Ashley's Time

There is a time for everything in life.  Like the cycles of the seasons, things in our life have a way of cycling around, like the development of childhood to teen-age years to the golden ages.   Things change and yet, the general rhythm of it stays the same. Life is funny that way.

Today is my youngest sister’s birthday.  I can still recall sharing a bedroom with her when she was just a baby. I was in about the sixth grade. I would be awoken by sounds of her either crying or cooing. Her crib was on one wall and my bed was on another wall.  She eventually learned how to stand up, peek over the headboard of her crib and stare at me. Something about that cute little baby girl staring at me made it hard to sleep. But also made me fall in love with her.  She had the darkest brown eyes with the cutest smile and spoke so cute when she began speaking. She, naturally, had the happiest disposition of all the babies I had known, when she was feeling good. I was the big sister, not the mother, thus I never had to deal with the hard stuff, doctor visits, feedings, cranky periods, discipline, teaching sharing,etc.  I just got the joys of playtime and could walk away whenever I wanted to.

Over the years, I saw my sister grow up. Many of those years, it was from afar, in some regards.  Our age gap was about 12 years.   I became a young mom myself so moved away when my sister was still quite young.   I still recall hearing her giggling at my first wedding. I am not sure if that is because she thought the marriage wouldn't last or she thought the idea of me being married was just plain silly.  Kids are brutally honest.   I think it was just her way of having a good time there; she was a happy girl in a pretty dress. 

Once my son was born, my sister, age 8, said she was the youngest aunt among her friends.  Not long after, my sister turned 10 and became an aunt again to a cute baby niece. My little baby girl was going to follow the same path of life I had watched play out with my younger sister.   Now, I was the one doing all the things I had recalled occurring when I was, years ago, lapsing in and out of my sister’s existence. I was taking the baby girl to the doctor, doing her night feedings, dealing with emotional little girl’s feelings.   I never remembered my sister being this emotional, but then again, from a young girls standpoint, things always look quite  different, especially when you don’t have the responsibility of another’s life in your hands.  But, the experience of it all, motherhood, I would not trade it for any other in the world.

It became so ironic at times to have a sister growing up and a daughter, just about ten years apart.  And in reality, so was I, growing and maturely, right there alongside of them.  My sister was so open and honest with me as her life unfolded with the various ups and downs. She appreciated my input, asked for it often and we laughed frequently over the stuff of life.

My youngest sister's wonderful family

My own daughter rejected my opinions.  She hated my line, "My goal in your life is not to be your best friend. Equally I heard,“Get a life” often than not during her formidable years.  When I began to listen was when I got divorced again.   Maybe she will realize, if she reads this, moms sometimes do actually listen to their teen age daughters for advice, even though it may not be intended that way.  I saw something in my daughter and in my sister that I had seen in myself years ago and I wanted back. That sparkle in their eyes, and I did find it.

The irony, at the time was having two young women in my life so very important to me that I loved, one who wanted me in their life and another who wanted me, most days,  to drop off a cliff and not be found until she turned 18.    Both provided me with so much laughter, learning lessons and memories to last a lifetime.  Both also provided me with glimpses of myself as I watched them grow and develop.

It seems like yesterday that my sister had a baby boy.  Her son was a total delight and to this day is one of the greatest joys in my life. There is something about him that just touches my heart strings in a way I truly can’t put into words. He was a small boy full of energy and magical charm. As my husband says to me, there is something about him that makes you love him as much as if he was your own.  He has a beautiful soul for a young man.   

Another child soon followed for my sister, after her son, with the same age gap as my children. Amazing how time changes but some things don’t. Our kids had the same age span and the same gender line up.  This daughter proved to be as challenging as mine.  Daughters, second born anyways, are not submissive personalities, in general.  But, they are, in our family anyways, driven to success, high achievers and have a will that is unbreakable. I am as proud of her as I am of my sister, my daughter and myself, all second born.

 It must be that my sister had even more love to give because she had another darling to bring into the world.  This last daughter, is the one that truly shows me the meaning of the circle of life. She also epitomizes all that is good in a family, wrapped up in one small child.

And thus began the life cycle of the youngest one in my youngest sister’s clan, the little baby girl who had big eyes, loved to coo and smile. This little girl has the temperament I remember her mommy having, from my perspective of the early days.  She is exceptional, her persona is just precious. She is graced with refreshing calmness, no pretense about her.  Always able to have a kind word for others, especially those in need, she was born with a kind soul beyond her years. She is like a breath of fresh air; refreshing and undaunted by the polluted air that surrounds her.   All the positive traits of the family were somehow rolled into one person, this little girl, without her knowledge. As she grows and develops over the seasons she may one day take the world by storm.  I watch for the flickers of reminders of my past; my sister’s and my daughter’s but know her path is a special one.
A cycle begins and continues. I am once more watching a girl develop, from afar.  When I see her, my niece, I am awe struck by some of her perfection at such a young age.  When I hear her voice on the phone, I am moved by her eagerness to engage.  When I see her face in pictures, I smile at how she lights up the screen with her willingness to embrace the world. 

Today, on my youngest sister’s birthday, I can’t help but reminisce.  All those years ago, there was this little head of long dark hair on this tiny baby girl. As I tried to sleep  I would wake up to hearing chattering in her bed. She was intent on getting my attention. I remember the times when I would have her out in public as a teenager and she would embarrass me by telling strangers I was her mother.  She was a character and knew how to enjoy life.  I see her youngest daughter going through this teasing with both her older siblings and I have to laugh; we all survive.

The little girl I knew grew up to be a beautiful woman.

The similarities of the life cycle for all of us is really more similar than not.  When I put together the attached video below, it was a trip down memory lane. It is, at first glance, a collection of photos of my niece.   But it is also one of all of us, my sister, my daughter and me.  It shows the similarities of us all; I can see periods in all of our lives through her eyes, my niece’s, her smile and her facial expressions.  But if you look close enough, and focus on the innocence of the pictures, it is a picture of everyone’s memory lane. 

These images recall times in life when the innocence was predominate in our eyes.   They show a child who has a joy of just being in the moment, over and over again.   My niece has a beautiful spirit and soul.  This is a blessing she has that I feel goes well beyond her years.  I too believe she is the one child I have met who will retain it.   I pray she is bigger and better than any of us that have come before her. 

May her images remind you of those moments in your life that you hold dear.  May you see in her eyes your times past that seemed fleeting but are actually etched in your memory. Maybe they just need to be pulled from the back of the closet, dusted off and put in a more prominent spot.   Photo albums are good ways to recapture our innocence.  Reminders of our past are like a history lesson, it helps us appreciate who we are and where we came from.   My niece is who she is because of my sister; I see my sister in every picture of her and her father too.

Though seasons change, and you as well, those memories of your growing up years are at the core of who you are and who you will always be.  

Life has so many rich experiences,
     The total collection must be treasured,
Don’t forget the small everyday moments
     Because their value cannot be measured.

Click here to go to Video Link

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