There was something so different about the 4th of July this year. I could not put my finger on what it was. We had a great day playing, packing, and swimming. All the kids got along…and I accomplished a ton of stuff. Finally it was time for the traditional fireworks we do every year in the street in front of the house with everyone. It was the usual variety of smoke bombs (I still don’t get why those are exciting), sparklers, little army tanks that are supposed to roll but never do, little ducks that are supposed to shoot bright colors from behind and at the end lay an egg (which never happens…or the egg is microscopic and we just can’t see it), and the occasional ”big time” firecracker that you hammer to a tree and it spins around and dazzles you with the colors shooting out (watching it spin makes me feel like I am on the tea-cup ride at Disney). Of course, this is always the one that my brother-in-law hammers into tree and without fail every year it spins a couple of times and then shoots off….so it is best to stand VERY far away.
So why with so much fun going on did I feel like something was missing? It has been in the back of my mind for the past few days and last night in the shower, the one place where I get about two minutes of quiet, it hit me. I realized what was missing. For the past 15 years every fourth of July when the fireworks started…a child of mine would start screaming. We would all sit outside on the driveway anticipating how beautiful the display of colorful fireworks would be. The first one would go off and the screaming would start. The child (or 2) that was afraid would dive into my arms and I would start the walk up the huge hill of a driveway and get take them into the safety of the house. I would try to coax them into at least watching from the window, but usually they wanted to get as far away as they could so we would go down into the basement (not a dark and dreary one…this is a huge bright and cheery playroom) and read stories.
I remember one year when two were screaming, two sat outside and covered their ears the entire time, and two were in the back of the suburban with their cousins (not quite young enough where they wanted to scream and go running inside, but not quite old enough to sit with the “ear-covering” group. This year there were no screams. For the first time since I became a mom I actually sat in a chair right in the front of the fireworks. The children all sat on the curb and clapped and cheered as each one went off. My arms were empty.
When we are down and dirty in caring for our children we often feel like we will always be in that stage. But now I see…something as simple as holding my sweet children when they were afraid of fireworks is something I miss. I will forever hold dearly the memories of lugging children up and down the driveway, offering to put ear muffs on the ones outside even though it is July, and being sure that all the windows are down and doors open for the ones hiding in the car stay cool. The fireworks were beautiful this year…but not nearly as beautiful as the fireworks I have seen while holding my babies for the past 15 years.