I am one of those super sentimental nostalgic moms. I tear up when I am separated from my children for an overnight. True story. My throat thickens with a lump when I watch them do something that I know they were born to do. When talk of college or one day moving out occurs among our kids, I immediately start ugly crying, just ask them as now it has become a running family joke, and they giggle about it. The truth is that I love, love, love this phase of life, and I want it to last a bit longer. I love motherhood. I love watching Jim being a dad. I love family life. I love us being all together as our little family of six. I do anything that I can to foster a lot of together-ness, and actually living in Ethiopia makes this a bit easier. Our family is not pulled in quite so many directions as we were when we lived in the states. The other day while reflecting on all of this, I realized that the best is yet to be phrase that we always talk about is actually what I am right now living. These family years, these have been what I have been waiting for, these are my very best. I am living smack-dab in the middle of the best, and I don’t want to miss a thing. I don’t want to be too busy or too tired or too stretched to miss a moment of this best.
But in the same thought, I was sucker-punched with the fact, that while we are carving out lifetimes memories and traditions, and are shaping the futures of these kids, this is most likely not their best, and that their ‘best is yet to be’ is still coming for them. In understanding that I also have to acknowledge the reality that I will not be in the daily part of their best, and that is really, really hard for me. These are my babies. This is all going so fast, and I love my four kids so stinkin’ much, and they are one day soon going to have their best days outside the walls of our family home. How do we only have three more years of our family of six being in tact before our oldest graduates high school and our family dynamic wildly shifts from the us that we have come to love? How is that even in sight already? It just hit me out of nowhere, and I was not prepared for the burning stab of truth. How did we get here? As these unsolicited thoughts spilled out of me, so did the tears. I am a deep feeler. So thoughts like this can be spiral me down into such deep sadness, which I am sure is foreign to some people, but it is my reality. This is not healthy and can be emotionally dangerous for me and put unfair expectations on my kids. Being under the same roof as my babies is a once-in-a-lifetime privilege, one that I want to steward well, and let go of well when it is time.
The truth is these days are numbered, and my children are all growing up, and that is a gift that some parents only wish could be their reality. Growing up and shedding childhood is a privilege that is not afforded to all. I need to understand this, even on the days when I feel like my best years are flying by and every day I am living something precious that I can never again get back.
When we bring children into our lives, I guess the truth is that we will encounter the greatest joy imaginable and tangled with it, the greatest heartache. It is life, in order to truly experience joy, we have to experience the flip-side of the coin. I am one of those moms who still picks up my almost eight year old boy every morning to give him his hug and worry will this be the last day that I am able to pick him up? I am conscious of moments. Maybe without the ticking of the clock, the passing of days, these moments would not be so precious. Maybe that is the juxtaposition of family life – of my best is yet to be, in the holding on, in the living of these family moments, is learning how to really be ready to let them go and live their own best is yet to be.