There are advantages to having just one home since my son was born. Whether or not I keep scrapbooks or journals or photo albums, I can easily see the changes we’ve experienced marked against the bones of this house. Remnants of our past, smudged on the walls, scratched into the floors, dusted across the yard. I don’t need physical keepsakes, I can see our life here, in every bit of our home.
Early in the morning as the sun comes through a side window, tiny footprints appear on my living room ceiling. My living room could use some new paint, but no…..not as long as I can still see those tiny toes. It was a Sunday morning, up early, full of energy. We read books, we played, and then he asked to dance with me. He was not quite 2 and always preferred to be barefoot. And, oh, how he loved to be upside down. I scooped him up so he could dance on the ceiling. He squealed with delight at the absurdity of this. Mom – who always makes him pick up his toys and be careful not to spill food – was stomping his feet on the ceiling – of ALL places! He giggled so loud and so hard that I couldn’t help but join in. He giggled until he gave himself the hiccups. And we collapsed in gleeful exhaustion into a pile of blankets on the couch. His feet stay firmly on the ground now. I can no longer lift him. “Cute” and “tiny” are not words typically used to describe his feet any longer. Time marches on.
From my usual seat on the couch I see the chipped paint on the bottom two feet of the walls at the bottom of the stairs. I see the nicks and smudges become more sporadic as they move up the wall. He learned to control his body and his toys better as he got older and taller. He gained balance and didn’t fall against the walls as much. He began to care for his surroundings and was more careful as he played. As his toys moved from trucks to Lego, he slowly stopped playing in that area. I see his age on those walls. Time marches on.
I smile as I mow the back lawn and pass over that big circle near the evergreen trees. The inflatable pool used to be there. He asked for it every year as soon as the temperature started to get warmer. He would stand outside it and splash for hours with no interest in getting in. He loved to play with the water but was afraid to be in the water. Toys were all measured by whether or not they could go in the pool. At the end of one day, I scooped more matchbox cars and action figures out of the pool than I even realized he owned. His goal was simply to cover the entire bottom of the pool. He nearly succeeded. Some years I’m not sure he even went near the pool, but he always wanted it set up. Consistency was important, so I did it. One year he didn’t want it anymore. It took many years for the grass to grow back, but I can still see the spot where it was. The grass is a different shade of green there. My heart is a different shade of love when I look at it. Time marches on.
The small wall that hides the fridge from the dining room serves little purpose. Somehow it became the photo wall. Each year since age 3 we have taken a ‘first day of school’ photo against that wall. In the beginning he stood on a chair and made funny faces at me. He’d clutch that year’s favorite stuffed toy and exude the joy of childhood. Eventually the chair was no longer needed. He stood tall, looking sharp in his bow tie. No more stuffed toys, but there was always a Lego figure tucked in a pocket to keep him company. The funny faces were replaced by a simple smile and a rush for the bus. At some point the teeth were hidden in the smile, then the smile faded entirely. Goofy faces couldn’t be bribed into existence. The Lego guys sat, dusty, in the playroom. At one time, even standing on the chair, his head was below the wreath that hangs on that wall. Now he blocks it as his blank face stares back at my camera. Time marches on.
When the toys got too numerous, the spare room became the playroom. When the pets died, their dishes and beds and toys were packed away and the spaces were left barren. A sewing table replaced his father’s dresser. Medicine baskets got bigger and then smaller. The fort tucked in among the trees in the back yard is grown over and abandoned at the dismissal of a young boy’s whimsy. The sofa where I sat by my husband and fed our infant son is in the very same place. And my son still manages to drop his food on it. Everywhere I look in this house I can see the measure of our life. Time marches on.
I don’t need a photo album to gauge the changes in our life. It’s here – all around me. I am fortunate to have lived all this time in one place and to see my boy in every bit of it. My house isn’t perfect, but the memories it gives me are.
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