Back somewhere around 1999 or 2000 (give or take), I spent my days caring for my three little girls (my only son to be born in 2001). What did I do then? How did I spend my days? When I think back, I mostly picture a whirlwind. There was so much going on, and I was sort of a clueless traveler lost in that raging storm. Without an umbrella. Or proper footwear.
Maybe because my life was flying around me so helter skelter, I find it difficult now to line it up in a neat narrative titled, The Days When My Kids Were Young -- And How I Survived. I just recall pieces and snippets and middle of the night awakenings. I remember lining my three girls up on kitchen bar stools to do their hair each morning. I remember drives to preschool and unruly cardboard projects leaking glitter in their wake. I remember rounds of sickness moving through my family in waves, barely getting one kid well before the next succumbed. I remember family dinners, Saturday sports, birthday parties, spelling homework, reading logs, bedtime avoidance. In the between times of parenting, I sandwiched in conversations with friends, book clubs, dinner clubs, late night Sonic runs. My friends and I showed up en masse to McDonald's, talking for hours while our kids took over the playplace, a tiny gang of tyrants ruling over their plastic kingdom.
Lucky for me, by some stroke of good luck or maternal magic, I have a portal to that past world (and a wise bridge into my current life). Each year, I gather with four women who were witnesses to my years with littles. We catch up on what our kids are doing. We bemoan our issues and rejoice in our triumphs. We've talked through junior high and teenage years and college and missions and even weddings. We've solved the world's troubles several times over. And slowly, over twenty years, we've amassed an amazing friendship that is interwoven with our collective histories. Each year we tell new stories. And sometimes we revisit the old ones. All of it feels intensely therapeutic.
My point is not SCHEDULE A GIRLS' TRIP RIGHT NOW. Although, it's not such a bad idea. My point is that all is not lost. Even as those babies march out the door and into their own lives, even when it feels like your old life is slipping through your fingers, there are things to be gained, to be remembered, to be shared.
I haven't quite wrapped my arms around the big idea of a collective history just yet. I've only recently been old enough to watch entire childhoods unfold. But I think there is something powerful in longevity and steadfastness and in a conscientious tradition of caring. So, maybe call up your old friends. Create a group text. Remind your people of your stories. Read someone's blog for years on end. Let's mark time with each other.