Despite My Best Efforts, It's Almost Midnight
My daughter turned fifteen recently. We’re not going to talk about how old that makes me, but we are going to talk about the fact that I have begun the countdown that every parent dreads, and never realizes is coming until much later than we should have realized it. Only two more summers that she’ll be living at home; only three more first days of school; only twice more that she’ll need me to drive her to the first day of school. How did the time go by so fast, and how do I make what’s left of it count?
If you’ve never heard the song “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman, I highly recommend it, but be warned: you should have Kleenex on hand and not be in a public place when you first hear it (unless you’re into weeping uncontrollably in public, in which case, go ahead and press play wherever you are). It’s a touching reminder of what we busy, multitasking parents so often forget: time with your children is not a chore to be crossed off your to-do list, it’s a gift, and it will be taken from you sooner than you’d like.
Once I was a stay-at-home mother with two children under two years old. There is a five year stretch of my life that I barely remember because I was so sleep deprived; taking a shower was a luxury. I wished away so many days of my life out of sheer exhaustion and frustration. Why can’t they leave me alone for one second? Will they ever go to sleep? Why can’t they clean up after themselves? Will there ever be a day when I’m not covered in spit up and Play-Doh? Those days that seemed like they would go on forever are over now. My children are thirteen and fifteen, and every time I blow out my birthday candles my wish is the same: I want to go back. I want to go back to when we were together all of the time, to when I controlled what they ate, what they wore, and who their friends were. I want to go back to when their idea of a perfect day was staying home in their pajamas with me. I want to go back to the time when my opinion was the one that mattered most to them. I want to go back to the time when I could protect them all day, every day, and I didn’t have to worry about school shootings, broken hearts, suicide, peer pressure, or what might happen at prom after-parties. I want to go back to when they were little, and I want to cherish every moment knowing what I know now – that there aren’t nearly enough moments, and they go by way too fast.
Despite my many birthday wishes (we’re not going to talk about how many), my children continue to grow in age, stature and independence. I’m incredibly proud of the people they are becoming, and my perfect day still consists of staying home in my pajamas with them, but those days are growing fewer and further between, and they are venturing further and further away from me. I am acutely aware of the countdown that has begun, but this time when the countdown is over, I won’t be popping a cork, I’ll be closing my eyes and making a wish that I could start it all over again and cherish every moment.
Do you ever long for days that you used to wish away? How are you making the most of the time that you do have?