Today I read another post about cherishing these days that are so long. I teared up. And then I wrote this.
I walked out of Target with my two little boys in tow the other day, the baby screeching happily about something fantastic, and my three-year-old happily holding a Spiderman-branded item he'd talked me into buying like he was a damn Enron executive selling employee stock. I know, like only a mother can, that his fierce negotiation skills do not lead to a good place.
Anyway, on this walk out, we passed a woman in her fifties. I saw her smile the nostalgic smile I've seen so many times from similar women. I gave her my standard Cheshire cat grin back. You know the one, ladies. It says, "Yep, my life is pretty awesome right now, in case you couldn't tell, but I know you can because you wish you had these years back! I've got two little cherubs who make the cup spilleth over."
But then I remembered my day. Normally I don't work on this day, but I went for a few hours. WHY? For a meeting. Because, truly, sitting in a meeting talking about calories on menuboards sounds one JILLION times better than spending those same three hours being defied. It sounds better than cooking and then cleaning up a mess. It sounds better than listening to a three-year-old beg for TV and then getting mad when he doesn't listen.
Some people plan to go back to work full-time when their kids are in school. I'm not one of them. I plan to quit and get some time back for myself while they are in school!
I wiped that smile off my face.
I read the same posts you do. The ones that scream that this is all so fleeting and implore us to cherish these sweet, tender moments before they are gone. Here's a thought, though. A lot of people said the same thing about high school. Then they said it about college. I look back nostalgically on those times. I have the appropriate pictures filed in albums to remember them and, thanks to facebaook, I relive them every Thursday now as well. However, I would not ever choose to rewind the years to that point. It was truly once-in-a-lifetime, because it is meant to be only once-in-a-lifetime.
I don't want to leave my family for the first time or live in disgusting off-campus housing ever again. I don't want to be able to easily attend a party and then go to class the next day. I don't want to walk to parties in 10 degree weather. These were awful times that would have killed me had they continued!
I hope, truly I do, that in 15 years when my kids are almost grown I will not be sad. I hope I will remember that this muck I'm in right now is hard and stop any incipient tears because the day is formidable when every second is devoted to entertaining/battling/teaching a small child. And it truly is every second of 13+ hours which doesn't sit well with me. I need time to recharge and a few hours a night aren't cutting it.
Will I miss this when he tells me he's off to see his friends or go golfing with his dad?
I'm not so sure. I think I will revel in my newfound, lost ability to sit down and read a book at an hour other than 10pm. I think I'll enjoy a few moments to pay bills, check email, or review a deck without my presence being demanded in the other room while my guilt builds. I think I'll delight in running to the store without convincing anyone of the need for clothes for such an excursion while simultaneously filling a huge bag to the brim with snacks and diapers.
I'll miss the hugs and high voices, the questions and admiration, the curiosity and unbounded energy but I know there will be new things like intelligent conversations and friendship to fill the places we've moved past.
I want to move on because a few more years of this will kill me.
Have we all been mistaking those smiles at Target from our predecessors for nostalgia when they are could very well be joy? We're going home with our kids while they are headed back to read a book and eat something other than string cheese.