Cherish the Days
The other day while cleaning out a kitchen cabinet I came across a set of tiny lunchbox notes I’d found on clearance. I bought them for Eldest when she was in first grade. I loved sticking those in her lunchbox. It felt like a sweet reminder of how much she means to me and was a great way to connect with her during the day.
But I’m cheap. I reused several of the cards. I didn’t want to use the notes all at once, lest I run out. I was afraid to be extravagant. I kept them in a drawer and only pulled a note out occasionally. Like other good intentions, one day they got lost in the back of the junk drawer. Out of 20 notes, I only used about five. The rest sat under a pile of cooking supplies, useless.
It’s been six years since I purchased those cards. As a sixth grader, my daughter isn’t keen on opening cutesie little notes in her lunchbox. She’s more likely to roll her eyes than to show it to all her friends. Maybe if I taped a dollar bill to it, she’d love it, but in many ways those days have passed for us.
I missed my chance. How often is life like that? I think, I can do that with the kids tomorrow. There will be time another day for me to be with her. But the days blur together and suddenly years have passed in a whirlwind of memories.
I’ve learned to stop and think about the passing moments. What is important? I used to think my home being perfect was of utmost importance. I thought my to-do list reigned supreme. But as the years pass, I realize so many of those to-dos get done at some point or fade away. But what’s important to me is the memories and relationships I’ve built with my family.
I think about this often as we put our girls to bed. For years, Eldest wanted another story, another hug, another moment. Today, I have to ask her for a hug. She reads to herself. But she often wants me to sit in her room and talk. In those moments, all I can think about is getting into bed. Yet, I do my best to sit there at least for a few minutes. Those are the best conversations we have as mother and daughter.
Then there’s my daughter with autism. For years, Rachel wanted little interaction besides bouncing or carrying. Reading to her was harder than carving a turkey in a pack of ravenous dogs. If I pulled out a book at bedtime, she ran away, hid in the closet, or covered her ears. Sometimes she screamed. By that point I wanted to hide under the bed. As she progressed, she would sign “No,” until I left the room. At 10 years old, Rachel finally wants me to read to her, but she has a system. The books must be read in order, then two bedtime songs, tickles, and a prayer.
The ritual can be exhausting. It’s sameness chafes like sandpaper pajamas. As a therapist, I think helping her accept changes is good, but bedtime isn’t the best part of day to start something big, especially since my goal is to grow closer to her, not force her into breaking her routines.
If I’ve learned anything as a mom, it’s that these days will pass, too. I won’t remember my exhaustion. I’ll remember the MOMents I spent with my daughters, growing closer to them.
Does that mean I never get any of my stuff done? Of course not. Someone has to make meals. (The people around here have a thing about wanting to eat several times a day. Can you believe it?) Dishes have to get done and bills have to be paid. I work. Hubby works. Homework must be finished. But there is time in there somewhere. Sometimes it means letting other things slide a bit. It’s okay. I can do those things when Eldest is in college.
The days seem long, but years pass in a blur. As a new mom with two tiny children hanging on me every moment, the concept of time slipping away was difficult to understand. I was so tired that dragging myself from one minute to the next felt impossible. Then I blinked. Boom. Twelve years passed.
I don’t want to lose those MOMents in a drawer the way I did those lunchbox notes. I want to cherish them so that I live without regret.
To read more about “being” with your kids and letting go of “doing,” check out Be the Mom by Tracey Eyster.