A few weeks ago I had an experience that just made me stop and look at the world differently--you know the kind of glimpse you get when suddenly you think, Why didn't I see it that way before? Reminds me of the song in Runaway Bride that says (paraphrasing), "Today, I took a walk among the flowers...I never saw blue like that before."
It's been a busy summer. I didn't know why I was feeling so exhausted and impatient. I seriously felt like running away from home. Then talking with a friend I realized that with all six children home every day, it had taken it's toll on my time. So I got it together and worked with my husband to carve out some time for myself. Wonderful. Good. End of story.
Except that this through this one particular moment I suddenly looked at my children and thought--am I missing the cream? Am I just waiting for them to hurry and grow up so I can get some sleep, and in the meantime, missing the good stuff?
I'm not talking about being hard on ourselves or not owning that it's a tough season of life, not at all. And generally I feel like I am a good mother, as you are. But sometimes I wonder in our society, and in our private moments, if we are missing the joy of children.
I read years ago in C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce--about people from Hell getting a chance to visit Heaven-- that while there they saw a beautiful woman with the most extraordinary light and angelic singing around her, and just the most majestic, incredible sight you could see. Someone said, Oh that must have been someone very important (like a senator or president). And the host said, Oh no, she was a mother.
Too often, I confess, I am ready for them to nap before they are, too functional because we need to keep a schedule and too quick to cut the humor out of our life.
I have had not one, but MANY people for some reason lately (in a grocery store, on a walk) share with me, "It flies Connie, you will blink and they will be gone." Of course, that's usually when it's a very long day and I think, I know you are right but I just can't feel it.
So I have tried very hard to jump forward and see what it will feel like not to have them here everyday. It's been an interesting experiment. I find myself paying attention to their spirit more than the state of their rooms. I look in their eyes more and cup my hands on their cheeks, even my older ones. When my Cindy-Lou-Who looking three-year-old was supposedly down for the night, we heard a soft creak, then a patter, then, the impish face peeking around saying, verbatim, "Mom, I want to cuddle you...I just want to be with you...I just like you."
I have put down my notepade on "my time" and played another game or simply looked into their eyeballs while, in discovery, they pluck and rip out mine.
I am learning to listen to them and to take note. Yesterday my daughter skipped on the sidewalk as we talked of what things she could be when she was older. She turned to me in pure elation and freedom and said, "Mom, when I grow up, I want to be myself." Then a skip and a turn, "I don't know what I want to do, but I know I can do it." I almost burst into tears right there. At six she has savvy that took me years to learn. As I listen to her, and FEEL her words, I feel strengthened and know I can do it too.
My husband and I got a glimpse awhile ago of what it may truly feel like to not have them here. We had been over a group of young adults in our church, about 25 of them from 18 to 30. Then things changed and the adults began attending a specific time block for their age group. One Sunday we were all connected, the next Sunday they were gone. I was bereft. I wasn't emotionally prepared for the change, though I knew it was coming. Their spirit, energy and vitality, our connection was gone. And though it wouldn't have been right or any good to try to prolong it--they needed to move on--it still has left a space in my heart that I just don't know how to fill.
I imagine that's a little like what my own children leaving will be.
So now, thanks to your and others' sweet reminders, I am trying to soak up the cream now. To see them, to experience them and not wish it away for a better time. To simply enjoy.
All my best,
Mother of 6