"You know, when the kids are young you would sell your soul for 15 minutes to yourself, but when they're gone, you miss it."
I know. I've been told a million times, I think about it every single night after E goes to bed. I see it in my future. And still, it's so easy to get caught up in the daily squabbles and frustrations and to lose perspective. But looking at that woman yesterday, seeing the lines and wrinkles camouflaged with brightly coloured accessories that she has nothing but time to shop for, listening to her chat with her son, trying to stretch the conversation out just a little bit longer, I found myself wondering where she was going when she left, without him. I'm sure she has a life that she's leading, probably one that she enjoys. I'm sure that she doesn't spend her days sitting in a rocking chair, remembering all the good times when her kids were young. But I'm also sure she's sad sometimes. And lonely. And wishes the house wasn't so quiet, or that someone needed a permission slip signed, or a ride to hockey practice, or a hug from mom. And I found myself hoping that she doesn't have too many regrets.
I listened to another mom today, because I'm a sucker for punishment, describe the magic of the ordinary day. The part that jumped out at me was when she talked about "saying goodnight…in person." I won't be able to do that one day with E, and that blows my mind.
I know one thing. I don't want it to end. I want E to be small and with me forever. I'm one of those moms. Sure it will be great to see what kind of a woman she becomes and to share all of the milestones with her, but I don't think there's anything that can beat the unwavering adoration between a parent and a young child. I'm a very sensitive person, and having a child has often left me feeling like I've shed my skin and am walking around completely unprotected from the tragedies of life, large and small. I have a good friend whose mom cries every time they talk on the phone. Every. Time. We used to giggle good-naturedly when we could hear her tearing up at the end of a conversation. I get it now. It must be so hard to let a whole big chunk of your heart just get up and walk out the door. I never want to know what that feels like.
I know the answer is not to make sure I absolutely cherish and enjoy every single little second between now and when she finally pries herself loose from the apron strings I've triple knotted and dipped in crazy glue. There are going to be hard times, and scary times and angry times. But in good times and in bad, I think the best thing that I can do is to be the most open, accepting and loving person I can be for her. If I can just manage to love the heck out of her while she lets me, then maybe she'll remember that and come back for more when she needs it.
Restraint is important too. Not everything that runs through my head needs to come out of my mouth. I have a big mouth, and things fall out of it sometimes that shouldn't. I'm working on it.
So...heart open, mouth closed. That's my plan. A suit of armor would also be nice...waterproof mascara…a killer long distance plan…and a good therapist might not be the worst idea I've ever had.
Best feeling ever in the whole wide world.