“We like to think we’re so smart. And we have all the answers. And we want to pass all of it on to our children. But if you scratch beneath the surface, you don’t have to dig very deep to find the kid you were. Which is why it’s kind of crazy that now we’re raising kids of our own. I guess that’s the real circle of life. Your parents faked their way through it; you fake your way through it. And hopefully you don’t raise a serial killer.”
– Phil Dunphy, Modern Family
Aside from the fact that Modern Family is genius, Phil‘s got this exactly right.
Papa D. and I struggled for a long time in our decision to have a child. There were times we said we wouldn’t. We always told our family we wouldn’t, even when we had decided we would. In reality, we had been taking steps towards having a child for a long time. When we bought our house, we painted the smallest bedroom sage green. We traded in one of our cars for an SUV and blamed it on the dog (who fit just fine in the car). We went to a free day at the zoo, and loved it. Papa D. ran like a child to any display in any store that had “Cars” merchandise on it. He bought a kickball at the grocery store, and still hasn’t used it. But I know now that he will.
When I was pregnant, I started getting really nostalgic….mostly with food (shocking, right?). I had a stash of Throwback Pepsi that you could practically climb (Reason #1,312 that I LOVE Costco!). Toward the end, I couldn’t keep Cinnamon Toast Crunch in the house for fear of eating the whole box. I craved spaghettios. I made grilled cheese sandwiches with Kraft Singles. I even bought a bag of Salsa Rio Doritos that the people at Frito-Lay resurrected, as it felt, just for me. I stopped myself short picking up a Happy Meal with nuggets and hot mustard (Okay…so maybe I didn’t). I’m not a huge junk food eater, and the majority of the time we did NOT eat these things when I was little. So what was the deal?
I realized that these foods all represented memories for me. When I was little, Pepsi (with the real sugar) was the only soda we had in the house. It reminds me of my Dad. Cinnamon toast crunch was an occasional breakfast treat. I ate Spaghettios from the can at my Grandma’s house and after races at my swim meets. Grilled Cheese was the first thing I learned to cook on my own, and my mom would “request” it from me. Salsa-Rio Doritos were present at sleepovers with my best friend when I lived in Milwaukee..along with Green River soda and Girl Talk. A Chicken Nugget Happy-Meal was the treat I got on our road trips “Up North” to visit my Busia and Dzia-Dzia (For the Non-Polish, my Grandparents).
Meanwhile, Papa D. bought a “Cars” sticker book at the store, to which this conversation ensued:
Papa D: “It’s for the baby.” pointing to my 5-month-along belly.
Cashier: “Sure…I’m sure it is.”
Papa D: “No, really it is.”
Me: “Which is why it says ages 3 years and older on it, right?”
There’s something about a baby that really makes you start to find yourself, the child version of you, again. Something that makes you want to get down on the floor and play. Or examine the blades of grass and the clouds in the sky like it’s the first time you’ve seen them. It makes you want to remember everything that you are now truly thankful for having as memories.
Now, we can’t get through a trip to Target without one of us (I bet you can guess which one) running through the toy aisle saying “Ahhh!! Look at this!!”. We talk about trips to the zoo, the aquarium, and sneaking Baby D. out of school to take him to a Brewers game – just like someone in our lives did for us. We fight about who will build a better fort out of couch cushions and blankets. We laugh when we talk about playing “Ghosts in the Graveyard”. In all cases, we imagine his face lighting up, because we have old pictures of our own faces doing the same. I so badly want him to have those memories too. Being able to give him those memories means digging deep to set aside the work-mama, the cleaning-cooking-maintaining house mama, and remembering to slow down. And I will, because it is so unbelievably, truly, important to me. It’s been my favorite part of this journey so far, and I can’t wait to find out what other memories come flooding back as he grows.
What kind of nostalgia have your babies (or the babies you know) brought back to you?