There was a period in my life when all my kids were little, and it felt like every one of them needed my attention all the time.
I loved having babies and toddlers. Holding a small child in my arms–a child who happily curled up against me, hands reaching around my neck–gave me the kind of pleasure that I don’t think anything else ever could or will.
But, even so, there were tons of times when I was just too tired, frustrated, or overwhelmed to enjoy being grabbed at, when I pushed little sticky hands away with a “Not now. I can’t.”
I was thinking about those times the other morning, lying in bed, going over the next couple of weeks in my mind.
See, a little later in August, we’re going back east to drop our two oldest kids off at college. When we come home, we’ll be a family of four, not a family of six, at least until Thanksgiving.
I want my kids to be independent, to grow and thrive and move beyond needing their parents. I’m glad they’re going to college. I’m glad they’re looking forward to the year ahead.
I’m just so sad for myself. Because not having them in the house–that’s a loss, plain and simple. Not getting to see them every day–that’s a loss. Hearing someone at the door and realizing it can’t be either of them–that’s a loss.
And when I think about that, I think about the times I pushed those little grabby sticky hands away and said, “Not now. Mommy’s busy,” and I want to go back in time and whisper in my own ear, “Pick that kid up. Hold him tight. Don’t push him away. Appreciate every single time those hands go reaching out for you. Because one day–and it’s going to feel awfully soon–they’ll stop.”
I’m the one who wants to grab on now, and I’m the one who has to be pushed away.