The other night, as we were on our nightly family walk, trekking up the steep hill across the street from our house, something dawned on me.
I watched my 4.5 year-old and 5.5 year-old race Daddy up the hill and I realized we hadn’t needed our red wagon all summer.
It was early August and we hadn’t used it at all. Not once. In fact, it hadn’t even come out of our garage all summer. TBH, I’m not even 100% sure my husband hasn’t already trashed it.
My oldest son received our red wagon as a gift on his first birthday from his grandparents. At the time, I was 8 months pregnant with his little brother. For four summers, that wagon went everywhere with us. We took it on vacation and it transported my boys back and forth from the beach to the house. We took it trick-or-treating for little bodies to rest in as we went house-to-house. One year, I even made it into a fighter jet to match their Top Gun Halloween costumes. We took it to the lake and to the park. We took it everywhere. In addition to the big events, our red wagon was there for, we also used it every night for family walks after dinner.
Last summer was the first time I found myself not working full time outside of our home and a morning walk with our wagon became part of our daily routine.
On one particular morning, as I was pulling the wagon up that previously mentioned steep hill, I noticed a neighbor from the top of the hill watching me as she drank her morning coffee on her back deck. I was struggling, like, big time (seriously guys, this hill is really steep). Between my two growing boys, that wagon was now carting about 70lbs. In addition to the increasing weight it was carrying, our wagon had also acquired a ‘wonky wheel.’ As husbands do, mine had tried, unsuccessfully, to ride the wagon down the steep hill. As I struggled up the hill, I suppose, there was a part of me that knew our time with this beloved wagon was coming close to the end.
When I reached the top of the hill, I stopped to catch my breath. Then, I rounded the corner to continue our walk. As we began to pass the house where I had noticed our neighbor watching me from her back deck, I realized that she had relocated to her front porch. When I passed her house, she called out to me,
They’ll remember what you’re doing for them, forever.
Because I’m incredibly awkward, I think I just waved and replied, “Thank you” as I continued on.
But that night, watching my boys run up that very same hill, I wondered… would they really remember this forever? I’d nearly forgotten about it myself.
Time moves so fast and we just move with it. From one summer to the next, my kids went from babies who needed to be pulled up a hill by Mommy to big kids who race Daddy up that very same hill. Childhood is fleeting, memories fade, and I die a little bit inside every time I’m reminded of this.
In just a few days, my baby, my 4.5 year-old will start full-day Pre-K.
The house will be empty and our lives will never be the same. I’m sure I’ll find ways to fill my time, like, maybe our house will actually stay clean and I’ll actually put away our laundry (but probably not). Soon, our lives will be dominated by school events, homework, sports, and activities (ALL the activities). These slow, relaxed, blissful pre-school years will be nothing but a distant memory. Just a memory. And, even the best of memories fade over time.