Close your eyes. Relax. Focus on your breath. Be present. Be in the moment.
Those directions for meditation could well apply to parenthood.
It goes fast. It really, really goes fast.
Be present so that one day you’ll remember, and be glad.
I knew, even at the time, that the wonderful time I had raising small children was fleeting. Even during the very hard times, I somehow realized that this was the most important, joyful time of my life and I should treasure it. I tried very hard to be in the moment. To be conscious of the wonder.
I somehow knew that even though some days crawled by, the time would fly.
But I honestly never thought about the day I would look back. Certainly I never imagined looking back as a grandmother at my children and their children.
Recently, my son sent me a video of his son holding and “reading” a Sweet Pickle book. I don’t know how many of you Kveller readers had these books but they were unavailable in book stores and available only with a mail subscription. They were charming and fun and there were 24 books, each corresponding to an animal whose name began with a letter of the alphabet. So there was Alligator, Bear, Camel and so on. Anyway, my son was constantly sick with respiratory infections for the first six years of his life (yes, yes, I did breastfeed him) and between ear infections and croup, we were up together for many, many nights. I had a stash of Sweet Pickle books in the basement and each time he got sick, he would get another one for us to read as we sat in the steamy bathroom, hoping to relieve the croupy cough, or sat on the rocking chair to keep him upright during an ear infection. (Note that, readers: Ear infections are much more painful if the child is lying down.)
I saved the books and presented them to him when he had his first baby.
I got a big kick out of my grandson holding that book but the poignancy did not escape me. During those cold winter nights in that steamy bathroom, could I have ever imagined my son’s son holding these same books?
Last week, I took two of my grandchildren to the very same playground in Central Park in which I had played as a young child. Gone were the dangerous monkey bars and high slides with no padding to soften the concrete ground. The whole area was constructed and laid out differently. But I recalled playing there every day for many years and the view–the tall buildings, past which I could almost glimpse my own house, the large corner church, the bus stops–was exactly the same.
I certainly never imagined that my grandchildren would one day play there, would one day explore, with me, the very same hills in the park that I had sledded down as a kid. (Why do those hills look so much lower?)
This summer, my two oldest grandsons went to sleep-away camp for a few days. Some of the happiest days of my life were spent in camp as a teenager. I met my husband there the summer I turned 16. But I was “going” with someone else that summer and I learned that this man, preserved in my memory as an 18-year-old boy, died of cancer several years ago. What would it have been like to be able to look ahead and know what was to come? No one would have wanted to. We were so happy and satisfied in the moment.
The most popular song that summer was Judy Collins’ “Both Sides Now,” in which she sang that, “Something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day.” I didn’t understand what that really meant back then. I do now.
When we were teenagers in summer camp, we thought we’d live forever.
When we were young mothers, we thought it would last forever. (Sometimes it seemed like forever.)
As you get older, time moves more quickly. Believe me when I say that, one day when you look back, this time will seem like a DVD on fast forward. (And when your kids are your age, they won’t even remember what a DVD was.)
But you will want to remember. So–every chance you get, mentally press “pause” and cherish the wonder and the delight with which your children bless you.
So–close your eyes. Relax. Be present. Be in the moment.
Do it so one day, a day that will come sooner than you think, you’ll remember.