Recently, my daughter has started insisting on reading through her books on her own before bedtime. Given that she is not quite two, this includes a lot of page flipping, random words, and books quickly being flung aside. As she gets sleepier, she crawls into my lap and has me read out loud to her.
And as it always goes, I start to think back to my own childhood. I was a big reader. I loved books and I loved reading and I could often be found sitting in the walk in closet of my bedroom surrounded by clothes and other junk, book in hand oblivious to whatever else was happening outside that space.
The thing is I don’t know where I got this obsessive reading habit. My mom read her Italian romance novels and I recall my dad with his Spanish western novellas. And my mom used to read to me before bed. I also remember her sometimes making up stories for me. They were usually about a princess. Named Francesca. And usually she needed to do a better job at some chore. I also have a vague memory of her having me read to her at some point when she claimed I was a better reader.
I’d love to sit and ask her about this. And compare my habits to my daughter’s habits. I’d love to have my mom tell her granddaughter her made up bed time stories. I don’t get to have this luxury. I don’t have the luck of my mom being nearby to ask every single question that I have had in the nearly two years that I’ve been a mom.
When my daughter had her first 104+ fever, I cried. I cried because I didn’t know what to do. Who to call. How to fix it. I cried after I gave her Tylenol and left a message for the on call doc to run through suggestions, but I cried nonetheless. I cried because the one person I instinctively wanted to turn to was not around.
And I probably even cried a little more because I knew that even if my mom was still here, she would not necessarily have been able to answer the questions because of the dementia taking over her brain.
It’s hard to not miss this romanticized version of my mom. The one who could swoop in and tell me that the current crazy sleep pattern would end. The one who would make a honey and chamomile tea for my daughter’s cough. The one with the answers. It feels stupid, but it’s there.
And it’s been more present lately as we help my dad get the house ready for sale. It almost feels like we have to say goodbye to her all over again. She loved the house. My dad did not. They bought the house because my mom loved it so much. And now as we box up all the glasses (seriously, why are there so many glasses?) and dishes and whatever else we find, it becomes hard to not feel like there’s a sense of finality to this. Now I have to actually decide what to do with her sweater, her purse, and any other items I’ve put in a closet or drawer to be “dealt with later.” And I know I have to do it, so I will. But I don’t want to do it.
I have been very eager for my dad to sell the house. But I was not prepared for how emotionally draining this would all be for me. It’s incredibly sad and wistful making. I have a lot of mixed memories in that house. There’s the little I remember of my childhood before my mom became ill. And then there’s everything else. A lot of love, sadness, and anxiety. I feel like a new house is a much needed clean slate for my dad, but having to say goodbye to this house is completely gut wrenching.
I am trying to move forward and hold on to the memories and embrace what I feel as it comes up. I mean that sounds like the right thing? Let’s face it, I’ll probably keep being a bit of a mess about it. There are too many emotions wound up in all of this. But, really, when all is done, I need to move on.
And each night I will sit and read books with my daughter and hold on to each moment.