Friday, September 12, 2014

Loving the Bye-Bye

{I just came across this essay that I wrote many years ago, and a form of it was published in a now-defunct magazine.  The crux of it was edited out (mind-boggling and heart-breaking).  Anyway, even though it's old -- we don't have the Bye-Bye any more and now it's Wyatt, two kids later, who comes to our room every night and now it's Kimye, not TomKat -- everything I said here is what I still feel and pertinent to this blog.  Enjoy!}
Matt in Gibraltar, climbing out of the Bye-Bye during its hey-day.  Jayna in the foreground, my big girl so tiny!!  Can you believe they called  this a parking spot?!?
 The following words will destroy any coolness factor I may have: I love my mini-van.  With just my thumb, I can open and close the doors and windows.  It runs smooth, seats eight, and has a six-CD changer and triple-zone climate control to satiate our music preferences and inner thermostats.  The only problem with it is that my daughters still love The Bye-Bye.

The Bye-Bye is our old car -- a four-door sedan, the first car we ever purchased brand spanking new.  Its paint is called something like "Bronzed Pewter" by the manufacturer, a fancy way of saying shiny taupe.  Nothing is automatic, not even the transmission.  I roll down windows and unlock doors the old-fashioned way.  It goes sixty miles per hour… sooner or later.  After almost a decade, the air-conditioner and CD player still work, it gets forty miles to the gallon on the freeway, and it's the first car I ever owned that I didn't have sweet-talk into starting.  So I can honestly say that I have a healthy respect for the Bye-Bye.  But love?  Not exactly.

The girls, however, truly love the Bye-Bye.  The other day, I ran a quick errand.  "Want to come with me?" I asked Skyler, my second daughter. 

"No thanks." She didn't look up from her game or even pause for a second's thought.

That's when I dangled the worm that I knew would catch her.  "I'm taking the Bye-Bye…" 

She ran to get her jacket.   

I understand the love.  My eldest daughter, Jayna, was buckled in her infant carseat as we drove it off the lot.  Skyler came home from the hospital in it.  It traveled with us to Spain for a three-year military tour.  The Bye-Bye was always there; the mini-van is just a flashy Johnny-come-lately. 

It's one of those things that demonstrates how both girls love what stays the same in their lives.  They are just like their mother in that way.  The fastest way to send me into Panic Mode is to utter the C word: change.  "What will I have to give up?" I wonder, or, "Where will this take me?  Where will it send the ones I love?" 

And with the omnipresence of change, it often seems that the question should no longer be, "What's new?" but, "What isn't new?"  DVD players took over the VCR's that were a technological marvel in my childhood.  Brangelina and TomKat have replaced Bennifer.  Pink is the new black.  Orange is the new pink.  Thirty is the new twenty, and fifty the new thirty.  Therefore, I treasure all the more the fact that my husband has had the same haircut for our entire marriage or restaurants that never omit "my usual" from their menus.

To be sure, some change is for the better.  I'm thankful that women can vote.  I appreciate the enormous advances in telecommunications that allow me to be in touch with friends in Australia that I haven't seen in years.

But my knee-jerk reaction is to create boulders that -- over the years, the varied locales, the additions and subtractions in our lives -- declare, "This will not be moved."  Friday nights are Nacho Nights, Saturday mornings are for pancakes.  Stories and prayers come before bedtime.  Ouchies get kisses and band-aids; good grades get a dinner out.  Because this is what I want my children to know wherever change takes them: that my love is for always.

Ironically -- frustratingly -- it seems to be only what I wish would change that never does.  But as I witness my daughters loving the Bye-Bye -- with all its flaws -- I can't help but think that maybe I'm missing something.  Maybe the answer isn't always fighting to keep things the same while wishing I could alter circumstances or irritating personality quirks.  Maybe, sometimes, it is in accepting what I can't change, and loving wholeheartedly in spite of it, that I best demonstrate my devotion.                

I realized this one recent night, as the clock on my bedside table glowed 2:13 and I rolled over to find Skyler standing next to me.  She and Jayna share a room adorned in pink and purple princess décor.  They each have their own cozy and beautiful bed.  And yet, almost every night, there is a rush of footsteps down the hall and suddenly, in the doorway, a small and barely discernible silhouette appears.  A kicking, blanket-stealing Skyler climbs under the covers and before long Matt and I find ourselves bruised, cold, and balanced precariously on the edges of our bed.
 In an effort to preserve our sleep, we have bribed and cajoled her -- all to no avail.  We've tried locking our door, which only results in distraught wailing that quickly dissolves our determination.  We tuck her in with fingers crossed, hoping that nothing will awaken her till the morning.  Sometimes we're lucky, but not often.  So I wasn't the least bit surprised to find her standing there. 

"What's wrong?" I whispered groggily, though I already knew the answer.

"I need to sleep in your bed."  

I was tired, trying hard in my sleep-addled state to summon some willpower.  "What's the matter with yours?" 

"There's no one to cuddle!" 

All too quickly, I could feel myself relenting. "You could cuddle Jayna in her bed," I suggested, immediately recognizing the futility of my proposition. 

"No!  I want to cuddle you!" 

How could I argue with that? 

Fully aware that soon her foot would be wedged into my ribs and that the rest of the night would be spent fighting for a small corner of the blankets, I picked her up and nestled her between her father and I.  Her breaths soon became slow and deep.  I kissed the back of her sleeping head, inhaling the sweet scent of her hair, and I hoped that she knew the words my heart was speaking.  My love is for always.


  1. Really, really, sweet. You write well. I enjoy it.

    1. Thanks SO much for not only reading, but also commenting!! My day really is made! :-)


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