Last night, I was up late wrapping gifts. I’m a horrible gift wrapper, truth be told. My gifts always look like they were wrapped by a 4-year-old who just learned how to use tape and scissors.
When I was a younger mom, I envied the mothers who brought presents with beautiful bows and curled ribbons to birthday parties, and was always a little embarrassed to place my gift on a table next to theirs. Middle-aged me isn’t quite so worried…I’m just glad if I actually REMEMBERED to bring the gift.
I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic lately
Anyway, it had been a rough day yesterday, and the house was finally quiet. I was feeling a little down, if I’m being honest, and a lot nostalgic. I think 2020 sort of does that to a person. As I sat there wrapping earbuds, gift cards and other things that teens desire, I felt a sharp pang of longing for years past. The gifts in front of me seemed so “small.” Not “inexpensive” small, – just actually, physically small.
I miss the Christmases of Barbies and Legos. I miss the days where just $19.99 at Toys-R-Us could elicit a squeal and a smile a mile wide on Christmas morning. The days where my husband and I would stay up late Christmas Eve, cursing the makers of the bikes, or the play kitchen or swing set we were struggling to put together.
I miss standing at the bottom of the stairs with the video camera, waiting to record their little faces as they came rushing down the stairs to see what Santa had delivered. The wonder in their eyes when they discovered he had eaten their cookies and drank their milk.
I miss how proud they were to present us with ornaments made from popsicle sticks, or the painted handprints they pressed on paper with the help of a caring teacher. I miss the years where there were no cell phones or social media to distract us from these moments. To distract us from each other.
I’ve learned to appreciate this season of life
But as I sat there wallowing in the past, I remembered something else. Yes, I do miss those days, it’s true. But if 21 years of being a mom has taught me anything, it’s that I’d better appreciate the season of life we are in. Because the seasons are fleeting, whether your children are 17 months or 17 years.
So I think about how my oldest kept Santa alive for her much-younger sister far longer than I ever could have alone. I think about how my middle child saved me every single time I forgot to move that stupid Elf for my youngest, until he finally took over the whole operation himself.
I think about the grown-up conversations we now have huddled around the kitchen island, my college kids sharing thoughtful, intelligent insights on everything from politics to music. I think about how much I not only love my kids, but how much I really LIKE them. They are good people. People I am proud to know. People I am proud to have raised.
I am grateful for so much
I think about how grateful I am, that in this moment, these no-longer-little kids are all home and under one roof. Grateful that I still get to see their faces on Christmas morning. Knowing that someday, when this season too has passed, they will wake up in their own homes, and watch their own children come running down the stairs.
And when that happens, I guess it will once again be the Christmases of Barbies and Legos. I can’t wait.
So for all of you moms out there missing the days of littles, I feel you, truly I do. But don’t forget to savor the moments with the people those littles have turned into…because they are pretty awesome too.
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