At the end of the book, Laura Ingalls Wilder paints the picture of Pa playing his fiddle and singing Auld Lang Syne:
"Shall auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Shall auld acquaintance be forgot,
And the days of auld lang syne?
She asked her pa, "What are the days of auld lang syne?" And he told her they are "the days of a long time ago." As she drifted off to sleep she observed Pa as he sat by the fire and Ma rocking in a chair, knitting.
"She thought to herself, 'This is now.'The ending of this book has stuck with me more than any other. I think about it often and it haunts me in a way, because I look around my own home and the people in it and I have the same thought as Laura: this is now. But I also know the life I am living now will someday be the days of a long time ago.
She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the fire-light and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought because now is now. It can never be a long time ago."
It's good to think about that sometimes. To me these days of childrearing seem like they will last forever, but somehow my oldest, John, is already approaching his 8th birthday. And I'm well aware that the next 8 years will go just a quickly as the first! Then he will be nearly grown and almost ready to fly from the nest!
Right now, I am helping shape my children's childhood. They will talk about this time someday. They will reflect on parenting decisions I made, good and bad. They will all go off to forge their own path in the world, but this shared space and time that we have now will always be the foundation of their adult lives.
It makes me want to be a better mom, to work towards building a better family culture. I'm not exactly sure what that will look like. I'm still trying to find the balance between cleaning the house, homeschooling, paying attention to the kids, and leisure. But I think as long as we are aware of the fleeting "now" and strive to savor it and put our best efforts into it, I think when "now" becomes a "long time ago", it will be remembered and treasured by my children... and that is my great hope.