Antique Childhood

Liquid Time

Have you ever looked at your child and seen your own face? And maybe your child doesn’t look so much like you, but there is something that he does, some little expression that he makes that is unmistakably yours. And just for a split second, the thread that has stitched all of humanity and history together is brilliant and visible and eternity suddenly makes sense.

Last year, when I was in Illinois visiting my parents, a neighbor brought over some old Super 8 movie footage that had been hiding in a closet for 40 or more years. On it were scenes from a birthday party from when her girls and I were little, maybe four or five years old.

There wasn’t but a few seconds of me on the video, but seeing myself at that age, especially now  that Sean is that same age, was something beyond eerie. It was like watching liquid time being poured out into my cupped hands, spilling over the sides and slipping through my fingers.

In watching myself as a 4-year-old, I realized that like me, Sean wears every emotion on his face — twitches, twists and puckers that telegraph every thought and feeling.

And so I asked God, why did you make him so much like me, unable to hold his cards to his chest?  He will never be able to negotiate a car deal or even a nickel off on a garage sale item.

I thought of that old Super 8 film yesterday as I sat on a park bench, watching Sean as he came barreling down a slide. The wind blew the hair from his face in just the right way and he wore a familiar expression of unfiltered exhilaration. But instead of a boy on a slide, this is what I saw:

brother and me

A whole lot of time has been poured out since I sat on the hood of the family car with my brother on a windy day in the early 60s and I haven’t been able to hold on to a single drop.

And I haven’t even wanted to.  Until now.

Now, as I sit on a park bench watching a little boy who looks something like me zip down the slide with the wind in his face, I want to catch every drop and drink it up.

36 thoughts on “Liquid Time

  1. Oh, the wisdom of an antique mommy. Don’t let anything– not even good things– get in the way of the attitude you have now, even when he’s a teenager. I have such a little bit of time to savor now, and it’s difficult at this point to get to spend time with my son. Also, tryng to find the balance between the commenting I feel is necessary to instruct him and holding back because of his alienation if I comment too much is hard. By the way, yes, he does look like you.

  2. I usually write pretty meaty comments…or funny poetry… but for some reason on your blog my comments are limited to a stammering…”wow” or “I have no words.”

    Once again, too beautiful for words.

  3. How beautiful! I too am a 60’s child – 1964 to be exact! I love reading your blog – you reach down into the inner depths and write so beautiful! Isn’t it amazing how God designs a family? Just Perfect!

  4. I love when that happens (have two sons myself). It makes me love myself more, because I love them so. Gives me an inkling of how much God loves each of us.

  5. Oh my, that boy DOES look like you. My husband and I were just this morning discussing our separate “quirks” that had linked themselves to our children’s DNA–expressions, feelings, ways of looking at the world that we’ve not taught–they are written on their cells. Your writing only gets better.

  6. I’ve never met (or seen) Antique Daddy – but boy oh baby boy – Sean looks so much like you!

    Hold onto every moment like you do – because what I’ve learned is that if you watch it pour and feel it go through your fingers, you remember it all, and it never ever truly goes away.

  7. The first time my toddler (years ago) stood in front of a display at a store where he was to pick out something and said, “Hmm. Let’s see”, with his hands on his hips, I knew I was experiencing the circle of life. The little bits of me can be a joy at times. At other times, not so much. : )

  8. You’ve held onto it through your words and your pictures. These are priceless memories, measured with words, and filled in with the imaginations and warmth of a heart that was made for such a holding.

    Beautiful.

    peace~elaine

  9. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my eleven year old daughter out of the corner of my eye and it catches my breath. It’s like seeing through the looking glass, and like Sean, she doesn’t look exactly like me, but from behind, or in profile or mannerism it is so familiar that sometimes it makes me want to cry.

  10. Beautifully written. And I know I’ve said this several times, but now that I’ve seen a childhood photo of you it confirms is: your boy radiates YOU.

  11. Yes, you poured yourself into Sean and I’ll wager that the best parts showed up in him. Your face is his now and his heart is probably formed in your image. How cool is that?

  12. I love this blog. I not only have seen that in my own children, but the scary thing is, sometimes when one of my grand-daughters looks a certain way or body English or something happens, I can see it then too. Weird. Someone has already noted that, without seeing any baby pictures of me, my 9 month old grand-daughter looks like me. WHUUUUUUUUUT???? was my reply. Thank Heavens I was a cute baby!!!!

  13. AM, I know eXactly what you mean. I could have written this post (er, if I was an eloquent writer, like you, but I’m so NOT). See? Another eXquisite post. Your word crafting amazes me.

  14. I think what you had would be classified as an epiphany – a life changing moment.

    That was the answer, so now your task is to figure out what the question was that it answered.

    To me, moments like you experienced are why we are all here in the first place.

    beautiful metaphor….by the way

  15. My poetic (apologies up front here) response to another thought provoking and lovely blog entry is as follows:
    Life is precious, we learn at last
    As years go by and we reflect on the past
    We find bits of our parents and grandparents, as well
    Showing up in our mirror, as clear as a bell.
    Then upon closer inspection, our child becomes us
    And we savor the moment with nary a fuss.
    It’s God’s way of reminding that time drifts by fast
    Engulfs us, surrounds us, and leaves us at last
    But our imprint remains here on this old earth
    And will continue to emerge as the generations give birth.

  16. Our kids are such a rich blend of me and my husband. Every once in a while I see myself as a kid or my husband as a boy…and it gives me quite a start. But a good one.

  17. My older two kids look nothing alike, so my “bonus” baby came along (when I was an antique mommy) and is the missing link. He looks so much like both of them and like me and my husband that there are constant debates about it. It makes me wonder if I’d had about 6 kids, would they all eventually look alike? Absolutely fascinating, especially as different people see different likenesses.

  18. Wow beautiful. We are the same age and my baby boy turns 18 July 5th. I concur that liquid time falls right through the fingers fast! God is true to his words though each phase of life you will be ready for.
    This was beautiful and Sean looks exactly like you, no doubt!!!
    I will have a senior this year!!

  19. I can relate. My mom gave me a portrait of myself from when I was 3 yrs old. I didn’t have a place for until last year, when my daughter was 3 yrs old. When I hung it up, she looked at me so seriously and asked, “Mommy? Is that me?” It is amazing how much she looks like me at that age. Guests to our house often ask the same question, thinking it’s a portrait of my daughter.

  20. I’m a ’63 baby. I see myself in ‘Belle’ my 7 year old. Not just her expressions but her temperament, too.

    She’s a little rascal!

    Beautiful post as always.

  21. WOW. I stop by all the time, but this time I was laughing so hard I damn near busted the stitches on my new face lift, and I can’t let that happen!

    I so enjoy stopping by for a slice of your wisdom and your words and view. I am a busy antique mommy myself and I appreciate you and Melody over at Slurping Life, and the gal at My Tiny Kingdom and the one at Rocks in my Dryer, more than any of you will ever know.

    I don’t get out much, but I know that we can’t all be wrong! We all go through the same things, it is just the ones that can tell the story in a way that touches the heart and sum it up. You are one of the best. I love you.

    A

    Please keep it up!

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