My boys are home sick today with bad coughs. So, I have had the luxury of being freed from my normally harried Monday routine of errand running and house cleaning. Today it’s all about my sick little guys and making sure they rest. So, this morning while they were watching part of a movie, I was able to get some reading done. My friend, Melissa, posted a link to this very wise blog article. In it the author writes about how often she is approached by older women who remind her to treasure every moment with her young children because their youth is ephemeral and someday she will be sorry she didn’t enjoy it all while she had the chance.
I can’t recount the number of times I’ve been talking about my trials with my children and some well-meaning but totally out-of-touch person admonishes me to enjoy every second because soon they’ll be gone…as if I don’t know this already. I do. And, I feel troubled that sometimes I want to escape this phase they’re in and move quickly on to the next one. It’s hard to enjoy every second, though, when in that exact second perhaps Luke is puking on me and the dental hygienist or Joe is having one of his ADHD meltdowns that I can’t get him through fast enough as we struggle through his math homework.
At three o’clock this morning, as a matter of fact, I was having a really difficult time treasuring the fact that impulse-control lacking Joe was stumbling into our bedroom every twenty minutes to report his temperature, which was approximately 98.6 degrees each time, mind you. It was hard to enjoy the fact that I was treated to three fewer hours of sleep than I normally get and that as I desperately tried to cling to the last little bit of sleep available to me my youngest crawled into bed and was literally coughing right in my face. How could I possibly NOT savor these precious moments?
I understand how an older woman, with children grown and gone, could look back on the early years of parenting wistfully and with great affection. The human mind is wonderful at softening memories with time, making them more palatable and lovely. Remember that total creep you dated in college, the one who cheated on you while you were at your grandfather’s funeral? I bet nowadays when speaking of him you simply recount the story of how he treated you to a romantic Valentine’s Day treasure hunt that must have taken him hours to put together. Time changes our perceptions. It fades our scars. The woman in the grocery store who begs you to cherish every second doesn’t remember exhaustion. She’s had time to rest and recover.
Today, as I sit here with my boys watching movies, I am taking mental pictures and imprinting the joy and peace of this moment for future use. I know I will one day look back and fail to remember how tired and sick I was while I was sitting with them. I will recall only what a gift it was to have an excuse to sit for an entire day and love on them. And, I will miss these times. Guaranteed. While I know the negative memories will have faded, I hope I will remember the struggles, the heartbreak, and the frustrations too. I don’t want to have gone through the whole experience of life only to remember half of it.
(Oh…and when I’m older and run across a mom struggling in the store with young kids, I hope I remember to tell her only that she’s doing a great job.)