I've spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of parent I want to be. Some things change a bit as Girl X gets older. I find myself comparing my childhood to the one that I am providing for them.
Hurricane has a cold and he's teething and is therefore not sleeping well. At midnight I sat in his room, rocking with him, making that 'shhhhh' noise that seems to soothe him, gently rubbing his back. Our house was quiet. Outside I could see the streetlight and see that the wind was blowing. It struck me then what was missing.
I have never slept well, never been able to sleep through the night. When I was a kid and would wake up, my bed beneath my window, I could reach my hand up and feel the cool draft. If the wind was blowing, it rattled my single pane window. Our house was very old and in the middle of town. A quiet street with a big old tree just outside my window and to the right. The windows were large, single-paned, younger than the house but still very old. There was paint on them along where the trim lay. Our house creaked. We had hidden spaces in closets where if you pushed on the wall, you could slide it over and have enough space to hide your diary or as I got older, booze and love letters. In the summer, we'd sleep with the windows open and be woken up by the smell from the chocolate factory that was just around the corner. Weekends were for the beach and the sand. But we rarely saw eachother. We hid in our rooms. I was the youngest and I watched my siblings get their licenses and disappear. Before that, we rarely all ate dinner together. It wasn't sports or other after-school activities that kept us apart. It's just that there was nothing to really keep us together.
Here, now. This house is new, 5 years old. The windows don't rattle. There are no chocolate factories to haunt during the summer months when the smell could cover the town. Our street is quiet enough but I don't know many of my neighbors. We eat together every night. We help Girl X with her homework and play board games, crafts, movies. We find those things we always wanted to do as kids and do it. It is as it was when I was very young. During a time that it is hard to recall. It is as I want it to be when the kids get older. Vacations, day trips to museums and playgrounds.
We talk. Our days, the joke Girl X heard on the playground, Hurricane's new word. We stress the importance of charity; that it's not a person's ability to throw a ball, paint a picture or sing that makes them good. It's the good that they do for others that makes them a hero. We talk about the value of taking care of your health; something no one in our family can ever take for granted. We talk about whether or not pigs can talk when no one is listening.
As I get older, I find it's the quiet moments I appreciate most. Whispering in the dark with Girl X about things that happened at school last week or what she wants to be someday (currently it's a teacher). Curling up on the couch to watch a movie while the kids are asleep. Rocking in Hurricane's room at midnight, watching the wind move the trees over my neighbor's house.
But I miss those windows. I miss the light rattle and the cool draft on a quiet night.