A lot of my blogs are about the crises and traumas that are scattered through my past life. But my life was so much more. There was love and friendship, fun and joy in the mix as well.
For example, I loved being a mother. I have wonderful memories of happy times spent with my children as they grew up. When they were little, every day had a magical moment that made me smile and think “I want to remember this forever.” I didn’t remember all of those precious moments, but here are some things that have stayed with me through the years.
One involved my ex husband, Larry, my son, David and my daughter, Sarah. It was in the 1990’s and David was eleven or twelve and Sarah was six or seven. We were on a long car ride and we were playing Simon and Garfunkel music. The CD came with a printout of all the lyrics.
Larry and I decided to expose our kids to poetry by analyzing the lyrics to “The Sounds Of Silence.” We asked them what they thought “People talking without speaking, People hearing without listening” meant. That triggered an amazing discussion. The kids were enthusiastic and really got into it. They both ‘got’ what the words meant and had spot on insights into what Paul Simon was trying to say.
I was proud of my kids’ intellectual abilities as well as their emotional sensitivity and maturity. It was a very special afternoon.
Another special afternoon involved just me and the kids, at home. In around 1990, when David was ten and Sarah was five, we watched a cassette of the Disney animated film, “The Little Mermaid”. We had seen it many times and enjoyed singing along. On this day, we got silly. When the song “Under The Sea” came on, we started dancing around the room. Then we went into the kitchen to search for percussion ‘instruments’ to accompany us. We got pots and hit them with metal serving spoons, like drums. We banged pot lids together like cymbals. We tried banging two pots together for a different sound.
We played the song over and over, dancing and banging on our ‘instruments’, singing at the top of our lungs. It was sheer joy for all of us. This is one of Sarah’s cherished memories from childhood.
Then there was the ritual of giving our beloved retriever, Sam, a bath. This involved both kids in bathing suits, washing him in the tub. I had to guard the tub to keep Sam from jumping out. He hated baths and constantly shook himself off, spraying soap and water over everyone and everything. This process involved lots of yelling and laughing.
When we were done with the bath, we’d dry him off and then came the fun part. We’d let him out of the bathroom and he’d tear around the house, rolling on every bed, sofa and rug he could find. We would follow him and watch, roaring with laughter! He was happily crazed and so funny to watch.
Reading to my kids was a big part of both of their childhoods. I read to David at bedtime until he was seven or eight years old and reading on his own. It was something we continued to love to do. We often ended up reading way past David’s bedtime. We would often get totally absorbed in a good plot or we’d be laughing so much at a comedy, that we just couldn’t stop. I still remember some of the books we read – classics like E.B. White and Roald Dahl, “The Indian In The Closet’ series and a comedy about Bunnicula, a vampire pet rabbit and his human family.
I stopped reading with Sarah earlier. Instead we watched TV shows and movies together. Sarah was always obsessed with ‘show business’ in all its forms, television, movies and theater. She read Variety and Entertainment Magazine as a child. I let her watch some ‘grown up’ shows from the time she was around eight or nine, in the 1990’s. Movies like, “Pretty Woman” with Julia Roberts, which she loved, and some of the prime time TV soap operas of the day, like ‘90210’ and ‘The OC.’
I let her watch these show, over my mother’s objections, because we would talk about the issues they raised for her. We got to talk about relationships and how people should treat each other. I helped her form opinions about issues that came up, like abortion, discrimination and sexism. Also, she only got out of the shows what was age appropriate for her. For example, when she was around eight, she knew that Julia Roberts played a ‘hooker’ in ‘Pretty Woman’ but had no idea what that really meant. She thought a hooker was a woman who wore sexy, skimpy clothes.
So Sarah and I had wonderful discussions about the shows we watched, as we still do today. But my favorite things to watch with pre-adolescent Sarah were the musicals that we saw over and over together. I’ve always loved Broadway musicals, so this was right up my alley. My favorite radio channel to listen to today is the Broadway channel.
We could sing every word of “The Sound Of Music” and “Grease” as well as all the Disney animated musicals of the 90’s. These were amazing, bonding experiences that we shared.
My life has been richly filled with deeply gratifying and gleefully fun experiences with both family and friends. It’s funny what I remember and which memories I value above all others. I have such a large trove of happy memories to choose from with my kids when the subject of favorites comes up. Despite the struggles and the down times, I consider myself very lucky.