The Forgotten Years

I should totally be getting ready for church right now. Or eating breakfast. Or both. But… I’m not. Instead, I’m sitting here doing something way better: I’m watching my baby.

The big boy is with his grandparents for the weekend, so it’s just me, the hubby, and the little one. And let me tell you, children change when their older siblings are gone. He’s quieter now (probably because the Wild One isn’t riling him up), and much more adventurous. And there is something about that dimpled smile that just gets me. Is there anything sweeter? Or cuter than that same smile behind a paci clenched tightly between two teeth and gums?

Why is this the best thing ever? Because I don’t do it nearly enough. Children, especially babies, grow so fast! #2 is already pulling up and trying to stand. He’s eight months old. EIGHT MONTHS OLD, people. Let that sink in. None of this “crawling ’til I’m a year” business. Oh no. Neither boy will let me savor their babyhood. But that’s not the point. The point is that our culture has hardwired us to be constantly busy, and as such, we miss out. A lot.

About a month and a half ago, my husband and I came to the depressing realization that I could not go back to work. Some of you are wondering why that is depressing. My husband has an entry-level job and, while he is awesome at it and moving fast, it’s not the big bucks. Having even a little extra every month would have been so awesome, but my job was with a nanny company. An awesome nanny company, by the way. But still. I would be watching other people’s children in their home while mine were in daycare, and we live in an awkward location. Needless to say, it just wasn’t financially possible. Thus, my sudden wonderful plunge into what I really wanted to do: stay at home and become a Domestic Goddess.

Just days into it, I realized how peaceful and surreal life became once I tuned out the pressures and demands and just was. Children have this ability. You see it when your little girl squats at the curb to pick a flower, while you’re wrangling your purse, a diaper bag, and the phone while trying to get her into the car for school. Or, when your little boy crashes through the house screaming like a deranged ninja. They understand how to just… be. We adults, however, have forgotten.

I fully lump myself into this category. (A blog of which I cannot remember the name opened my eyes to it. If I remember, I will MOST DEFINITELY post the link at the bottom, or right here. It is superb. But I digress.) In high school, I was told to do everything at all times so that I didn’t miss out on anything and had a great resume. Senior year half-days? Yeah, right! I took on a full load plus some, did sports, chapel, student government, church activities, Girl Scouts (laugh later, I had cookies), and worked. I look back now and have no idea how I did it. Part of me is jealous of previous me.

That mentality translated into my college years, especially when I got pregnant the end of my first semester. Suddenly, being the 4.0 student wasn’t enough. I had to prove to everyone that I could do the “mom thing” while still being a student and being responsible. The next four years, I hardly remember. There were times I worked two jobs. Times I worked full-time and went to school part-time. Times I stayed home. Times I just worked. But all of it was consumed by this thought of “I’m not doing enough. I need to do more.” If I was at home, I felt ashamed that I wasn’t working or in school. If I was working or in school, I was bereft because I wasn’t with my children. I’m aware that this is not how many women are, and that’s ok! It’s just how I was.

This constant tug-of-war of “things,” though, left me missing out on what was important. The memories I do have of #1 are those few times I stopped to “pick the flower.” The moments of holding him while he nursed, with that sweet cheek pressed against my arm and those little eyes closed. The moments of sitting in the clovers at university, those blue eyes wide in amazement as he picked at each little white head. The times we went to the park just to spend time together, or… and I’ve hit a gap.

I missed so much. It was necessary, perhaps, because of my family’s circumstances, but before I knew it, he was potty trained and off to play with the big kids. I missed it. I missed those little memories that make the moments count.

So this Sunday, I’m procrastinating. I’ll probably take a quick shower, leave the contacts in their case, and throw on some dress to rush out the door. Make-up? What make-up? I know not what you speak of. What I do know is that I’ve watched my baby enjoy the snot out of a Mum-Mum, discover the birds outside, and snuggle against my shoulder while we danced to songs I made up and messed up.  I refuse to miss out any more. And if I go to work again in the future, you can bet that when I’m home, my priority will be them and their father, not whether the house is spotless or the meals exquisite. Someone said the greatest gift you can give your child is your time. I agree. But let’s add to that. The greatest gift you can give yourself is the memory of them. They won’t stay this age forever, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Don’t miss out just because the world tells you to. The show can wait. Facebook and Twitter won’t crash. The church does not need you every moment, and neither does your job. Take a moment. Snuggle before bed. Let them help make dinner. Lay on your belly and see their world. Do something. Don’t miss out.

 

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