The cliché that the childhood years pass “in the blink of an eye” is so overused it basically has no meaning to me. Every 85-year-old woman at the grocery store could say it to me and it wouldn’t really make much of an impact. It is in the everyday living of parenthood, however, that these words find root in my life. Sometimes the preciousness of a moment brings me simultaneous awe and sadness — passing quickly and leaving me changed, if only slightly, forever. To enjoy your kids means being present and there.
Lately the idea of time marching on and slipping through my fingers has weighed heavily. I think part of it is my age. I’m no longer young enough to think I’m invincible and my own parents are aging in front of me. Add in a few health/wellness issues from both sides of our family, and the immediacy of this life, this moment, has become even more pronounced. I read Rachael’s post yesterday about making memories between her children (who are just forming them) and her own grandparents (who are losing their memories) and it really spoke to me. We do not have forever on this earth and even in those living years, we are not guaranteed our memories. You must enjoy your kids and all things around you.
Like many parents, I count the seconds until bedtime some days. Others, I breathe a sigh of relief when they are carted off to school or I manage to get out for a few hours. It’s normal. But, you (and I) need to start to consciously enjoy your kids this time in your lives lives. Even the crazy days have a special place in my life and I should embrace them, not wish them away. A few other things have happened lately to cement this reminder that time (especially with my kids as they grow up) really is precious.
Please Remember To Enjoy Your Kids
- Working more than usual. When you have the luxury of being the “there” parent for your kids and stepkids, it is markedly noticeable when you are absent. I have been busier than usual with work since mid-November and in that time, have missed a few field trips and class parties and have had to turn down a couple of play dates. Each time, I tried not to feel guilty. Some kids go on every field trip and attend every class party without a parent present. My mom friends knew I was temporarily busy and were not offended. Still. As my kids moved through their days seemingly undisturbed by my absence, I missed them. Of all the kids, London (my stepdaughter) appeared to miss me the most, accepting no substitute for her planetarium field trip when I was unable to attend (not even grandma). We did something special later in the day and she was appeased. I don’t regret the busyness. But it was a reminder that at the end of every work day, my kids are just a little bit older than they were in the morning — and so am I.
- Visiting the elderly. I recently visited a local adult day care club for people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. I started by sitting in the director’s office, asking a slew of questions and affirming that the work she did there for clients and caregivers was wonderful. At the end of the interview session, she invited me to go see the clients as they listened to a local jazz band in the activity room. I wanted to leave but felt compelled to at least look at the story I was writing and understand it. The room was full of people enjoying the music, either bopping in their seats or up dancing. I was happy that they seemed to be having so much fun — but it struck me hard. I remembered my own grandmother’s slide into dementia and wondered how soon it would be until my husband or children dropped me off at this club during the day so they did not have to worry about me harming myself at home. I told my husband “It’s sad to think that will be us one day.” He reminded me that not everyone develops dementia (true). As I got my kids ready for school the next day, I wondered if there will come a day where the basics of this daily routine with them will be a distant, or non-existent, memory. It made me pull them in a little tighter as I combed their hair and linger a little longer at their classroom doors — trying to burn the memory of them at that moment in my mind forever.
- Spending time with my own mom. When my mom came to visit us a few weeks ago, she took one look at my youngest and exclaimed “I just can’t believe how much she looks like you did when you were a kid!” The rest of the week consisted of her repeating that phrase at different times, along with the observation that she cannot believe how quickly the time goes. I don’t remember being as small as my youngest is now, but I do remember being a kid and the “mom” I had back then. I too wonder where my time with her has gone, and that in turn makes me think more about the precious moments with my own kids. One day I’ll be raving over my own amazing grandkids and telling repeated stories of when mine “were little” and that day will show up sooner than I think.
How do you embrace your life as a parent, and make the most of every day to enjoy your kids?
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