Raising kids is tough, occasionally super-tough. There are times you think you’ll never survive. But you do. And looking back, you realize it’s one of the best, most life-changing jobs you’ll ever have. Still, certain parts I would never have the stamina to relive…
Getting them on the morning bus – Every parent knows this last-minute mayhem. Shoes disappear that were there moments before. Urgent papers are pulled out of backpacks, needing to be signed as the bus is pulling up. Convenient “stomach aches” have to be verified for authenticity. I remember often feeling I needed a glass of wine at 7:15 a.m.
And yet…the other day, I was sitting in my car, watching kids get off a bus in late afternoon. I saw parents’ faces light up as their little ones scurried toward them. I saw the hugs and kisses. I saw the proud showing of artwork or some little trophy. And I saw then how I miss those moments, those daily reunions, when my kids returned safely home after a long day.
Helping with schoolwork – I tried to muster interest in long division and earth science and beginning Spanish. I really did. Yes, English was more my thing, but I hadn’t read “The Great Gatsby” since high school so even that was a struggle. I just wasn’t a natural enthusiast when it came to my kids’ schoolwork.
Still…the other day, I was cleaning out my son’s old room when I came upon a collection of those little hand-made clay figures he and his brother made in art class. I remember my kids coming home, proudly handing over their latest masterpiece – a man’s face, a green dog, a lopsided house. As I picked up each little treasure, I realized I miss getting these on a regular basis.
Early morning soccer games – Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a sports gal. Two days before Super Bowl Sunday, I can’t tell you who’s playing. So, having to get out of bed early Saturday to walk onto any playing field was excruciating. I’d try and smile and match the enthusiasm of my fellow parents. Usually all I could do was muster an occasional, anemic “Good goal!”
But… a funny thing happened the other day. I was in our village market on Saturday morning. A gaggle of soccer kids and their parents burst in. I heard them talking and laughing about a winning play. And that’s when I realized I miss that sense of community. I miss my kids being part of a team. I miss being in the town’s “Parent Club,” even if was for something I was less than enthused about.
Serving daily dinners of mac & cheese, hamburgers, and chicken fingers – That’s the annoying thing with kids. They need dinner every day. My problem was that meal prep came at my most tired, wilted time. Looking back, my offerings were stupidly simple and sometimes served by a cranky mother.
However…the other night, my oldest came over for dinner. Patrick now rooms with buddies. My youngest Paul lives home, but is always working and socializing. It’s rare having dinner with just the two of them. As we sat around the table, I realized I miss the daily catching up. My meals may have been basic back then, but there was something nice about cheering a good grade, commiserating over something that went wrong at school, or laughing at their jokes. It brought us closer.
The frenzy of Christmas – I admit, I kvetched about the constant work of this holiday when my kids were little. The decorating, the tree, the presents, the food, the cookies, and the wrappings — all seemed to go on and on. Thank God Randy was a better shopper and knew the best gifts for our sons. Still, I remember getting to December 25th feeling like I’d finished a triathlon.
Then…something funny happened last year. I found myself alone in the living room on Christmas morning, waiting for everyone. And that’s when I realized I missed it. I missed the look of excitement on my little boys’ faces as they scampered to the tree…usually at 6:30 a.m.
And yes, I still spend Christmas mornings with my sons – now hulking guys with beards, holding mugs of black coffee—and I love that. But for all my grousing, I miss that innocent joy of past Christmases.
It’s funny, when you’re in the heat of the parenthood battle, you don’t see the things you’ll miss later. You don’t see the small moments that will someday make you ache with nostalgia.
Sometimes I think I’d like to go back and visit, just for a few hours …even if it means having to eat macaroni & cheese.
What did you find hard about parenthood? What do you miss? Comments are always welcome and if you like, please share. Thank you!