As I looked at the pictures, I touched them, almost hoping to touch those precious little boys again and thinking to myself how badly I want them back...how much I miss them. It's bittersweet to think back so far...to look into the past and realize just how quickly it's all gone by. That's the cruel irony of motherhood...that we don't realize just how much we should have savored each moment until the moments are long gone.
Oh what I wouldn't do to sit up all night and rock my babies. What I wouldn't give to cuddle up to them and kiss them all over and lavish them with mommy's love. What I wouldn't trade to get back the one thing I never really knew I would never have enough of...time.
How I wish I had never been too busy...too tired...too stressed out...too determined to stick to a schedule or maintain a routine. At the time, I just wanted to keep everything moving smoothly...bedtimes, mealtimes, sport practices, homework. Oh, and there were doctor's appointments to keep, hair that needed cut, teeth that had to brushed, baths that must be taken. There were toys to pick up and rooms to be cleaned. There was so much to do and so little time do it all, it seemed.
Little did I know how short the time truly was. I blinked my eyes, and they were grown. Blinked again, and they were gone. Oh if I had only know how quickly it all was going to go by. I would have left a lot of things undone back then. I wouldn't have bothered so much with all those things that didn't really matter in the long run.
How different I would do things if I could do them all over again. I'd get dirty more often. I'd dig trenches with teaspoons and play swords with twigs in the backyard. I'd build more forts out of blankets and learn to play video games. I'd play less PIG and opt for HORSE instead. I'd move a lot slower. Watch a lot closer. Laugh a lot louder.
But alas, there's no turning back the heartless hands of time. I can't undo what's been done. I can't get back what is lost. And sadly, although I can ask those behind me to heed my warning, they likely won't. It's just the reality of motherhood...that none of us truly understand the value of time with our little children until more of it is behind us than ahead. The bigger truth is, no matter how much time we invest in our children, when they are grown, it never feels like it was quite enough.
So if your little ones are still little, I'll do my best to tell you to enjoy every moment...every sleepless, poopy-diaper-filled, bickering in the backseat moment. But my words of middle age motherly advice will probably fall on very tired ears. The busyness of life will get in the way of truly celebrating the moments as they come. It's just the way it is. But for you mothers who have been there done that or are there right now, I'll just say hang in there...cause if you're lucky, grandchildren will be in your future.
And that is the beautiful consolation in all this... that when our children go on to have their own children, well, by then, we do understand how time flies. Being a grandparent allows us to redeem just a little bit of the time we lost out on with our own young ones. Grandparents feel no guilt about rocking a baby incessantly. We feel no urgency to do dishes or laundry when grandbabies are about. The mess they make doesn't bother us and the time they take is of no concern. We know all too well how precious that time really is.
There's no way around the bittersweet irony of motherhood. None of us...no matter how deliberately we might try...fully appreciate what we have until it's gone.