“One, two, three… WEEEEE!”
There’s something about passing something on to our own children that impacted us when we were small.
Balloon jumps are one of those things. My dad used to round us up in his great big arms and hurl us onto their king sized bed, one by one. He would announce what “type” of flight you were about to embark on: a “mommy” jump, a “daddy” jump, or the biggest and highest of all… a “grandfather jump.”
We would squeal with laughter and anticipation every single time, and we would often end up in one big pile on the bed, unable to control our laughter as he tickled us, picking us up again for more “jumps.”
The singular thrill of flying in the air onto what seemed like an enormous cushion at the time was fun, to be sure, but that was not what brought us the most joy in those moments. What made our hearts the lightest, I believe, was the joy in our dad’s eyes, the laughter. I can hear it so clearly, even today. He loved playing with us, particularly in ways that allowed him to be silly, which in turn made us the happiest girls in the world.
Despite how picturesque this sounds, it really was that wonderful in the mind of three, four, five year old me. And I’m holding onto it now, with all of my heart.
Tonight, at the lake home that he so dearly loved, in the master bedroom that he was meant to share with my mom here, I realized what I was doing. I was throwing our precious one year old, Jayden, onto the bed, over and over and over. He squealed with laughter and his smiles made my soul soar.
“One, two, three, WEEE!”
My husband and I have both done this with our boys, but tonight it hit me square in the eyes. This is what he would’ve been doing, right here, right now, if he was in this room. He would’ve been tickling him, holding him, making him laugh. I took a moment to remember, to think about the mannerisms he always had when he played. I realized that some, maybe a few, little bitty pieces of those mannerisms are ingrained in me and I project those out every so often.
It made me realize, then, in that room, that there are pieces of my dad all around us. All around and within me, and in my sisters too. Coming out of us, in small ways. Small as they may be, they are important. And will carry his legacy into the days and years ahead.
I never knew that motherhood could connect me to my parents in such ways, particularly to the dad that I no longer get to watch interact with my children.
He may not be here physically, but I can make sure that his presence isn’t forgotten. His impact, his love, his little intricate ways that he lived- those will never fade. In fact, I believe that while we are mimicking some of the things he taught us down here on earth, he is in his fullest, most truly “Scott” form that he has ever been- all of the great things about him magnified, all of the human aspects of him redeemed.
I can’t wait to embrace that same-but-new dad, the dad that will continue laughing and playing and working hard every day.
I’m realizing that he taught me the most by the way he loved and lived, not by mere words that he spoke from his mouth. The things that I remember the most are those times that he brought sheer delight to our hearts by how he treated us- how he made us feel like we were the most important person in the world to him at any given moment.
So, for you moms and dads out there: when your children look back on your time with them, please know that the moments are going to be what they remember. The sweet, connecting, fun moments. The times that they felt cherished, felt known.
They will remember those moments when they saw that they were important to you and believed it with all of their heart.
So, the next time you are tempted to prioritize something else over bending over and tickling your baby’s tummy, or rough-housing, or throwing them onto the bed (because when are we not tempted to overlook these opportunities), I hope you’ll remember my dad. And balloon jumps. I know I will be trying to do just that.
You may not see now how much it matters to them, but believe me. It does.