Good Old Days

I have a confession that will not come as a shock to some of you. I  view the past with what some would call unhealthy sentimentality. Don’t fault me….I come by it honestly. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and in this instance the mighty tree is my father. As children, we drove him crazy. Like ‘forehead veins bulging’ crazy. As an only child my father was less than prepared for the volume and high speed playing, battling, arguing that existed in a house with three offspring. Don’t misunderstand. He was/is an amazing dad. He’s loving, kind, an incredible instructor with focus on what is worthwhile and noble.

But I remember several times in my childhood when I was certain his head was going to explode off his shoulders from frustration over something one of us had done.

Flash forward thirty years and my father will see kids acting out in restaurant, turn to my mother and say, “I don’t EVER remember our kids acting like that. Ahh, those were great times. Our kids were so good….” My dear mother typically rolls her eyes and mutters something about his ability to rewrite history. If she’s really feeling spunky she’ll tell the barbecue story.


Sometime in the late 1980s my parents were apparently feeling especially brave. They ventured out with all three kids to a tiny restaurant near our home called Porky’s, a family owned barbecue joint. I estimate there were roughly 30 or 40 seats in the one room restaurant so the feel was a bit tight. Restaurants would use the word ‘intimate’ but it actually bordered on claustrophobic. On the evening we visited all was going well until my baby sister managed to get her hands on a potato chip.

Which she gagged on.

Which led to vomiting.

Which caused my mother to panic and start patting my sister on the back to clear her mouth and throat.

Which caused my younger brother to gag and continue to dry heave at the table.

Which caused me, in my 10ish year old coolness, to be totally mortified and start blathering on and on about how someone needed to get this circus back in order!

Which went on and on until my dad freaked out, waved his hands in the air and yelled, in a volume much too loud for an ‘intimate’ restaurant, “I NEED SOME SPAAAAAAAAAACE!”

It was embarrassing. For everyone. However, when retold years later we all laugh, especially my dad. Through the view of a 30 year old lens things seem easier, less stressful, the edges softened with the passing of time. The embarrassment has faded into the longing for those same moments as we are all now grown and the little potato chip choker is living hours and hours away.

And I’m getting weepy thinking of that little baby girl and if I’m not careful I’ll miss making my point altogether! You may be saying, “Point, Emily? Your ramblings have a point?”

Why, Yes. They. Do!

So before I go further….let me state in black and white that I think it’s fine to look fondly on the past and good to reminisce about days gone by. But if you’re anything like me, there might be a tad too much time spent misty eyed over old photos when I should be realizing THESE are the good old days!

The minutes you and I are living now are the very moments that will catch our breath on some Flashback Friday in five years.

Years ago my father advised me ‘not to wish my life away.’ When I would whine about how I couldn’t wait to grow up, drive a car, start dating, move out, get a job, he would gently say, “Don’t wish your life away.” Sage advice and words I needed to hear. However, I seem to cling to certain pieces of advice in an unhealthy manner. Some recommendations, such as suggested hours of exercise, adequate number of fruits and vegetables to ingest, go overlooked. But there are a few key bits of wisdom that I’ve hung onto, wringing out their usefulness until they’ve become useless and I’m left exhausted. “Don’t wish your life away” is one of those bits of advice I’d like to set out with tomorrow’s trash.

Because I’m no longer a child and I’m sure not wishing my life away.

The bummer is that regardless of my position on the pace at which I want life to move, it keeps going……fast. And too many times I’ve clung to a moment that was fleeting or tried to recreate something that has had its time. Time to move on, sister!

While I have sincerely worked on this weakness of mine, I find myself typing now because I was once again lured into the ‘look at the past…..oh how good does the past look?….. wish I could go back…..’

Stupid auto generated Flashback Friday from Facebook dredged up a picture of my oldest son from seven years ago that took my breath away. I quickly resorted to my sentimental self and wanted to sob in my tea at 6 am. “Where has my baby gone? Where is my precious little guy?” But you know what? He was upstairs. All fresh eight years of him. Snug in bed and sleeping soundly dreaming of the football game to come later that morning. His three younger siblings were also asleep, including one precious little blonde boy who looks remarkably like the baby in that flashback photo.

And I am reminded that today is a good old day.

 

So, rather than belabor my irritation over the shrieking pterodactyl noise that our 15 month old now uses in public, causing the couple sitting next to us at the restaurant to get up and move, I’m trying to remember that we somehow endured it before. With three other tiny pterodactyls.

Good old days.

Or the mortifying trip to SAM’s Club early last year when two of our three kids fell off a bench and landed on their head. At one point all three kids were crying and I caught the horrified look of another shopper when I turned and she caught sight of my belly, gigantic with a growing Thaddeus inside.

Good old day.

Or the stop at Wendy’s drive through this summer in Cookeville, Tennessee with all the windows rolled down when my seven year old son began yelling, “Real. New. Settlers!! Real new settlers. REAL NEW SETTLERS!!!” I wasn’t totally embarrassed until I turned around to see that he was pointing at an Amish family who he believed to be pioneer settlers in the flesh. At Wendy’s. Then I was TOTALLY embarrassed. (Although it provided for a great conversation as we continued down the road about the blessing of the variety of people we will encounter in life.)

Good old day.

Or the other stop at Wendy’s while traveling last summer (hey, don’t judge…we like Wendy’s!) when our then two year old began calling out to an older, less than conversational woman who was finishing her meal alone behind us. She let out in a horrifyingly creepy, sing-songy voice, ending in crescendo, “Don’t leave………DON’T LEAVE………….DON’T LEAVE………….DON’T LEEEEEEEEEEAVE!!!” #awkard

Good old day.

Each of these scenarios left me frazzled and a bit white-knuckled ( I know, I know….you’re not surprised….) but in retrospect they’re more than just a little amusing to me. They serve as a reminder that tomorrow’s stressful, uncomfortable, awkward situation likely isn’t nearly as bad as I’m making it.

Heck, it’ll likely make an appearance in the next installment of The Ticking Time Mom.

Good Old Days.

**Please share your Good Old Days memories! The more mortifying the better. Because let’s be honest…misery loves company, folks.**

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Good Old Days

  1. One of our top Good Ol’ Days memories will forever be engrained in my mind: A couple of years ago when Mae was about 4, we made our weekly trip to Target. We were walking in the door, when Mae points excitedly and screams, “Mom, they’re real. Mom, quick, look, they are real!” Yes, I’m mortified as she is pointing to a little person walking across the store. She had seen the show “Little Couple” on TLC. Horribly embarrassing, but used the opportunity to have a discussion with her….after I crawled out of the imaginary hole I dug myself into.

  2. Can’t stop laughing about your Dad “needing space” in the restaurant!! You always find the silver lining to the cloud. What a wonderful and truly funny family you have — I think your mother is the leader of the Funny Farm!!!!!

  3. Why do so many of our ‘good old day’ memories involve restaurants? I vividly remember the time that your dad was responding to an urgent plea for a drink from one of you three. Trying to end the urgent pleading quickly, he attempted to pass his glass over the table when the glass slipped, ending up in my glass and both exploded. Glass and liquid covered everything on the table. Yep….’vein bulging, head exploding’ experience. We managed to clean it up and go on. As we were finishing our meal an elderly gentleman made it a point to pass by our table and pat your dad on the shoulder. “You sure have a lovely family, son”. He was being completely sincere….and absolutely right! Good times.

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