(Disclaimer: yes, they're "over her head" and no, I don't think she's actually understanding them. Chill, folks. We read plenty of age-appropriate picture books, but I choose chapter books for night time because the chapters usually take just the right amount of time to read and I can read them in the dark off my Kindle app. Plus the benefits of reading aloud, etc. Anyway.)
As you probably know, These Happy Golden Years is the title of the second to last book in the series and it's mostly about Laura's final years at home before her marriage to Almanzo. (#spoileralert, yes she marries "the Wilder boy." Is it a spoiler alert for a 75-year-old book?) I'll be honest- I loved these books but about halfway through The Long Winter I was ready to burn the book to keep warm- that's how sick I was of reading about yet another blizzard. Holy cow. Anyway, this one might have been my very favorite. And in it, Pa sings a song to Laura:
"Happy years are passing by,
Happy, happy golden years.
Passing on the wings of time,
These happy golden years.
Call them back as they go by,
Sweet their memories are.
Oh, improve them as they fly,
These happy golden years."
Well, like the sap that I am I totally started crying while reading those words to my baby. And I immediately wrote them down and also asked my friend Sara to turn them into a printable for me (which she did and which is currently in my kitchen.)
I love these words so much. And I love them even more on the days when I am in need of them, if you know what I mean. Days like this whole week when Alice has skipped her naps (heaven help us all.) Or days when I just need to run errands and she is fussy in the car seat or stroller or cart or whatever and is screaming in Target and I'm now that mom who can't make her kid zip it and I want to hide under a pile of bath towels. Or days when I'm in a t-shirt and yoga pants and my hair's wet (again, THAT mom going out with my wet hair up like that's hiding the fact that I look like a drowned rat) and I'm definitely not my best self or anyone's #momgoals by any stretch of the imagination.
Yes, all those days.
One thing I've learned so far as an adult is that as young people we tend to pine for the future and as older people we tend to pine for the past. Well, I have no idea what the Lord has in store for me or my family, but I know that these are my happy golden years.
A chubby little baby hand holding my hair. (Or yanking. But still.)
That same chubby hand waving frantically at anyone and everyone who will look her way.
The world's CUTEST baby whose bright blue eyes get comments everywhere we go.
Watching musicals with my toddler. What toddler loves Singin in the Rain and The Music Man- on repeat?? Mine, that's who.
Pushing the stroller through the neighborhood. Or Hobby Lobby. Same thing.
Getting big belly laughs with the silliest faces.
Watching Alice light up when her daddy gets home from work.
String cheese. Green beans. Scrambled eggs.
Books, books, books. (Everything is "book.")
Alllll the snuggles.
And the thing is, I know that fun times are ahead- talking! Independence! Kindergarten! (Wait, did I say fun things?) The fact is, it's easy for me to get overwhelmed by the changes that will happen with Alice in the next few years or even months. Parenting is no joke and the idea that I'm responsible for shaping this girl into a decent human being is mildly terrifying to say the least.
So even though watching her become her own little person is exciting, I know that (nap strike notwithstanding) these days with my one baby definitely qualify as "happy golden years."
Whether you're single or engaged or a newlywed or waiting for a baby or wrangling your third, or you're planning your baby's wedding or middle school graduation party... these can be your happy golden years. It may not feel that way, but we can all handle a reminder now and then to savor each season of life. There's good and bad in each one, but they can all be enjoyed to some degree.
And if you ever feel like you are about to lose it, remember that the Ingalls family survived basically nine straight months of blinding snowstorms and near starvation and didn't kill each other. Our lives are definitely happy and golden by comparison.
P.S. If you want to the file to print this poem for yourself, I'll be happy to email it you. Just let me know. =)