December 30, 2010

Don't Even Blink

A new year...sigh...Time is such an interesting thing. Some of us rush through it, others trudge through it, some savor it. I think I'm a savor-er.

It all started with a TV broadcast of Our Town by Thornton Wilder when I was in junior high.The scene that changed my life is in Act 3 when Emily comes back from the dead, back to her childhood kitchen, to all the hustle and bustle of breakfast.  She laments, "It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another." I cried through that scene and vowed to pay attention in my life. 

On my wedding day, I kept looking at my groom as the pastor gave his sermon. I was determined to memorize exactly how he looked standing next to me in his black tux.

I journaled through each hour of labor and delivery (after the fact!). And I filled a dozen notebooks with memories of our three little ones.

I would sit and just watch them. I'd listen to their conversations, marvel at their abilities, and laugh at their antics. We must have the funniest kids on earth! Lots of eye contact, lots of conversation..I didn't want to miss a minute of their lives.

And what is the reward of such immersion, such rapt attention? Children grow up. There's nothing to watch anymore. In fact, I spend most of my days alone and I have to fight feeling sorry for myself.

Just like becoming a new mother, learning and adjusting to the situation, I have to learn to adjust to mine. A new season of life. That's where I am now. 
 Something special happened this week. Everyone is home and we drove an hour to an Indian restaurant, just the five of us, crammed into our little car. This was a monumental feat with young adults aged 21, 18, and 16. Just being in the same room for more than an hour takes a week of planning! But it's that time between Christmas and New Years when everything's on hold and everyone's schedule is pretty flexible. 

The Indian restaurant was wonderful. From the first bite, the memories flowed. Missa was eight, Meg was ten, and Peter was 12 when we all went to India. It was such a fun trip, and everyone talked and laughed about the things they remembered.

On the ride home, someone had to stop for the bathroom, a little jabbing, a little whining (all in good fun), and I just had to laugh. "Now this is normal," I thought. It wasn't all that long ago that we were taking long car rides with three small children. I had flashbacks of hysterical crying, but even so, great memories.

I know most of you are in the middle of the child-raising season of life, and here's my advice to you: Pay Attention. I know it feels like time moves in slow motion, but it's a mirage. It's actually flying by. Don't take the battles and difficulties too seriously. You are experiencing the metamorphosis of a human being. Create positive memories that will bring you together in the future.

Once I find my new "normal" I'll let you know. But for now, I'm just glad I didn't blink.

You can watch my favorite Our Town scene here on YouTube.  


Penny said...

Sigh I love this. Thank you for such a poignant reminder, and sharing how you have reaped the joy of your children's childhoods. Bravo :)

Happy New Year

Ashley @ Root And Twig said...

Oh, I'm already experiencing some of that feeling! My kids are about to be teenagers, and it's a little scary. My husband and I start to look into the future and actually see an empty nest. Time is going too fast!
But it's so beautiful and such a joyful journey.
Thanks for the reminder not to miss a moment of it!

Aimee said...

My mother-in-law refers to her childrens' growing-up years as the best of her life. It always makes me a little sad because it was so long ago and she's never found that joy again. In her mind, her best years are past. My mom, on the other hand, struggled when I went away to college but did a great job of finding new things in which to invest her time. She and my dad have developed new hobbies and interests. I so appreciate your honesty about your struggles during this time of transition. Praying that you find the path of new adventures and joy!

Sarah_Joy said...

This post hit me on so many levels. Both on who I am as a daughter and as a mom.

We are in the thick of baby days right now. My little guy is 6 months old and appears to have had a strong will since day one. Transitions are a nightmare. Going in the car seat? Cry! Getting out? Cry! Getting picked up? Cry! Getting put down? Cry! You get the idea : )

I love him so much, but sometimes it's hard to treasure each moment. Thanks for the reminder.

I also have to say, I love the approachable way you talk about homeschooling. It's something we decided we wanted to do as we started dreaming about our son's future and I was starting to feel so stressed about it. Your blog has relieved all that and now I'm just looking forward to what each new stage will bring....and hopefully that will include less crying ; )

Unknown said...

Absolutely beautiful and so very true. Happy New Year!

JoVE said...

Beautiful post.

Often people say motherhood is a job for life but I think that's wrong. Done well, as you have done, it is a RELATIONSHIP for life. But it is only a job for about 20 years.

You've done really well. I wish you the best in finding out what your best contribution for this next phase is.

Marcie said...

Thank you so much for the insight here. I know I forget and get caught up in the everything else in day to day life. I hope that I can add the slow down and listen approach in the coming year.

Karen said...

Oh, what a beautiful post. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, and happy new year to you and your family!

Erin J said...

I'm actually glad to hear that they'll fly away someday! Just kidding, well, sort of. I just feel so overwhelmed and they are so demanding at this age. Plus we're waiting on pins and needles to bring #4 home yet at the same time I'm terrified of having 4. I think every expectant mother is terrified. I suppose I'll be terrified of the emptiness when they go, too.

Very thought-provoking post. I want to make these years wonderful and memorable but it's tough when I just feel so frazzled. :)

Jena said...

such great comments!
Erin-- I remember those days. My goal was to stay married and keep my children alive. :) Reducing expectations helped a lot!!

Julie said...

Thank you SO much for this reminder. This is why I read your blog. :)

Rana said...

Thank you for this. I have been hugging and cuddling them a little bit longer, watching them play a little bit longer, giving and getting more mama kisses, talking with them and playing with them. I am savoring every moment. I don't want to let go of this season in my life, but like you said I know this will happen. It's nice to know we have friends and family to share these moments with. Thanks for the reminder Jena!

Amanda said...

Thank you for the reminder, Jena! And Happy New Year! I'm so glad you got that precious rare hour with your big kids!

Anne said...

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing this with those of us who are muddling through looooong days!

Kerry said...

This was definitely a tear-jerker post for me because those days are SO close upon me. Thanks again for the beautiful reminder!!

Unknown said...

Love this. I'm enjoying my girls everyday. As I type my oldest is asking me how to spell words she can easily spell if she thought about it. She won't need me that much longer! I make a point to snuggle every day. And I make them promise to always want to! Ha!

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