So the other day I was sitting on my front steps enjoying a mildly warm end of the afternoon. I sat gazing at the young couple across the street. They were out with their little one who is just learning to walk. They were laughing and playing, their dog barking, the baby taking a few steps and then flopping down on her butt… and then back up again 50x over. Mom and dad were pointing things out to the baby and encouraging her to touch a leaf, watch the deer nearby, and look up at the sky.
I sat there smiling remembering a time not all that long ago when my own kids were wee ones. They were 12, 10, and 8 when we moved here, and there was an elderly couple in that very house across the street. The lady’s name was Emma. We talked quite a bit and many a day she sat on her own stoop, or stood in the window with the curtain slightly drawn back, watching us play with our children in the front yard. We were always out there whether it was Frisbee, baseball, football, kick-the-can, freeze tag, or whatever the game of choice was that day. Filled with giggling, laughter, red, sweaty faces… and the neighborhood kids came to play too. (In fact one lady down the street thought we had 6 or 7 kids and was shocked to hear only 3 were actually ours).
One day Emma and I were talking by our mailboxes and she said with a smile on her face, “Oh how I love watching the children play, it reminds me of long ago when mine were little. That was such a long time ago, but I so enjoy watching them now. You are such good parents – always taking time to enjoy your family. That’s important.” She began to both smile and tear up as I walked her back to her porch from the end of the driveway.
I realized as I sat this day on my front stoop: I am now Emma. I am now the one pulling those memories from the recesses of my mind, memories I have tucked away. I see them in a different light now all these years later. Back then I was tired and heard the bickering over everything. I heard the “I’m hot”, “I’m tired”, “I’m bored”. I didn’t see it like Emma did from the window with the curtain pulled slightly back. But now, as I sit watching from across the street, I see my memories as Emma saw them. I see the good times, I hear the laughter, and I remember days of old differently. Perhaps in the way I should have seen them in the first place.
I wonder 20 years from now what I will see when I draw back the curtain.
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