Today I was cleaning out a closet in my son’s room to make a space for another kiddo. This room my two “middle” boys shared when we first moved here nine years ago, and I was unprepared for the time capsule that was their former closet. It’s been a baby room, a playroom and a nursery in that time, but the closet has remained mostly untouched until today, and in it I found so many memories of a time when I both wondered if everything would be okay and also so much wanted to freeze the moments that were shaping me as a mother.
In that closet I found what kept me going through a really hard time in our family’s history. We’d lost pretty much everything material after a staggering change in the economy that meant my job loss, and moving here felt like a downgrade. I spent so much time worrying about what we could no longer give our kids, that for a long while I missed all that we were giving them. There in that closet, frozen for when I needed to see it, were journals and school work, art projects and little boy toys that offer a crystal clear, 20/20 hindsight of a childhood well lived.
As I sifted through the remnants of tiny boys, now 12 and 15 and taller than me, I looked up at just the right time and caught a glimpse in the sunlight of this little puppy. I remembered when I was so new to my role as step mom, and the sweet one who gave me that title excitedly selected this for his new brother, growing in my belly… our newly grafted family’s first child together. I was so scared and excited. Hey 2006 Stephanie… I just want you to know it turned out better than you could ever have wished.
That son, currently residing in a world between young child and young adult, no longer sleeps with that puppy but it’s never far, even if he won’t admit it. I have a panda bear who still lives in my closet, a throwback to a childhood with hard times peppered with good, and seeing this guy under his bed today reminded me that when I was worrying about what I couldn’t give them, this puppy will travel with him to adulthood to remind him of what we could: family and love, laughter and challenges, a team that never gives up. These are the gifts we give every child that passes through, however long or brief.
Be gentle with me, time. Give me a little longer to soak up these days.