Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Neighbor Taught Me To Savor A Childhood

I kept saying to Chris, "This feels like summer."  One of our favorite summer memories to date is playing in Eagle Creek Lake on the giant inflatable slide and trampoline.  

Cooper competed in the competitive banana event at his swim meet!

A week of summer spent with cousin Grace calls for celebrating with sweet treats.  

I glanced out my kitchen window and gazed upon the sight in my backyard.  My neighbor sat on our swing; her three-year-old daughter, clad in a pretty pink sundress, was pushing her mother backward and forward.  Mother and daughter both wore smiles on their faces and I could hear the giggles from my kitchen window.  I have seen this scene many a time from this neighbor and her daughter.  

This daughter was an "oops" baby (I think...never having the guts to actually ask), as she has two older sibling: one in high school and one in college.  Although this little girl may not have been planned, she is deeply loved as evidenced by my backyard observations.

I've noticed my neighbor makes time for her daughter.  She'll sit with her little girl in the grass and pick apart the dandelions.  She'll attend patio tea parties and follow her tot around as she explores backyard bugs and other critters.

I often wonder if the neighbor mom behaved this way with her older children.  I've never asked, but I'm guessing she would say no.  I imagine that she's discovered from her teens how quickly a childhood can evaporate and the preciousness of those little moments.  In some ways, I wonder if this is her second chance to savor sweet memories.

When I gaze at this lovely neighbor and her daughter, I am reminded to relish time with my children.  And so I try to hang up the dish towel and put down the broom and go out and enjoy the boys.

And that's what I did this week.  On Tuesday we loaded up the kids and headed to our city park.  We heard whispers that an amazing slide sat on the lake.

Rustic would be a generous description of our city's lake and beach.  But once we looked past the weeds, the rusty fences, and murky water, we gazed upon the inflatable slide with attached trampoline and water play.  After successfully passing the swim test and adorning a life jacket, we swam out to the floating oasis.

It was paradise.  The kids climbed up and over the slide too many times to count.  They leaped on the trampoline, smiling bigger and bigger with each additional bounce.  They played chicken, wrestled, chased, and laughed for hours.

And Chris and I....we did the same.  At times, I felt a bit like I had slipped into a 16-year-old version of myself.  I was laughing and running around like a juvenile, looking nothing like the 40-year-old mother I am.

And I was having fun with my children.  We clutched hands and bounced in unison on the trampoline.  We raced down the slide.  We pushed each other into the water, emerging from the lake with a grin.

As our time at the lake was coming to an end, I sat on the trampoline and took in the scene.  This was one of those childhood moments that I had the good blessing to enjoy with my children.  It was a moment that would etch in my memory for years to come.  

My neighbor would be proud that she inspired those beautiful moments.  



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