Little League game that gets us, isn’t it? I can’t blame you for spoiling your grandchildren. They are truly adorable!

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  14. Sometimes I see or hear things & I remember my childhood. It’s almost like I’m watching my childhood on a big screen tv. I remember that when I was 4, I couldn’t say ‘day before yesterday’; instead I thought people were saying ‘baby for yesterday’. And when my big sister called me knucklehead, I retorted with ‘you are a knukanahead’ (I was a genius.) Stuff like that! 😉

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  15. In the blink of an eye they are no longer ours anymore or maybe they were only ever on loan.

    I was talking to my husband today about the fact that our daughters could potentially be driving in 18 months. How in the world did that happen? It feels just like yesterday I was strapping them into their car seats.

    I smiled to myself when you spoke about just surviving each day and the incredible fatigue a parent feels. Being a parent is a challenging and rewarding job that’s for sure.

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  16. ROSHAN – you sounded completely adorable. ‘Baby for yesterday.’ I love that!

    GYPSY – I know. It goes by so quickly. I can’t believe your girls could be driving soon. Where does the time go?

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  17. ahh Selma, this story brought back so many wonderful memories of my “babies.” How I miss those days when they needed me and I was the most important person in their lives. It is so hard to believe how fast they have grown and now have children of their own. I love visiting them and watching how my grandchildren look at their parents the way my children once looked at me.

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  18. CRICKET – it must be an amazing feeling to watch your grandchildren interact with their parents the way your children used to interact with you. It is probably very poignant. It’s lovely to remember those early years!

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  19. This is kind of random, but I run a parenting blog: http://www.HoboMama.com and I was interested in using the image you have on this post for an article on baby sign language. If you took it, would it be all right if I used it and credited you? If you didn’t, could you tell me where I could find the credit, or if it’s OK to use? Thanks so much! I looked for an email to write this privately but couldn’t find one! 😀

    mail AT HoboMama.com

    Thank you!
    Lauren

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  20. Hi LAUREN,
    Please feel free to use the image. A friend of mine took it but it was just a practise shot for her, so no credit is necessary. It’s a freebie. Hope your article goes well!

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