Friday, May 20, 2011
One day I was struggling with my three young offspring at the grocery store. One was in back of the cart on a blanket, one was in a baby car seat attached to the front of the cart, and one was a toddler, commanded to hold onto the cart's handle as if his life depended on it.
I awkwardly lugged a second cart behind me for the actual groceries.
A middle-aged woman who'd been observing us approached, and with sincere expression and tone, told me:
“Enjoy this time. It goes by way too quickly.”
I laughed inwardly, naive to what she meant. How was I supposed to enjoy the endless diaper changing, feeding, and bottle-making? I hadn’t had a full-night’s sleep in ages, and my days were nothing short of insanity. This I should enjoy? Easy for her to say, I thought, she looked like she was in empty-nester phase.
My children will most likely all leave home within the year.
The grocery store woman's words haunt me now. ‘Enjoy it,’ she’d said.
I didn’t always. But I cherish those times when I was wise enough to absorb her advice.
Were I to rewind, I would have held my children much more. I would have read to them more. I would have gotten up earlier to make them a homemade breakfast more often, versus just stocking the pantry with cereal and leaving them to their own devices. I would have listened more intently, and longer, instead of worrying so much about getting dinner on the table, or the laundry folded, or how I was going to pay my bills. I cringe at the thought of how many times my back might have been turned to them while they attempting to share something with me.
But there were moments. Moments I’ll never regret, when household chores were put aside kids were loaded into my car, and we just spent the day at a park with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Or when we spontaneously drove up to the mountains and practiced sledding downhill on snowsuit bottoms, since we didn’t bring sleds. Staying up late and sleeping outside on the trampoline with them. Lazy days at the Lake where they taught themselves to swim.
I remember busting them out of school on Sex Education day. We went skiing instead, and had our own discussion about something that important.
Hanging out in the living room, doing nothing on a Friday evening. Late night runs to the fast-food restaurant for pure and unadulterated junk food binges.
‘Enjoy it.’ What wise words. I wish I’d heeded them as completely as I could have. I will cherish the time I have left with them in my home, and send as much love as I can to the them when they're gone.
Though my time of having children in the home is coming to a close, how blessed I've been to have experienced it at all. I had the privilege of having three incredible individuals come into my home, via my own body, and dwell there for nearly two decades. Lots of people do the parenthood thing, yes, but common or not, it's still an honest-to-goodness, flat-out miracle, isn't it?
It's sad for me, now that this phase of my life is coming to a close, but I find such joy in the knowledge that it happened. That I got to have this for a while.
As the song, ‘Omnia Sol’ says:
“Remember when, and let your heart be staid.”
Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.
*For more information on becoming an empty-nester (it's inevitable), and being okay with it (eventually) click here.
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