You can and you can’t go back again

When I decided to go back to Legoland with Grace and Whit this summer, I worried that maybe it was wrong to try to revisit and recapture one of the most glorious memories of my time as a mother.  Perhaps we would all be disappointed, inevitably, and I’d regret the decision.  Ultimately I couldn’t resist the clarion call of those happy moments, and decided to risk a return.

And it was just as wonderful.  Different, but marvelous.  The whole four days we were there I was struck by the proximity of the past, felt last year’s four days right alongside this year, keenly aware of the ways in which things are the same and the way they are different.  Some combination of familiarity and maturity meant that the children felt masterful at Legoland.  Remembering the routine at the hotel and navigating the park, they knew what they were doing.

Whit went on the rides, Grace seesawed wildly between adorableness and surliness, and I had a blackberry to check.  This was all new.  There was sheer joy in their faces on the safari ride, they careened ahead of me down the hall from the room to the 5pm wine-and-snacks lounge, I took the elevator down while they raced me on the stairs.  This was all the same.

So much new, so much the same.  The children change with blinding speed and yet there’s a permanence to my bond with them, some eternity that beats in its core.  I found myself falling into the black hole of regret about all that has changed, mourning the younger children Grace and Whit were and the year that I’ve lost in the interim.  And then, just as quickly, I shook my head and tried to reimmerse myself in the moment I was living, knowing as I did that within weeks I’d be nostalgic for it.  As I walked through the park, a child’s hand in each of mine, I knew, vividly and viscerally, that immediately I’d wish I had that minute back.

I’ve sworn and promised that we’ll return to Legoland again next summer.  And I know that when we do I will slide back in the slipstream between now and then.  And I can’t wait.


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4 Comments

  1. Posted September 20, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I knew vividly and viscerally that immediately I’d wish I had that minute back…….. Yes, isn’t that true? Good for you – you did it. You returned to the moment.

    I’d also like to explore the possibility that one can’t enjoy the moment while you are in it, but can appreciate the beauty in hindsight, being able to siphon off the exact moment that was beautiful, even if it only lasted a couple of minutes. In hindsight, the heat or the crying or the exhaustion isn’t there anymore. hmmmm, I’ll think on these today.

  2. Posted September 20, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    I know these feelings, too. But remember, you didn’t LOSE a year, you LIVED a year. Experienced it, appreciated it, wrote about, hold it now in memory. The challenge we face, I think, is to be aware without holding on too tight. Such a dance. A beautiful one.

  3. Posted September 20, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Ah, the contrast of change and constancy in motherhood. Places we return to regularly sharpen the focus for me. The past bubbles up and the present somehow seems clearer for it.

  4. Posted September 22, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Your repeat trip to Legoland sparks my memories of our repeat visits to Disney World. They never seem to disappoint. And part of it makes me feel like a kid all over again.