I very rarely go to the mall.
But when my first daughter was seven months old in 2005, I flew to a SCW Mania in Dallas, Texas, for continuing fitness education (extremely worthwhile, but that's another story), and I felt as though those two days away from my baby would likely kill us all. And at a gift shop in Texas, a small brown bear sat smiling at me from a window and called to me to take it home to my daughter, making those two days apart just a bit more worthwhile and a little less unbearable.
Fast forward to 2012 and I found myself with my two daughters at the mall in Utah purchasing Build-A-Bears in memory of their recently lost grandmother. I was fascinated by the idea my children could make a wish on a heart, place it in the dolls of their choice, and then watch these sacks of fur inflate with life so tightly I thought the toys would burst. The ritualistic stuffing remained in my mind.
Fast forward to 2013 and my soon-to-be eight oldest daughter has been begging of me for the past year to "inflate" her sweet Texas teddy bear who is so loved he lays limp from the years of snuggles. And something spurred an urge in me today to finally take my kids to the mall and revitalize her childhood friend, continuing to keep at bay the two lost days of her infancy that plagued me so terribly for those first years of her life.
Why all the drama over lost time with my infant child? Because for six years before her birth I taught older adults fitness and as they awaited my first successful pregnancy I would hear on a daily basis, "Enjoy every minute. It goes by before you know it and you can't EVER get it back." I know they all meant well and I deeply valued their words.
But then my first child and three years later my second were born and the comments never ended. "Enjoy every minute. They grow up before you know it. You can't EVER get this time back." And here and now at the mall EVERY person walking by is saying, "Aw, you have beautiful children. Enjoy it. Every moment..."
Something no one tells new moms is that you will mourn the loss of an ever-changing being constantly because every three months and then slowly year after year the person your child was no longer exists as that same "stage" and what is coming up next may or may not be as beautiful as the stage before.
Not to be dismissive of the precious growth of a child, but change happens, adulthood happens, death will happen. What is THE moment I must catch and avoid being forever haunted by because of this constant onslaught of the passing of time?
The answer is: their is no specific moment, and almost every moment has some element of beauty. While at the mall, I noticed the women that took time to open my daughter's beloved toy, give it new life, and stitch it together for us was beautiful. And I may never see her again. And the sub that taught my youngest daughter's gym class was beautiful in that moment with her group of children; we may never see her again. And the class I took tonight with a grown male instructor and six other diverse students were all beautiful, and that class in that moment will never exist the same again. And the sunset on the way home from class that was BEAUTIFUL and unique to that moment in time is now gone.
And rather than caution the loss of time to others let's instead all see that so much more than the stages of childhood are beautiful. Regardless of age and possessions, beauty CAN BE in every passing moment and interaction. This photographer found one such moment and shared it:
My thought is that if you ever find yourself interacting with someone thinking what they have is worth acknowledging in that moment, look to your mirror. Give of your beauty freely and fill the supposed shortage. And then go to the mall, make a wish on a heart, and inflate a toy to life.
PS, At some point someone had to ask: what about more father-daughter moments?
Those are worth making more of, too...