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.

•••

Don’t want to miss a post? Want to stay updated on my author events and news? Subscribe to my Weekly Mayhem Newletter HERE!

Customers who like this blog also follow me on Facebook, Twitter (@RYouFinishedYet), Instagram, and Pinterest.

This post was Freshly Pressed!
This post was Freshly Pressed!

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

  1. While I appreciate the ethos of yr message to ‘take time to make time’ and while no one will disagree that those early years are busy, I do feel the constant expectation for mothers to ‘seize the day’ and be the best 100% of the time, enjoying every second of babies and toddlers is a little over-stated!! I think we can chill out and enjoy our kids and still want certain stages to pass without being made to feel bad…

    Like

    1. You’re right. It is impossible to “seize the day” all the time. I certainly didn’t and still don’t. And that’s not really what this post was about. It was just an honest outlet for a real sadness I was feeling at a moment. My writing helps me work through the ups and downs of parenting, That’s all this post started out as. If it helps people to take away the message to try to be just a little more present and enjoy what they can, all the better. It is unrealistic not to look to the future, and love every single moment of parenting, I will be the first one to admit that. I love that you say we all need to chill out…I think that pertains to a lot of things in life, and I find myself prescribing to that motto more and more as I get older. Thanks for your comment!

      Like

  2. You know, you just need to have another baby… 😉

    Really, though, I have been there, and will be again, no doubt! Hard to keep it all in perspective when you’re busy with the day to day routine–but you sound like you’re getting there! Good on you.

    Like

  3. I’m about to cry reading your post. Great, great post. I have 3 kids that are all in school and I am sad when I see moms push kids around the grocery store (I wished I could shop alone before) and, like you, I wished for adult conversation at the park (now I wish the kids would talk to me). Wonderful post. I’m so glad I read it this morning . I am going to make an effort not to wish anything away. Thanks.

    Like

  4. Beautiful story! For me the most difficult part of my children growing up is the growth it forces upon me. They are 14 and 10 now. They move on from their stages so easily and I get a little lost in what to do now, it helps to reminisce with them on how things use to be , they enjoy these stories . It was wonderful to hear about how your son knew what you may be feeling and acknowledged you ❤

    Like

  5. Oh bless you, it goes in the blink of an eye. but we are only human and tired and we all wish it away some days. Even if you don’t it still goes in the blink of an eye but each stage has its precious times. My son is 6 and Daughter is 15. That song from mamma mia gets me every time. “slipping through my fingers” sigh.

    Like

  6. As an empty nester, I have to say . . . don’t wish it all away. Cherish every moment. And remember to keep your own identity strong – you are more than a parent, you are an individual, a role model for your child.

    Like

  7. I shall never forget when I felt this same pang of regret– it was after I got my Master’s degree as a single mother and realized how much I had missed/sacrificed for a degree. Sigh.
    This was a great article… thank you.

    Like

        1. You know I read your comment and thought about it as I was folding my laundry. You are right, although it is the most rewarding job, parenting is also the most thankless and emotional job. So we do need to cheer each other on. Have a great weekend!

          Like

        2. Ha! I’m doing laundry today too. That alone needs a support group. You have a great weekend as well. Hope you stick around the blog every now and again! I’ve enjoyed our little chat 🙂

          Like

  8. Great post- made me tear up 🙂 I’ve got 18- month- old twin boys and it was a crazy week this week. But I could totally see my future self in your thoughts. (And my present self wishing it all away sometimes!) Thank you for sharing and being so honest.

    Like

  9. Beautiful and heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing this. My younger son just started kindergarten last week, and though I’m enjoying my hours at home alone, I do miss him, and I have moments of regretting not taking better advantage of the time we had before, not enjoying it more in spite of the difficulties. All in all I’m happier with our lives now that everyone is potty-trained and I have a little more time to myself, but it’s hard not to occasionally want to go back, just for a few hours, just to cuddle my babies again and really appreciate it one more time. All we can do is make the most of the time we have now, because some day today will be the day we look back on and long for.

    Jeez, I’m getting all teary here…

    Like

  10. Always searching for the elusive carrots dangling in front of us… more time, easier days, less challenge…it is so much harder to take pause and live in the moment. It is never too late to enjoy the vulnerability and raw power of loving THIS moment! Great post!

    Like

  11. This post made me smile and cry, at the same time. Its so poignant.
    Weirdly, i remember my first day of kindergarten. My grand father was crying outside my class room, the teacher had to ask him to leave. That feeling of saying “bye mom” and stepping out, i felt bereft.
    Reading from a parent’s point of view makes me realise just how wonderful this bond is.
    At least till the time we kids don’t grow up to become absolutely irritating brats.

    Like

      1. Well, i know that now.
        Unconditional love, i feel, is best seen in the parent-child bond and the dog-owner relation.
        😀

        P.s.: Yes! I love blogging. Reading blogs of your caliber makes me want to attain that level of depth and skills.
        🙂

        Like

  12. Aah, you told me something that my mum tried explaining it to me a few days ago…she said that she is happy to see me all grown up but a part of her misses the younger me as then all my time was hers…i didnt see that then but I now know and this is all thanks to you 🙂

    Like

  13. Love that your son was intuitive and spoke in words what you were feeling. We parents are so often the ones learning, aren’t we? Thanks for sharing. Have felt that same ache at different stages, for sure.

    Like

  14. My baby turns 30 next month. So many times I wish for just a few minutes with his five year old self. Just to hear his hearty little boy laugh, hold his trusting little boy hand. Get a hug, ruffle his hair, tickle his belly.
    Thank you for your wonderful post.

    Like

  15. I’m so glad I read your post! It’s beautiful and you described exactly what I’m feeling watching my first head to school. Thanks for making me look at my time with my kids differently.

    Like

  16. My baby just started school too and though I’d been waiting for it since he began to crawl I was beside myself with longing when he wasn’t there in the mornings, following me around with his garbled English which only made sense to me. I think this is when you cut the cord, when you make them take their first step in to an independent society. I kept worrying if he’d make friends, if he’d play nice… I’m still anxious, I don’t think I’ll ever not be anxious for him.

    Like

  17. So beautiful. I read an article with a similar message a little while back and have been trying to be more conscious of enjoying my time with my daughter since. It’s amazing how much happier and more relaxed I feel. She sees all the beautiful details that I would have normally have walked right by. Thank you for another {more eloquent} reminder. *teary smile*

    Like

  18. Great post, I feel the same but mine are off to college, off to university, and one has just graduated and has his first job. It’s a new chapter in my life, but where has all that time gone?
    I often wish for my babes and toddlers back, though I do remember how hard those times were.
    I will enjoy being a Grandmother one day 🙂

    Like

    1. Grandparenting…all the good things about parenting without the hard stuff! Right? Although my mom said now she has to go through feeling this way all over again watching her grandkids grow. Thanks for your comment.

      Like

  19. Going through the same mood your post was written in. A phase I’ve never attempted to capture in words, thinking I’d never be able to. So this is what that heaviness is about! Love your writing. Thank you for breaking my dam 🙂 And I totally relate to the experience…those magical moments when children respond intuitively….get me teary every time. Times when you wonder who’s the grown-up!

    Like

  20. That’s a beautiful post and speaks straight from my heart. I have three children and I just got back from delivering the oldest one, age 19, to the airport as he leaves to volunteer for a year in South Africa (see: christiansmother.wordpress). I can remember my kids starting at kindergarten and I, too, often feel I have wished it all away. Those 19 years have passed so quickly… Enjoy it while you can.

    Like

  21. I really enjoyed this post. I have 2 little girls, 3 and 10 mths old and I find myself constantly wishing I had more time to myself. This is a GREAT reminder that they wont be little forever and to enjoy these moments. Thank you 🙂

    Like

  22. What a sweet little boy with such a sweet heart. It made me tear up – and I’m with the moms that watch the younger kids at the playground, but mine is still young and I just dread the day he gets big. 😦

    Like

  23. Beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes because I have been having VERY similar days. My youngest is 2 and goes to school once a week (by her demand and ever growing lust for knowledge) and my three (almost four) is now at a preschool 3 days a week. I can’t believe how fast time has gone and I remember just a month ago counting down the days until my oldest started school. Now they both go and I know there is no going back after this. They will forever be “school aged children.” My lazy days of lounging around the house bored and crazy with toddler mess have come and gone in a blink of an eye. I pray I haven’t wished it all away just yet… Beautiful post. Thank you.

    Like

  24. Well written, thank you for sharing! I have four children my oldest is in his second year at college, my youngest started 7th grade… And you have said it well… Don’t wish it all away, but don’t dwell in the past, enjoy the NOW! I have to remind myself this when I get a little weepy for my little ones. Keep writing mommy!

    Like

I'm listening...really

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.