Early Fall 2012 -- Looking Back to Appreciate Now
To celebrate our 30th year of being in business, we're re-running one of our most popular 'Dear Friends' letters from the past. The following appeared in the catalog 20 years ago:
While thoroughly dusting our family's bookshelf awhile back, I ran across a tattered, well-loved copy of Goodnight Moon. Putting the cleaning operation on hold, I sat on the floor, opened the book, and read it aloud, my echoing voice searching the empty house for some small ears to fill. I wondered when the last time I'd ever read it to Evan had been. Was he perhaps three then? Was it at bedtime or in the middle of the afternoon, as I was trying to get Chinaberry orders out, that he had last asked for that book? Whenever it was, I felt no angel tapping me on the shoulder, telling me to stop and cherish that moment for it would be the very last time I'd be
reading Goodnight Moon to my child. What was really a special occasion just sort of slid by without my knowing it was -- well -- the end of an era.
Every time I fold the diapers that have now become the mainstay of our rag bag, I feel the same way. How many times did I put on and take off and wash this very diaper that now serves us so well for washing the car or mopping up spills? Was it in the wee hours of some morning or during a trip to the playground that I pinned my very last diaper? I wish I would have known at the time what a passage that moment was. Instead, it was just business as usual, and the moment was gone. The same goes for that Fisher-Price boat Elizabeth had to have in the bathtub with her when she was a toddler. I placed it on the side of the tub after her bath one night, like I always did, but it had been played with the last time already, and I didn't know it. It was only a few months later, while preparing a Salvation Army bag, that I realized yet another phase had passed.
This past summer, something made me slow down, to do only one thing at a time. (If you knew me, you'd know how uncharacteristic this is.) I've always envied people who need only 4 hours of sleep a night because, fantasizing, I immediately translate those extra awake hours to more books read, a garden weeded, time spent volunteering somewhere, a new bread recipe tried, or my desk organized, for once. Simply put, there just aren't enough hours in the day for me to do everything I'd like to do. (Having heard my 'Life’s too short to be bored!' diatribe one too many times, my children now use 'the B word' to refer to 'bored' and make it a point to not act 'B-ed' around me.) I tell you this because if I can slow down, almost anyone can. The catalyst was finding remnants of the past -- like frayed diapers and our old Goodnight Moon in that dusty, overflowing bookcase -- and realizing that nearly every day holds a 'last' just as it likely holds a 'first.' Nothing will ever be quite the same as it is today. It is only by living each moment as if it were the most important moment of my life that I can sense both the magic and immensity of my job as a parent. This past summer, it all clicked -- because I slowed down.
We spend so much time looking forward -- anticipating the birth of our baby, awaiting that first step, sweating out who's going to make the All-Star soccer team, saving for a college education -- that it is easy to miss the NOW. It seems like a paradox that it took running across things from the past to make me better able to savor the present, but that's just how it worked out for me. And even though I felt no angel tapping me on the shoulder to tell me that I was reading Goodnight Moon to Evan for the very last time, I believe one was there while I dusted the bookshelf, sorted through the rags, and packed up the Salvation Army bag. My wish for you this season is that one visits you too, whenever you need your reminders.