I Am Afraid I May Have Wished It All Away

I wish he would start sleeping through the night…I wish she would hold her bottle on her own…I wish he would learn to sit up…I wish she could tell me exactly what she wanted…I wish he would figure out potty-training…I wish she could pour herself some milk…I wish he would watch something besides “Thomas the Tank Engine”…I wish she went to school for longer than two-and-a-half hours…2008-11-30 Thanksgiving

Now they do. And now I am afraid I wished it all away. My baby starting Kindergarten has hit me a little harder than I had expected. Cut to just a few short weeks ago, I was the one listing off the reasons it was time for my kids to go back to school. I was antsy, on the verge of discovering for the first time the freedom that comes with having both of my children educated all day long, five days a week. This was something I had passing fantasies about for the last eight years. So I didn’t expect to find myself grieving when my wish finally came true.

The first real wave of sadness came a week and a half after Michael started Kindergarten. The first day I went to pick up the kids from school, I pulled into the parking lot and almost instinctively started to get out of my car and head over to the tree where all the moms bring their little ones to play while waiting for the students to let out. Then it hit me: I don’t have a little one to bring to the tree. I was alone in the car. I felt as though I should pull out my phone to check my emails in the driver’s seat, just like all the other moms of older kids. I may as well start online shopping for graduation invitations while I was at it.

But the real emotional juggernaut came later, when Michael had a late start day at school. I decided to take advantage of a little alone time with him and head to a park. Mid-morning…at a playground. It’s like Mecca for toddlers. I couldn’t help but have constant flashbacks to the days of having little ones, as I was surrounded by all these moms with tots. I was suddenly overcome with the feeling that I hadn’t enjoyed those days enough…and now I had missed my chance.

In order to get my mind off of it, I suggested to Michael we take a little walk. We sat by the pond playing I Spy. Michael was coming up with his typical answers that are either totally obvious (“I spy with my little eye something that is blue and on my foot“…. Your shoe?“Yes.”) or totally funny (“I spy with my little eye something big that blows fire”… A dragon?… “Yes”… Where’s a dragon? “In my imagination.”). As we were playing, I couldn’t help but think about when he was younger, and he would simply spy the exact same thing the person before him spied. Grace and I used to giggle at him and try to pretend like we didn’t know what it was. As soon as we made one wrong guess, he would just tell us the answer. Either that, or he would simply start off saying, “I spy wiff my wittle eye a tree.” …Um, is it a tree?…“Yes.” As I oscillated between reminiscing and playing the game with him beside the pond, he said something so poignant, proof that God speaks to us through little moments.

“I spy with my little eye something that is red and inside you, and you give it to people when you miss them.”

I asked if it was your heart. He answered yes.

“You give your heart to people when you miss them so they feel better.”

I detected a slight break in his voice, which I knew was caused by his anxiety over the impending start time of school. I told him my heart is always with him to help calm the fears he is still trying to overcome. But I felt a break in my own voice…because I knew I was going to miss this moment one day…just like I was missing what already seems like a long ago time when we could come to the park on a whim, and I would be carrying around baggies of Cheerios and sippy cups of water in my purse. And both of my children wore tiny little shoes and outfits that matched because they still let me dress them. And I would shadow them around the playground, secretly wishing that someone we knew would show up so I could have a just little adult conversation. In stark contrast, at this moment by the pond, I barely made eye contact with the other parents, because all I wanted to do on this day was play with my son.wishedaway But it was time to take Michael to school, and I had spent the last five years of his life, and the last eight years of Grace’s life, wishing it all away…so I could have MY time. Now I’m spending my time wishing it would all come back. It can’t come back. I know that. It is silly to waste time wishing for it, because all I would be doing is missing out on who my children are NOW. I spent their past looking at the future; it would be a crime to spend their present looking at the past.

It is as if Michael knew on some level what I was going through that mid-morning by the pond. He somehow felt I was missing him in his toddler form, with a nose that was always snotty, a mouth that ate everything but food, and a body always ready to snuggle. So he told me something that let me know that same little heart was still beating in his bigger self, and made me realize that the boy he is now is better than the one I could have ever wished for then.

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237 thoughts on “I Am Afraid I May Have Wished It All Away

  1. I think all mothers wish it that way. When the babies are in the crib, we wish they could walk. When they start walking we wish they were in school. When they start going to school, we think things will settle down once they start college. AND when they get in college, we wish things were back to when our children were still babies! I still miss the time when my children were toddlers, saying those garbled words, just making mess and topping it will a angelic smile!

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  2. when my son started school for the first day , I cleared my schedule, was prepared to spend time in the kindergarten in case he cries or had to be sent home. I took him to school on my two wheeler and as I was parking it, he slipped from the back took his bag, I asked him to wait but with in minutes he was inside the gate and happily in the play area, on a swing in front of school, without even a goodbye. I had to shout for him and say good bye and he just waved , he was too happy and excited. I came back wondering what to do with rest of my day and missed him.
    Same thing happened with my daughter she was too eager to get out of the car and practically ran inside the building , met few kids and started playing, I was like , what!. but then this time blow was a little less profound then my son’s time. In a way I was happy that they were independent just the way I wanted them to be, but yes it was kind of sad to let go too.

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  3. This post hits home on so many levels. I am on my 5th baby and I find my self again wishing they wouldn’t be so little or wishing just enough that they could hold their own head up or sit on their own so I could have a moment or two to myself without having to hold a baby all the time. Now when I look at my now 7 year old I miss him when he was just a baby. Not sure if I miss him being so little he couldn’t talk because now all he does is talk back and give me attitude. But I still find myself wishing the time would roll backwards so I could have just another moment to cuddle with that sweet little innocent boy.

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    1. Well, I think someone with five kids deserves to wish for anything that makes life a little easier 🙂 But it’s kind of nice to hear that even someone with many children, one of which is still a baby can feel this way. I sometimes wonder if having one more would help ease this feeling…but I guess no matter how many kids you have, they all grow up.

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  4. A very heartfelt post. Society needs to listen to it’s heart more and it’s children. They have to grow up – one of my favourite poems is, Your children are not your children, by Kahlil Gibran. But do make more time to be with them.

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  5. Kell – I want to compliment you on this post….I’m stalling because I’m trying to figure out how to make my compliment ‘mean something’ to you, so how do I do that? Why do I even want to do that? Perhaps it’s a common personal need that comes to many (most) of us when they begin to think that ‘they have it figured out’. That’s the stage of life I am in and let me tell you – it is freaking awesome! My 1st 2 boys are grown and doing spectacular and my 3rd, well, let’s just say the jury has not even left their bench yet. Otherwise here I am, here “we” are and we’ve built a life of accomplishments together. Our kids are great and we have the benefit now of looking backwards and shouting ‘see people? this is how it’s done!’ Take a look at a recent photo tweet I made the other night of my boys from 1994. I want it to be 1994 again so badly sometimes that I can almost taste it. Your story took me back to 1994 for 5 minutes. I tend to ‘get into things’ so yes, I have a tear right now. That’s what good writing though is supposed to do – move you. Thanks for moving me. Nice job!

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    1. Well, you succeeded. What a wonderful comment, and I am truly touched that my post inspired those thoughts. It is high praise. Knowing the joy you feel about your children now that they are grown is also a nice thing to hear…it shows me that even though I miss what has already passed, I have so much to still look forward to.

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  6. As a mother of 2 boys (2 and a half and 7 months) I honestly try and cherish every moment but cherishing every moment is also abit of a myth! Every person has there breaking point and it’s only natural to want these things especially when your so tired after a hard day. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world! In general I do cherish every second with my boys but like many my lack of patient can sometimes get the better of me! Great read!

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    1. You’re right. It is REALLY hard to cherish every moment …even when they aren’t itty bitty. And I don’t think we need to feel warm and fuzzy about it all the time. We can’t. But when I wrote this post, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that maybe I could have found more little moments to stop and take note of. I can honestly say that since writing this, I do find myself to be more aware of the GOOD stuff about the ages my children are, instead of getting bogged down by the rough stuff.

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