Friday, December 29, 2006

Time in a Bottle

Today, the children and I plus a friend took BART in to San Francisco and walked to the California Academy of Sciences' current home. There was a dinosaur exhibit that we wanted to see, but more than that, it was an incredibly beautiful day. I wanted to grab the day and not spend it grumping at them for not picking up around the house or listening to them gripe at each other when they were bored.

First lesson? The kids are so excited on the train that they make everyone else look asleep. There's the excitement of going through the ticket turnstile, the elation of the escalator, the thrill of getting yelled at when you walk too closely to the track, the delight of getting on the train, finding a seat, standing and feeling the swaying of the car. . . seriously, it's a kick. Thing 4 yells, "Hello daddy work, see daddy work, goodbye daddy work!" at the top of her lungs as we pass the tall downtown buildings, which is fairly amusing itself.

The Academy was crowded, but fun, and taking a break at Yerba Buena Gardens for play made sense. Back in time for the snake feeding! Of course, we weren't the only ones there -- it was so crowded that the middle Things had to push in under grownups' legs to see. Even though it was hideously packed, and one of the snakes wasn't cooperating, both middle Things got to see some of the pine snakes snacking on mice. Later in the day, I lost Thing 2 and went back to find her so we could leave. We wandered back through the snake area in time to see the Anaconda get rat #2. Much more exciting than our gopher snake!

There was no way to see everything that was there -- ohmygosh, the flashlight fish! Big, big, BIG wow factor. I literally said, "Gosh" -- but we had to leave even without everything fully absorbed.

As we walked back to the station afterwards, I pulled my Mother voice out and said, "Okay, guys, I need you to stay near me as we go across these streets -- it's crowded." As I glanced back at them, I saw all four big kids walking with their arms out like zombies. I didn't laugh where they could see me, still in mom mode, but it cracked me up nonetheless.

Another BART ride home, just as big of a blast as the first, although with more crankiness among the kids. Pizza and dessert (it's a Friday tradition), and then some time just hanging out. I wandered into the living room to see everyone watching a cooking show on television. I climbed into spouseman's chair for some closeness, and we were joined by Thing 4 and the measuring cups.

While he and I were talking to her, I said, "She is just cuteness itself."
"Kind of makes you want another one," he said. (Oh ho ho ho ho, isn't he just funniness personified?)
"No; what it makes me wish is that I could capture this feeling for all of them and actually remember it. I know I felt this way about them and they were equally cute, but I don't remember."

That's the bittersweet for me. I know we're supposed to live in the moment to the extent that we have no thought for future or past, but in parenting, these sweet sweet moments do go by and I miss them, looking instead at the dishes or my moods, or something they're doing to fight with one another. They are succeeded by others, but the reality is that they fall through your hands like sand, or water, and there is no way to capture them except in memory.

And we know what my memory is like.

When the bees make something sweet out of their days, I can taste it and give it away for months.

But our days, our moments, experiences of one another follow one another endlessly -- or so it seems. I measured the Things, and between them all, there was about 2.75 inches of growth since mid-October. Time's passing, mama, and I had better get my mind and self around the notion that all I really have with them is the Right Now, always. No excuses about making things up to them-- it's only Now, when the wheel of time is meeting the road of my experience, that counts. Sweet days like today help, but they pass too.


I wish I knit faster, too.


Elspeth said...

Ditto. And we were just talking about going back to the Academy of Sciences today!

BeanMama said...

Beautiful. Just wonderful. *ache*

Brittany said...


It's so true. So eloquently put. Even with my little sister, there are so many things that I thought I never needed to record because I thought I'd remember it all. Nope. All gone. Sure, they're replaced with newer memories, but I'll never get those old ones back.

I'm sure you'll look back on this one day though and it will stir up those warm happy feelings.

Anonymous said...


Now *that* was sweetness itself.

We were at an extended family party yesterday and someone asked how old C. was. I said "almost twelve" and it kinda hit me... wow! TWELVE YEARS? how quickly it's all gone.

I wish we'd used that video camera more.

Anonymous said...

Heavens. I wish I could write like you do.

amy said...

:-) Lovely. One of the reasons my blog is bogged down in photos - my futile attempt to capture the sweetness.

Fiberjoy said...

Thanks for beautifully sharing this memory making day that will stay in your childrens' minds.
I too wish there were some way of genuinely capturing and holding those precious spontaneous moments when children are young. Burned on the heart but blurred in memory.

Rain said...

Your kids sounds absolutely wonderful. I'm not surprised you don't want them to grow up. Just think though, when they're older you'll have grandkids - so called because it's grand not to have to pick up after them ;)

Anonymous said...

Very eloquent- the moments do fly by, mired in minutia, but thankfully, you are tuned in to the sweetness & grab the memories while you can.

allisonmariecat said...

What a lovely post, thought-provoking and sweet. Very well put.