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.