Sunday we did something different to entertain the kids in the boring afternoon hours. We watched old movies of the family. It was entertaining, embarrassing and enlightening.
We currently don't have a VCR set up to a large screen TV in the house. So here we were, all seven of us, huddled around the nine inch TV/VCR combo watching our past unfold. We had chosen a tape with our former selves living in an overpriced, brown shag carpeted, 600 square foot two bedroom apartment, with no air conditioning in northern California. Yes, those were the days. Big Boy claims he loved that brown shag with no padding. How that is possible I don't know.
The date was December 1996 and we were decorating the christmas tree. Big Boy (age two) was overly delighted every time he'd try and hang up an ornament from his perch on top of the step stool. He'd miss the limb he was going for, but by some christmas miracle on the way down the ornament hook would catch somewhere else on the tree. It happened like 4 times and each time was more delightful.
I watched and marveled at our little family. Big Boy was jumping off the step ladder (way more agile than his current two year old sister), cuddling up to his mother and ignoring his new baby brother who pretty much just sat there spitting up. Middle Boy voiced to the group that he was just busy planning his future world conquest from right there in the baby swing. It was a great family moment. As I glanced at my teenager, I secretly hoped that somehow he would see himself in a way that would make him more compassionate towards his younger siblings. I hoped he would see the love that his parents had and still have for him and that magically, he would commit to more kindness and obedience in our presence. I'm not holding my breath or anything, but a mother can dream.
Then there was a foretelling moment from a different date, where my husband had to get the camera out and record what I had just said 'for the record.' There I was in the early morning hour, lying in our headboardless bed with amazing wrinkle free skin, and a full thick head of short hair saying "I don't think I ever want to move back to Utah...." Apparently a huge admission on my part and T asked me to elaborate. "We've done it do death and there's more out there" I say. T asks where I think we should end up moving to instead. "Somewhere back East" I replied. "Where we can grow." I didn't know then that we would indeed move East. East to the Midwest. East to the real East. Then east to the Far East. Later T would go East to the Middle East. Lots of moving east. Lots of growth. Doing things that are hard always end up in growth. I am sure we would have progressed if we'd stayed in Utah. But not in the same ways.
If I were able to talk to my former self with some sort of Bill and Ted's magic phone booth here's what I would say:
"First of all, whoa!! You look righteous! You should stop worrying about that tiny post-baby bulge and just enjoy the awesome body you have right now. Also, keep reading to your kids. That is one thing you are doing right. Relax more and don't sweat the small stuff. Be nicer to your husband. Moving away will be a good thing, don't be scared. And take good care of your feet, your arches are falling. Like, totally wear supportive shoes!"
"Oh and PS-don't try the kimchi, you will hate it!"
If my former self could give my latter-day self some advice, I wonder what she'd say:
"Wow- 5 kids are you kidding me?! Holy stretch marks Batman. Ahem, yeah... you should probably read to your kids more and blog less. What else do I have to offer? I haven't really grown much yet.... Later Dude"