The Big Events Are Big, But The Little Events Aren’t Little

Today would have been my mom’s 61st birthday. The second birthday since she passed away. I debated whether to write something to commemorate this day. Not that I wouldn’t be thinking about my mom today, on the contrary, she’s been on my mind even more than usual, I just wasn’t sure what to write. I wrote a piece last year for her 60th birthday. I wasn’t sure what was left to say.

Then I ran into Best Buy to pick up an adapter. It was supposed to be a quick in and out trip, but I’m highly susceptible to their giant bins of cheap cds. You find a lot of good 60s and 70s music in there, so I stopped to look. And there, on the very top of the pile, track list side up, was a cd of hits from The Lovin’ Spoonful. Track 5 jumped out at me, my eyes lit up with recognition. “You And Me And Rain On The Roof”. That’s that song! That song mom had been trying to tell me about for years.

I have loved music from the 1960s since I was old enough to tune our radio to the local oldies station. For years, my mom was trying to get me to remember this song I had never heard. She’d sing the chorus. I’d say I didn’t recognize it. She’d shake her head with shock and disbelief and moan, “HOW can you NOT know that song?? You’d love it!”. I’d remind her, though my knowledge of 60s music generally surpassed hers, I was actually NOT ALIVE in the 60s, so if they never played it on my oldies station, or I hadn’t discovered it on my own on a cd, I didn’t know it. I’d grill her about who sang it. She, of course, had no idea. “I was 13! If it wasn’t The Beatles or The Monkees or someone cute like Peter Noone from Herman’s Hermits or Mark Lindsay from Paul Revere and The Raiders, I didn’t pay attention to who was singing it!”

Over the years, as technology arrived that would have allowed us to find the song on the web, I guess we forgot, because we never bothered. I hadn’t thought about it at all until the day before her birthday, when “You And Me And Rain On The Roof” jumped out and found me.

She was right. I love the song.

Finding that lost song was a sign. I definitely wanted to write something now. But what?

I still wasn’t sure. It’s a birthday. Birthdays deserve some measure of fanfare, right?

Then, from out of nowhere, a memory popped into my head.

Occasionally when I was little, to get me to go to bed at night, my parents would bargain me into it by playing “Make Way For The Queen”. They would link and cross their arms like a throne, I would sit on their arms, they would lift me up (which seemed waaaay off the ground to me), and carry me slowly, one lap around the inside of each room of the house, while I waved the traditional queen parade wave to my non-existent onlookers as my parents repeated in a stately manner, “Make way for the Queen. Queen Shannon. Make way for the Queen.” The highlight of the ritual was when they brought me to the living room mirror, which was hung at “big people” height, and raised me up so I could see myself and wave in the mirror.

Then they’d carry me to my bedroom and, if I was lucky, cap the night off with “Throw Her To The Pigs”. If I asked nicely, “Can we pleeeeeze do ‘throw her to the pigs’, pleeeze???”, they would always cave. I’d lay down on the ground next to my bed with mom standing on one end and dad on the other. They would pick me up by my ankles and outstretched arms, swinging me towards my bed and away, counting off each time I swung toward the bed. “One…Twooooo…Threeeee….THROW HER TO THE PIGS!!!!” at which point they’d toss me onto my bed. I LOVED both of these rituals and remember them vividly.

I mean, if you were dealing with this kind of trouble all day…

C'mon, mom, our soaps are on!
C’mon, mom, our soaps are on!

Wouldn’t you want to get your daughter to this point by any means possible?

Finally out!
Finally out!

Actually, I would have probably been closer to this age during my reign as queen.

My parents and I outside church. I absolutely love that dress my mom is wearing. And my dad sure knew how to style in a pair of plaid pants. I have a lot of photographic proof his love of plaid pants. A lot of photographic proof.
My parents and I outside church. I absolutely love that dress my mom is wearing. And my dad sure knew how to style in a pair of plaid pants. I have a lot of photographic proof of his love of plaid pants. A lot of photographic proof.

But that didn’t mean I was any less mischievous…

You can't pin ME down for bed, copper! I am the wind...you'll never find me. Unless you look under the blanket on the couch...because that's probably where I'm hiding.
You can’t pin ME down for bed, copper! I am the wind…you’ll never find me. Unless you look under the blanket on the couch…because that’s probably where I’m hiding.

“Make Way For The Queen” sounds like the stuff of narcissism therapy sessions to come, but it did exactly the opposite for me. I hate the stereotype of the spoiled only child. My parents didn’t raise me that way, so when we had these everyday rituals, it didn’t make me spoiled or swell my head, it just made me feel special. Not special to the world, but special to my parents.

Do I remember the Christmas I got the Barbie McDonald’s? Absolutely. Do I remember all the great birthday cakes my mom slaved over to make my day special? Of course! The big events are big, but the little events aren’t little.

What is a thousand times more important to me is the everyday memories of my childhood.

Let’s be honest. Sometimes birthdays are great.

My favorite birthday cake ever. My mom baked it for my third birthday. The candy eggs that made Big Bird's nest were malted milk!
My favorite birthday cake ever. My mom baked it for my third birthday. The candy eggs that made Big Bird’s nest were malted milk!

But sometimes birthdays end up like this.

When your birthday's in April, sometimes your present is a snowstorm that keeps your guests from arriving. No amount of dressing to match my party decorations could overcome the grim reality of delayed birthday presents at that age.
When your birthday’s in April, sometimes your present is a snowstorm that keeps your guests from arriving. No amount of dressing to match my party decorations could overcome the grim reality of delayed birthday presents at that age.

You can work hard to make birthdays special, but when all is said and done, it’s real everyday life that you remember with a smile on your face.

And in real everyday life…

Sometimes the sun gets in your eyes.
Sometimes the sun gets in your eyes.
And your skirt's uncomfortable.
And your skirt’s uncomfortable.
Sometimes riding alone is a drag.
Sometimes riding alone is a drag.
But then your sister jumps aboard and turns up the fun.
But then your sister jumps aboard and turns up the fun.
And sometimes, if you have to stand here in the sun holding your sister's hand for one more stinkin' picture, you're gonna eat every last chocolate in your Easter purse.
And sometimes, if you have to stand here in the sun holding your sister’s hand for one more stinkin’ picture, you’re gonna eat every last chocolate in your Easter purse.
Sometimes you pretend attack your little brother in his Batmobile. Incidentally, 1966, this would have been the year my mom was hearing "You And Me And Rain On The Roof" on the radio.
Sometimes you pretend attack your little brother in his Batmobile. Incidentally, 1966, this would have been the year my mom was hearing “You And Me And Rain On The Roof” on the radio.
Sometimes you're talking on the phone and reading the newspaper on the floor.
Sometimes you’re talking on the phone and reading the newspaper on the floor.
Sometimes your husband is standing on his head on the couch. That, by the way, is the mirror my parents would lift me up to see into during Make Way For The Queen.
Sometimes your husband is standing on his head on the couch. That, by the way, is the mirror my parents would lift me up to see into during Make Way For The Queen.
Sometimes your kid is gleefully tearing up newspaper. I'm told that was my favorite thing to do at that age.
Sometimes your kid is gleefully tearing up newspaper. I’m told that was my favorite thing to do at that age.
Sometimes your kid is sitting on the floor surrounded by newspapers, with a smeared face, a guilty look, and a cowlick in her hair.
Sometimes your kid is sitting on the floor surrounded by newspapers, with a smeared face, a guilty look, and a cowlick in her hair.
Sometimes your kid has toddler spaghetti all over her face. Actually, nearly every day your kid has toddler spaghetti all over her face.
Sometimes your kid has toddler spaghetti all over her face. Actually, nearly every day your kid has toddler spaghetti all over her face.
Sometimes your daughter falls asleep in her highchair with toddler spaghetti all over her face, but you don't want to wipe it off, for fear you'll wake her up. Actually, nearly every day your daughter falls asleep in her highchair with toddler spaghetti all over her face.
Sometimes your daughter falls asleep in her highchair with toddler spaghetti all over her face, but you don’t want to wipe it off, for fear you’ll wake her up. Actually, nearly every day your daughter falls asleep in her highchair with toddler spaghetti all over her face.
And sometimes your daughter falls asleep in her swing, but probably not as often as you would like her to.
And sometimes your daughter falls asleep in her swing, but probably not as often as you would like her to.
Sometimes you give your kid cake in her highchair and turn on the radio, so you can eat your cottage cheese in the hallway and sneak in a soap opera.
Sometimes you give your kid cake in her highchair and turn on the radio, so you can eat your cottage cheese in the hallway and sneak in a soap opera.
Sometimes your kid is tap dancing.
Sometimes your kid is tap dancing.
Sometimes your kid is disco dancing.
Sometimes your kid is disco dancing.
Sometimes your kid is honing her dramatic skills.
Sometimes your kid is honing her dramatic skills.
Sometimes there's socks in the kleenex box and your daughter is bouncing incessantly on your bed.
Sometimes there’s socks in the kleenex box and your daughter is bouncing incessantly on your bed.
Sometimes your daughter is helping wash the dishes.
Sometimes your daughter is helping wash the dishes.
Sometimes she's sitting in the laundry.
Sometimes she’s sitting in the laundry.
Sometimes she's standing with your cookie jar stuck on her head.
Sometimes she’s standing with your cookie jar stuck on her head.
Sometimes she's just standing in a shaft of sunlight laughing.
Sometimes she’s just standing in a shaft of sunlight laughing.
And every morning she greets you with a hearty "Good Morning, Mommy!" ready to start another day with you.
And every morning she greets you with a hearty “Good Morning, Mommy!” ready to start another day with you.
And every night you eventually get a chance to relax. Sometimes that means eating ice cream out of the carton with a spatula while the curlers set in your hair.
And every night you eventually get a chance to relax. Sometimes that means eating ice cream out of the carton with a spatula while the curlers set in your hair.

I know my mom treasured the memories of these little events too. She’s the one who took most of these pictures as we lived our everyday days. Thanks for a childhood of wonderful memories, Mom! Happy Birthday!

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8 thoughts on “The Big Events Are Big, But The Little Events Aren’t Little

  1. That made me smile…the stories, the pictures, the Queen, everything. I love the fact that you stumbled upon that song and that your mom is still sending you special signs. Happy birthday to her!

  2. You’re so right. It is the little, daily stuff that you remember. My parents used to scoop up my brother and me and run us into the kitchen. They’d threaten to put me in the stove and him in the sink. We screamed with fake terror and begged them to do it again. I know it sounds like the stuff of future psychoses now (and who know why or how it got started?) but we loved it, and I treasure the memory now. Hope your memories are bringing you more joy that sorrow. Birthdays are hard when you’re missing the one you’d like to celebrate.

    1. Thanks, Rita. Indeed, who knows how any of these crazy traditions get started, but thank goodness they do! I did enjoy my mom’s birthday this year. It was fun sorting through, choosing pictures I wanted to share for this post. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you I’m behind on commenting on your blog, but not on reading and enjoying it! I’ll be back to commenting as soon as I can!

  3. I didn’t comment when I first read this — had to take it all in and process it. A lot of take aways here, but of the course the largest one is love. The presence of true family love is not hard to find here.

    Love is in history, in the documentation, but of course in the remembrance most of all. I was writing earlier today about the value of a blog, and came up with this:

    “At that point, and when blogging runs its course, all I have spat out through the years by way of social media will simply be a silicon fossil to be someday excavated by a cyber-archeologist.”

    This blog, my friend, is a great fossil that will only improve with time.

    1. Thanks, Roy. I really appreciate your kind words. I, too, did not comment on your latest post when I first read it. I often require processing time before commenting…and replying to comments, as evidenced by the time delay between these comments and my replies. My gears turn slowly when stringing together my thoughts into words.

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