He has told me many times, my husband, about the summers of his youth. As his father was a teacher they were able to go away all summer with a tent to a campsite in France. Even though they did not have a lot of money, they were able to scrape what they had together, load their little car full of supplies and make their way to their magic place. He told me how he and his two brothers were able to roam the campsite and the river with its waterfalls and abandoned mill all day every day in a way only kids from the ‘70s could. He and his brothers would have many adventures and discoveries, from finding fossils when he was 5 to kissing girls behind the waterfall when he was 15. Their parents would drink wine, chat with the neighbors and just generally enjoy life. At night the kids would come home to the tent and tell their parents about their day
His mother died 12 years ago unexpectedly while she and her husband were planning many more years together. His father is doing very well, he comes to visit us in the US once a year and really enjoys the bustle of our daily life. He talks a lot about his wife, the love of his life, but he also still travels the world and attends courses at university. During his last visit he brought tapes from their vacations in France. Sometimes, they would take the tape recorder in the evenings and recorded the boys talking.
A few weeks ago my husband and I sat in our car which still has a tape deck and listened to one of the tapes. With tears streaming down my face I was taken back into time while listening to my parents in law chatting with the kids. I heard my husband as a 6 year old talking about the beautiful stones he found and his brother told a joke he learned that day. I heard his father sing to his wife: I love you my wife, my little wife, I grab you here and I pinch you there’ and his wife giggling and shushing him so the kids could not hear. I could hear his younger brother’s baby sounds and his father trying to get him to sleep.
After listening to this, it struck me, deeply, maybe in such a way only people with a near death experience get to realize, that THESE ARE THE DAYS. The song even got stuck in my head: “Those were the days my friend…”
My husband and I dream a lot. We dream of a simpler past and often of the future, when the kids are older and most of them out of the house: we plan to travel again, buy a plane, go live in Asia… We especially dream about this after an exhausting day filled with diapers, cat fights between our three kids, making dinner, cleaning up again and talking about our ever worrying finances. Like we have to get this kid phase out of the way before starting to live again. But…. No….. THESE are the days! These days also filled with chatting at the dining table, wet kisses and rocking to sleep, snow ball fights and summer days on a hot beach hoping the kids will not drown. The days of discovering life through our children’s eyes. These are the best of our lives, even though they often do not seem to be.
I know my father in law would give anything to go back to those days and will happily also take the chaos, the exhaustion and money worries with them.
Ever since listening to that tape I look at my kids and my life differently. I still dream about flying back to Asia but I do not want those times to come quickly anymore! No, I want time to go as slow as possible and stay here, with my kids, in the messy house, the limits in time, space and money and love it! Enjoy it! Wallow in the carpet stains and sticky faces and know: these are the days my friend, we think they will never end, but they will….
Marielle is a traveler, world citizen, mother of a magic toddler and two wonderful step children, party organizer and admirer of life in general. Lately the urge to put her life and thoughts on paper has struck and it comes up with bursts and bouts like a hesitating geyser. Sometimes hot, high and steamy, sometimes disappointingly cool and low, but always gratifying.