Things I Miss Most Now That My Children Are Grown

I was cleaning out some boxes I had packed away, and ran across some old photos which made me feel nostalgic for my children’s younger years.

Seeing photos of cub scout outings, little league games, recitals, birthday parties, vacations, and Christmas mornings I found myself longing for when my children were little.

In spite of a couple of teary eyed moments, there was a constant smile on my face and I often laughed out loud as I gazed at picture after picture.  I could not help but think to myself that once upon a time I was involved in my children’s day-to-day life, and I was also the center of their universe.  After I carefully placed the scattered photos back into the box I began to reflect on what I miss most about those days.

Tucking my children into bed, snuggling, reading and having long conversations. When they were little, I would often lay with them as they began to drift off to sleep during nap time or bedtime. I would gaze at their faces and sometimes I would trace their features with my eyes, brush my hand against their cheek and sometimes they would twitch or let out a soft sigh as they snuggled closer to me.  I was so in love. When they got a little older we might have discussions about the day or life in general and sometimes I would rub a back or pull eyebrows (my oldest son loved for me to do this – still does). I miss the intimacy of those quiet conversations. I loved reading to them and fiction stories with pictures on each page were the order of the evening when they were young and eventually became chapter books as they got a little older. I would play “good brother, bad brother” with my hands as puppets which always ended the evening with giggles.  My youngest son would suck his two middle fingers and would occasionally pull them out of his mouth and use them to point to interesting pictures in the story.  When I close my eyes I can still hear him slurping as I read stories to him at bedtime. If I was tired and wanted to get the story read quickly I would try to skip a page or two or shorten the dialogue, but my daughter always called me on it.

I miss going to bed at night knowing that all my children are safe and sound in their own beds under one roof.

All of the “firsts” – First word, first step, first day of school.  I remember all of the “firsts” with my children filled me with such joy and excitement.  The way my heart beat quicker when they each said “mum ma” for the first time. The way their little legs wobbled as they took their first steps while their faces shined with sweet smiles as they toddled into my open arms.  I will always remember when I dropped my daughter off for her first day of Kindergarten. The children did not go directly to a classroom, but assembled outside on the playground.  Parents had been instructed to not walk their children into the building.  I drove my car around to the back of the school and parked off to one side so I could see my daughter as she was escorted to the playground.  At first she stood alone for a few minutes looking so little and bewildered as she watched the other children playing.  My heart was breaking and I wanted to put my arms around her and take her back home with me.  (I still get teary eyed when I think of that moment.) About that time two little girls went running over to her and the next thing I knew she took off running with them.  All day long I thought of her and hoped she was comfortable and content. She was all smiles when I picked her up later that day.

I enjoy their adult “firsts”  ~ first baby, first apartment, first job…but these firsts now include other people and this is a very, very good thing, but those days when it was just us are so very special.

The noise ~ the sound of their voices ~ their presence.   I miss their laughter, the impromptu conversations, the sound of their footsteps entering the kitchen or rumbling up and down the stairs. They did not always make a joyful noise, they did their fair share of bickering, crying, and back talk.  But I do miss knowing they were in the other room watching tv, upstairs lost in their own private world of their bedrooms, in the basement playing ping pong, or outside riding bikes with neighborhood friends. I miss being able to talk to them almost anytime I wanted.  Car rides to ballgames, swim meets, tennis matches, scout meetings, and school events were opportunities to catch up or just enjoy the comfortable quiet of being together with someone you love.

I remember longing for the sound of quiet and now, some days, the silence can be deafening.  I miss the noise.

Serving pancakes in different colors or shapes for breakfast, giggles in the dark, Mother’s Day morning surprises, vacations, sweet kisses, warm hugs, wiping tears, bandaging boo boos ~ I could go on…and on…and on…and on.

And suddenly they’re grown.

 

Rear-view Mirror

I turned right after the red light turned green behind a line of cars.  All of the cars ahead of me were traveling at or just below the speed limit and were keeping safe distances between each other.  The road is two lanes with several areas containing orange construction barrels (the county is currently widening the bridges over the lake and will eventually widen the lanes), 55 mph speed limit, and is known for deer crossing.  It  has become a main thoroughfare, a stretch of 36 miles, and sometimes 18 wheelers use it as a crossover to avoid big city traffic congestion so safe driving requires full attention.

As I glanced in my rear-view mirror I noticed this guy in a white pick up truck gradually pull up behind me and stayed on my tail for a good eight miles.  I could barely see his headlights he was following me so closely.

As we traveled down the road I kept glancing in my rear-view mirror at him which caused me to begin to neglect my duties of being a responsible driver.  I began to feel stressed and agitated so my hands would grip the steering wheel tighter.  I kept imagining him running into the back of my car if I had to stop suddenly.

I decided to try to tune him out and keep my focus on the road ahead and off of my discomfort of having him follow me so closely.  Even though I could not help but glance back another time or two, I did begin feel more relaxed and in better control of the situation.  As soon as we all merged onto the freeway entrance ramp he zoomed past all of us and quickly became someone else’s problem.

This whole incident made me consider the way I am prone to think when I have something troubling on my mind.  I tend to keep looking in my “rear view mirror” at the things I cannot really change or control. I let the stress and concern get to me and it causes me to tighten my grip ~ similar to how I felt with my morning tail-gating experience.

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Glancing in my rearview mirror is all part of being a good driver, but if it is done too much or too often, sooner or later there is going to be an accident. I need to shift my focus to the windshield and keep my mind on my destination instead of what is behind me.

Keep your focus in the direction of your destination and only glance at the past as necessary to stay aware of where you have been. – Pearl Zhu

*Side note:  There is not much traffic on this particular road so I was able to stop to take this photo.

Personal Reflection: Do I look at my rear view mirror too often?

Newest Grandchild

I am so proud and happy to introduce my newest grandson.  The photos pretty much speak for how blessed and happy we are to welcome this newest bundle of love to our family.

“You have filled my heart with greater joy” Psalm 4:7 

“Every good and perfect gift is from above” James 1:17

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Savoring Lake Rabun

I know spring is here, but wanted to share this post. Early fall (and spring) can be very pleasant here in the South.  The last week of September M. and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and planned an overnight trip to nearby Lake Rabun. M. was wanting to go somewhere a little different and since we had never explored this area before we were curious to see what it had to offer.

We spent the day making impromptu detours through some of the small towns we drove past.  One stop was at this nursery.  M. loves to garden so the pretty mums and fall decor made it impossible to drive past without taking a look.

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After purchasing a cute little clay pot snowman to add to our Christmas decor, we ventured closer to our destination.

We were getting hungry and decided on a place called the Universal Joint to have lunch. It is a former gas station they converted to a restaurant.  The weather was pleasant so we chose to eat our yummy sandwich at a table outdoors.

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After a visit to an apple farm, we finally arrived at the Lake Rabun Hotel.  This charming little place is described as a “boutique” hotel. You can’t help but visually relax as you arrive.  The peace and serenity of the gardens and trees that surround you is a welcoming feeling. No televisions or telephones are in any of the cozy guest rooms.  It is a 95-year-old former mountain lodge which has been carefully restored.  Fresh baked cookies, tea, coffee, and assorted sodas are available all day. There is also a restaurant, a small bar and spa services. Local artists have paintings for sale hanging on the walls throughout the hotel. A baby grand piano graces one of the rooms and is available for anyone to tinkle the keys.

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After we checked in and were given a grand tour, we decided to go for a ride and follow the road around the lake. The hotel is snuggled in nature so lake views are limited. Driving along, we noticed trails for hiking.  We later talked with a lady who told us there was boating and swimming available as well as tent and RV camping in certain locations around the lake.

Take a look at some of the boat docks located along the shore.  I have never seen such an elaborate boat dock so I had M. pull over to the side of the road so I could snap these photos. These have lovely sun decks on top, but some we saw looked as if there was a small apartment on the top-level. (We live very close to a lake and the docks I’ve seen are nice, but nothing like these!)  The added bonus was the occasional glimpse of the magnificent homes that go with these boat docks which are nestled slightly uphill in the trees!

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When we returned to the hotel we relaxed and sipped an adult beverage on one of the rooftop decks.

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As the sun began to set, the temperature began to drop, but what an enjoyable evening! We chose to sit outside on the heated screened-in porch with other guests. Taking pictures of food and making it look appetizing is difficult for me, but this chocolate s’mores martini was such a surprise hit I had to share. (Complete with a toasted marshmallow!)  The dinner, grilled wild Alaskan salmon, was one of the best meals we had eaten anywhere, ever.  I am honestly not exaggerating!  The staff was very pleasant and made you feel welcome.

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After dinner we returned to our room. We decided to open the windows so we could enjoy the cool mountain breezes as we drifted off to sleep under warm blankets.

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The next morning we enjoyed a generous gourmet breakfast provided by the hotel. As we loaded up the car to drive home, we could not help but agree that we will be visiting this very special “boutique hotel” and the surrounding area again.

By the way, I do not receive any compensation from any of the places we visit.  I just want to share in case you are interested in a little get away too.

The Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.XGltYWdlc1xjb250ZW50XG5zanU0eXhsazJfY3JhY2tlZF9wb3QuanBnfDMwMHwxODB8My8xNi8yMDE3After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you”.  The bearer asked, “Why? What are you ashamed of?”  The Pot replied, “For these past two years I am able to deliver only half of my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you don’t get full value for your efforts”.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion, he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”  As they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat. 

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The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

(This story is reposted from:  Moral stories:  The Cracked Pot.  Images are free clip art.)

My takeaway from this story is all flaws are subjective and based on our own interpretations and perspectives. We are all cracked pots with our own unique flaws. As we age, the wrinkles or sagging skin, less mobility, the emptiness of a marriage gone stale, the children who grow up and move away, the feeling of no longer feeling needed or appreciated can contribute to the insecurities of looking at yourself as being “flawed”.

But the truth is we are all valuable in ways we can’t always see. Sometimes, it’s the “cracks,” or what we perceive as imperfections, that create something unexpected and beautiful. These “cracks” allow something to change and ultimately make the whole much richer and more interesting. Do not underestimate yourself by comparing yourself with others. It’s our differences that make us unique and precious.

Remember ~ enjoy the perfume of the flowers on your side of the path.