There will come a day when I will miss this.
In reality those days are far away, yet I feel them pulling me in. I feel the moments of simple joys, innocence, and wonder slipping out of my grasp, like sand through my fingers. The best parts of parenting children only last for so long, and then they’re not children anymore.
The Polar Vortex did a number on us, my kids and me. As a work-from-home parent, there was a stretch of time when our only break from one another was sleep. I’ll admit it, I couldn’t WAIT for a break in the cold and for the schools to open their doors again. I’d take any reason for the three of us to be away from one another.
But then, I felt guilty for having such thoughts, for wishing my kids away. That guilt brought prospective. I remembered–someday, I will miss this.
-Days when my daughter looks up at me with her ginormous brown eyes and just stares, like she’s trying to memorize my face.
-Days when my son, who is almost 10 and far cooler than I am, randomly and without prompting tells me he loves me
– My daughter falling asleep in my arms, her head so full of curls. The curl of her finger around mine. The curl of her legs underneath her body. The curl of her toes when the cold air hits them. How does she sleep so soundly? I can have a conversation and stroke her cheek all while cradling her, and she doesn’t flinch. She just goes on sleeping.
And someday, I won’t have that anymore. The thought is enough to make me ugly cry.
There’s no denying we fought when the cold forced us to stay inside together. We fought about what to have for supper, who gets to use the remote, what part of the mess belonged to who. We fought about bedtimes and which game to play, and who gets the blue cup. Why does blue have to be the favorite color for them both?! We bickered and whined and pushed against one another until I felt like screaming.
Still, I will miss it.
I will miss how badly they want to be with me. As if their entire existence depends upon proximity – if they stray too far for too long, they’ll disappear altogether. How can they possibly love me so much? Me!?
My son with his bony butt digging into my thighs. I just want my space, but he insists upon sitting with me. That won’t be something for me to turn away for much longer. Someday, he’ll be too big for my lap. Someday, he won’t even want to snuggle.
One day, I will be the one feeling the need to be near him. Eventually, my existence will depend on his closeness. That day will come before I know it. While I acknowledge this inevitability, my chest tightens thinking about it. No matter how much I prepare myself, it will crush me all the same.
There are days when I am counting down to nap time, watching the clock for the school bus to arrive, and waiting anxiously to march them up to bed.
Why am I wishing my life away? And what’s worse, why am I wishing their lives away? Shame on me. Because each morning, they wake a day older. Each morning, I am one step closer to playing second fiddle in their lives. And then third, and fourth, until they are grown.
The love they have for me as it is today is fleeting. Sure, they’ll love me forever and always, but not like this. Not unequivocally, not unconditionally. Not with the kind of blind ferocity that baffles the senses.
These revelations require only one thing of me: to be. Be with them. Be patient. Be understanding and wide-eyed. Be involved. Be there with them through the best of times and the worst of times. No matter what. I have to be theirs while I still can.
Some days are hard. Some days are heavenly. But all those ‘some days’ will be behind me before I know it. I have to be here, in this moment and the next, going forward with as much levity and consideration as possible.
I have to do it now before it’s too late.
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