Nostalgia Bottled Up


watermelon On the way home from Palm Springs, we stopped by my parent’s house for my nephew’s 9th birthday party.  My parents still live in the same home they moved to when I was 10, in the same town I grew up in.  Because we were coming from a different direction than usual, we got off on the north side of the town, and drove down streets I hadn’t been on in probably 15 years, or more.  We drove by houses and pockets of neighborhoods I hadn’t thought about in years.  Past the apartment building I remember my older sister living in for a short time, past the park where I rode the merry go round over and over.  We drove by an old duplex and small little California bungalow my cousin and Uncle both used to live in.  Places I had long since forgotten, but came rushing towards me with just a single glance.

I suddenly remembered that my oldest cousin had a covet worthy Barbie collection, an entire collector’s series all still in boxes.  I had a vision of looking at her exotic “Indian” Barbie, wondering why a grown woman needed such toys, and why I couldn’t have it.  I peered out the window, with my nose pressed against the glass, just like a child, only answering with a grunt every now and then when Art or the kids spoke to me.  When I had come out of my trance and we approached my parent’s home, I told Art about the houses my family had lived in throughout this town, surprised since he only ever knew them living in different parts of the state.  I had this sad feeling, that it must be hard for the older generations to see the coming and goings of family members, at once knitted together by not only the common thread of shared DNA, but of shared geographical roots, now unraveled, strewn across the country.  I imagined it must be hard for my parents to see so many family members go, with just a couple of them still remaining.  No longer easy to just get together on a whim, with miles and miles now separating them, I wonder if they ever think of this time with fondness, or if the thought just makes them get a pit in their stomach.

I get that pit in my stomach when I get flashbacks of memories.  Like when driving down that road in the neighborhood I grew up in.  Or for years, when I thought of Christmases as a child and how they never seemed to live up the older I got.  I got it when it was time to say goodbye to our friends this weekend, after spending a great couple of days with them in the desert.  I used to think that pit was a bad thing.  But now that I’m older I recognize it more as a longing for good times to last forever.  Nostalgia if you will.  The memories are sometimes sweeter and more heart wrenching to recall, than actually living them.

Once back home and unpacked on Monday afternoon, we took advantage of the day off to grab lunch with just Hayden.  The older two had stayed over at Grandma and Grandpa’s, so it was a rare occurrence to just have one child in tow.  At one point I went to the ladies room, and as I stood in line at the sink, waiting to wash my hands, I observed a young mom of a 6 or 7 year old, helping her little girl wash her hands.  At the sink next to her stood an older woman, at least 60, with children long grown and gone, if she had any.  And at that moment, I realized I was going to deeply miss this stage.  This past year, maybe next year too.

We hear and read it over and over, heck, there are books and blogs dedicated to the “simple” idea of living intentionally.  Savoring the moment.  Slowing down, making the most of moments, small and simple.  For the first few years of parenthood, I didn’t get it.  I had people telling me I better slow down and live intentionally or else I’d live to regret it, and so I tried to be “present” and “intentional” and all those other buzz words.  I slashed our schedule and got down on the floor with my kids but man it was hard.  Not to be with my children.  Well actually, yes, at times it was hard to be with my children.  To say no when the opportunity to play with friends passed us by, to not God forbid, “over-schedule” our lives.  But by goodness I tried and when I sat there playing with my kids, distracted and mind somewhere else, I felt guilt.

Having young kids so close in age was hard and looking back, there’s moments but not years or months even, where I think my goodness I miss it.  But right now, I know I will miss this.  This age, where curiosity is at its finest, where innocence is still palpable and worth protecting, but interest in the great big world is on the tip of their tongues, just waiting to be whispered, “Mommy, what else is out there?”  This stage when we have a baby who is so sweet and delicious, it takes all your might to not nibble on him all day long.  With older siblings who wouldn’t even think to harm him or be resentful of him.  No sibling rivalry, just pure utter adoration.

This stage is bliss.  This moment in our lives is exactly what I know will be missed.  A time when I can’t remember ever feeling so happy on a daily basis, so grateful, so appreciative that a tray of cut up watermelon on Memorial Day could bring tears to my eyes.  This stage, when looked back on years from now when the kids are all grown and there’s no more bedtime stories to be read and diapers to be changed or laundry to wash, I will get that pit in my stomach.  And I will having such a longing for this time back and be hit with such strong feelings of nostalgia I’ll try with all my might to bottle it up and hold onto it forever.

This past weekend was wonderful.  It was jam packed and busy and eventful, and at one point we looked at each other and said, “are we doing too much?”  Art replied, “Yes, but you only live once.”  I’ve slowly started to realize over the last few months, as I’ve somewhat come out of the newborn fog, that living intentional for me, at least for the time being, is saying “yes” to things, even though there’s books in print telling me to slow down, don’t do too much.  To take out my phone and snap a million pictures, even though there’s a whole movement out there telling me to put my phone away.  To embrace the events life throws at us.  To soak up our friends and family as often as we can.  To give my kids the opportunity to let friendships bloom and pursue experiences that allow them to stretch and grow.  For me anyhow, I’ve realized that being intentional doesn’t mean slowing life down to a halt, but meeting it head on in an embrace, so that we can dance and stumble and fall, and rise together.   Because eventually, one day, I’ll look back at this time and wish I had done more to preserve it, to hold onto it, to cherish it, to memorialize it, to bottle it up and open its contents on a rainy day.

I came across this post, via Jules, over the weekend, encouraging a return to simple story telling, a return to old fashioned blogging, if you will.  While I’ve grown almost as weary of these types of posts, as I have of how numbers orientated blogging has actually become, it really resonated with me.  I even joined the Facebook group!  At my old blog, I used to write.  Actual stories and tales of our lives, and my feelings.  Some of my favorite writing pieces are actually housed on my old blog and I sometimes go back and read them for nostalgia.  While I’m very happy and proud with what I’ve done here in this space, I do at times, really miss “writing” and not just giving bullet point tips of how to dress for your body, or beautiful DIY shots for you to “hopefully” pin and share.  So today I thought I’d try my rusty hand at a little bit of the written word and share with you what has been on my heart and mind the last couple of days.  Do not fret, For the Love Of isn’t about to become a personal blog, but every now and then it would be nice to practice my hand at writing in this space.  I hope you will oblige me in that.  Have a beautiful day friends. 

Andrea is the founder of For The Love Of, a lifestyle blog dedicated to approachable, modern living. She writes about style, her love of DIY, and living a healthier life through wholesome, nutritious cooking. She is also a regular contributor at Babble. Get in touch: Facebook, Twitter You can find Andrea on Instagram @andreavhowe and @gwynethmademedoit

  • Amber says:

    Holy Moley that was good… I could feel the same pit in my stomach forming as I was reading… I appreciate your writing.

  • Ginger says:

    I read that post too, thanks to Jules. I loved it and I am glad you are on board because I love your posts.

  • amber says:

    I get that same feeling. Whenever we have a great weekend with friends or just enjoying each other, I look up and find myself never wanting it to end. I’m loving where we are at now in life and have realized that even though the last few weekends have been jam packed it has been a good busy, not rushed and panicked busy, but a fully engaged living in the moment busy and I’m learning that it’s not always a bad thing.
    I love the writing and think that even within your style posts your writing comes through and it’s not just a bullet point and image, there’s enough of that out there. I truly enjoy the style/fashion bloggers who tell the whole story and not just display the image.
    Keep it up lady!

  • Nicole says:

    Great post Andrea. I’m struggling with a lot of these feelings right now. We’ve lived in a town with no family for 13 years. Recently we started considering moving near our middle (grown) daughter to be near family. I feel so guilty ALL the time. Like I’m robbing my son (our youngest and only one left at home) of “family time”. We went on a hike and picnic this weekend and he said “look mom all these families are here and it’s just us, it’s always just us”. Then later he said that makes him sad. I grew up with tons of family and cousins….all of us living near each other.

    You do seem so happy and that’s wonderful.

  • beautiful. i love personal stories so go for it!

  • kristen says:

    I love the way you blog now, but I did love your long rambling posts of ole (from Four flights of fancy) 🙂 Bring ’em back on occasion!

  • Anastasia @ eco-babyz says:

    I know this, I know I’ll miss it, but some moments it’s so hard to realize that. My 18 month old is having crazy behavior changes, it’s so hard to enjoy it when I’m walking on eggshells all day trying to not do anything that may set off a tantrum. Redirecting him all day is exhausting! I already miss him as an infant! Yet, throughout the day I keep noticing the adorable things he does, the way he talks, everything about him just makes me want to eat this little munchkin. I know I will miss it, I guess that’s just life – you miss things when they are gone.

  • Rena says:

    So, so, so well said. It made me weepy. Happy weepy. 🙂

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