I can't remember when we finally ditched the video recorder in favor of the cell phone, but I'm guessing it was around 2008, since that's the last little cassette I could find. Either that or I was just so damn tired I stopped chronicling anything at all.
Regardless, my friend's son soon sent me a link to gigabytes and gigabytes of precious memories, now firmly entrenched in some mega folder probably floating on the Cloud somewhere.
I knew there had to be some pretty awesome visual proof in those video files of mine, so this past weekend I took some time to start watching them.
You know when you start cleaning out a drawer or going through old files and it turns into a marathon of "Oh, I remember this!" or "Wow I had forgotten about that!"? Yep, that was me ... being sucked back in time for hours to a whole other life that I hadn't forgotten about, but just hadn't thought about in a long time. It was like video crack ... I just couldn't stop watching.
I'm not going to say "they grow up so fast," because I distinctly remember at the time there being many days that I was sure went on much longer than the 24-hour allotment. I remember sometimes wishing they'd hurry out of one stage or another ... naps, potty training, the terrible twos, the terrible threes, the terrible fours .... kidding ... sort of.
But looking at these videos, all that wistfulness for time to go by is gone. For so long, I've wondered if I was a good mom; if my kids had a good childhood; if I did things right and gave them what they needed when they needed it. In looking at these videos, I was validated. They were free-spirited, for-the-most-part happy kids doing regular stuff that free-spirited, for-the-most-part-happy kids do - nothing fancy. Giggling through the cold water of the sprinkler. Screaming "Watch me, Mom!" a thousand times as they raced their bikes down the sidewalk and over a ramp. Seeing who could go highest on the swings in the backyard. Chasing each other with water guns almost as big as they were.
This is the stuff my boys need to see. These are the memories I want them to have locked in their heads and hearts forever. Though they may not be close right now, they are bonded by brotherhood, and they were inseparable and partners in crime for many years. I want my younger son to see what an incredible big brother he has, who almost hovered over him to help him read a birthday card, work a water gun or build a Lego set. I want my oldest to see what a great influence he was on his younger brother, and how much good he taught him along the way. They were and are both very lucky to have each other, whether now, at 16 and 20 years old, they realize it or not.
I want both of them to see that they were raised with no frills - most of the fun they had was in their own backyard, with things like a slip 'n slide made out of an old paint tarp, a bike race track traced with sidewalk chalk and games that came simply from their imagination.
In looking at those videos, my heart of course swells with love for them, but it also swells with pride, for them and for myself. I raised some good kids - I really did. I needed to see that, and so do they. I hope they already know how much I love them, and how much they love each other. But if "video evidence" helps, so be it. I know what we'll be doing over the Christmas break.