Has anyone ever given you advice in the heat of the moment that is so spot-on you want to punch him or her in the throat? It’s the last thing you want to hear, but it’s wise and something that you will be thankful for in the years that follow.
When Madi was little, very little, she went through a clingy stage as all kids do, and like most kids, one parent was favored – in this case, me. I was the only one she wanted to be with, to be fed by, consoled by, carried by, 24/7. What I wouldn’t give for one of those little hugs now with her arms wrapped around my neck and hanging onto me like we were scaling a mountain side and I was both her safety net and her ride to the top. But in the moment, there was laundry to do, meals to fix, and a job to go to.
One evening I was frustrated and tired and possibly grumbling ever so slightly. I had finally gotten her to sleep, and I plopped down on the couch, completely exhausted. Paul said to me, “I know it’s hard now, but these days won’t last forever. It won’t always be like this.” I remember clearly thinking, That’s easy to say for the person who can actually walk into the bathroom alone.
But he was right. All too soon, she was skipping off to kindergarten as I cried at the drop-off point. There was the first middle school band concert as we sat in the bleachers of the gym and looked at a sea of kids with expressions of concentration on their faces as their toes tapped out the rhythm they were struggling to maintain. To this day the sight of tapping toes makes me teary. There was the first parade with my high school freshman marching down the street playing her heart out with an American flag waving in the background. The first drop off at college, and the first entry into a quiet house.
Marc Parent said in his book Believing It All, “The bittersweet side of appreciating life‘s most precious moments is the unbearable awareness that these moments are passing.“
They are bittersweet when we recognize the moments for what they are. Fleeting. These are the little moments that add up to a beautiful life - if we stop and realize it.
Recently I watched a children’s Christmas play at church. It was loosely controlled chaos at best. There was a lot of itching, scratching, and fidgeting. Some of the kids lost interest half-way through and they were IN it. Someone on stage WHISPERED “It’s almost over,” while another kid couldn’t quit yawning.
One cute little mouse in the play was especially busy - constantly running here and there and even barking at some point in the play. As I glanced over at his mom, I saw her dab her eyes, and I realized: she knew it wouldn’t always be this way. These days won’t last forever. And I’m sure it was bittersweet.