Thank you, Pixar and Disney, for making me a blubbery, sobby mess. Thank you for gently forcefully ripping my heart from my chest and using it to play ball for 109 minutes. Thank you for making me so emotional that my husband, when asking what I thought about the movie, had to make a hasty retreat as tears shot out of the corners of my eyes like daggers.
Thank you, Pixar and Disney, for Toy Story 3.
I took my kids yesterday to see the final installment of the Toy Story saga. It’s been 15 years since I saw the first Toy Story. I was a senior in high school. Now I’m a mom of three. And the message of this movie was not at all lost on me. Especially given the fact that Tia sat on one side of me clutching her beloved Lovey Bear and Landon sat on the other, his Sock Monkey nestled snug beneath his arm. I couldn’t help but look at those two little toys, both so loved and content at this moment. What will it be like in fifteen years when they are cast off – no longer needed for comfort and companionship?
Excuse me for a moment while I go sob in the bathroom…
It didn’t even dawn on me when we left the house that they were carrying those toys with them to the theater to see a movie about the fate of beloved toys. But looking at my babies as Andy drove away on the big screen with his faithful companions left to watch his tail lights fade in the distance, I got so terribly emotional. It doesn’t help that I’m slightly hormonal, or that it’s been a tough week parenting.
As we drove home after the movie, I glanced in the rearview mirror at these children of mine – children who I love desperately. Time goes by so quickly. Yesterday (or so it seems) I married Lee. And then I blinked and it’s suddenly ten years later. If I weren’t such a prim and proper lady I’d let out an expletive. Instead I’ll settle for a simple, WTH! How does it move so quickly?
I read this on Nicole’s blog yesterday:
“When you’re holding your baby and he’s falling asleep in your arms slowly and the evening is slipping away and your mind is racing through the thousand things at the top of your list, and you begin to feel – as all fathers and mothers inevitably feel from time to time – that you’re wasting your time taking care of this little kid, try to remember that next year you won’t be able to hold him in the same way, he won’t go to sleep in your arms, and after a few more years, you’ll be happy to get a hug on the run. Our children are here to stay, but our babies and toddlers and preschoolers are gone as fast as they can grow up – and we have only a short moment with each. When you see a grandfather take a baby in his arms, you see that the moment hasn’t always been long enough.” S. Adams Sullivan, The Father’s Almanac
This parenting thing is hard. “Enjoy it,” everyone tells you, “Because it goes by so fast.” Even a bunch of animated toys told me the very same thing yesterday. What no one tells you, though, is that sometimes you have to work really, really hard to enjoy it. And that is, perhaps, what had me most emotional. I know it goes by fast, I know I need to enjoy it, I know I need to cherish the moments because they’re over in the blink of an eye – but to be quite honest, I don’t always enjoy being a mom. I love my kids, of course. They are so much a piece of me that I hardly remember life without them. But raising them…it’s hard.
Of course, it’s supposed to be hard now. “Put in the hard work when they’re young so that when they grow into teenagers you can reap the rewards of that hard work.” This is another piece of sage advice I cling to. On the days when it feels like all I do is battle, I remember that it’s better to battle them now when the environment is controlled than to battle them as teenagers when the battlefield is full of hidden mines and has a much larger scope.
But I would be lying if I said that I enjoy every moment of every day. Because I don’t.
I do, however, enjoy more than I don’t enjoy. Stay with me…Yesterday, and the few days leading up to it, was a hard day. There were many battles, many fights, many tears. And I was battle weary. Today, this morning, has been filled with sweetness. The kids have played together this morning without argument (and when I say argument, I mean screaming bloody murder at one another – sorry to any neighbors who were awakened by Sloan and Tia’s death match on the front porch Sunday morning). They’ve been pleasant and sweet, obedient even. And it hasn’t been a stretch to enjoy them. Yesterday, I had to search a couple of times for ways to like them.
So I was partly grateful to Toy Story for reminding me, yet again, that the time I have with my children when they’re young is fleeting. Yesterday was one day. There will be more days like it – days when loving my children is easy but liking them is hard. But I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I dread this time in our lives coming to an end. There are sweet days to come, moments to celebrate, birthdays to rejoice in, milestones to accomplish – but the days of them sitting in my lap, a stuffed animal tucked beneath their arms…those days won’t last forever. And it’s those moments that I cherish the most. I tuck each one away in the crevices of my heart.
And I will now commence to crying once more. Dumb cartoon movie…