I Miss It All, the Shows, the Kids, the Noise, Even the Glitter

I remember a December afternoon many years ago when I picked my two daughters up from elementary school. The younger one jumped in the backseat of the car carrying an art project. I think it was of a snowman or some kind of winter scene. Although I can’t remember the specific composition of the picture, I do remember the glitter. It was a silver mixed with assorted colors and my then five-year-old daughter did not use it sparingly.

“Mommy, Mommy – look at the picture I made in Mrs. Reilly’s class! Do you like it?’ she asked.

young child finger painting
I miss the mess of my kids when they were little.

Here’s What I Miss About My Kids Being Little

I looked back at her smiling face and smiled back. “I love it!” I said, “It’s so pretty and what great colors you chose to use!”

My daughter admired her own work and then said, “Mrs. Reilly let us use paint and glitter. I used a lot of glitter because I wanted the snow to sparkle just like real snow does. You can never have too much glitter, right Mommy?”

I nodded in agreement. My daughter wasn’t kidding about the glitter. It was everywhere! All over the 16 x 20 piece of construction paper and after our short trip home, all over the back floor of my car as well. It was also all over the kitchen floor for the whole month of December.

I had taped the picture to our refrigerator where we displayed all original art in our home. Every time we opened the refrigerator door, glitter trickled every so slowly onto the ground. Long after the snow melted that winter and even after several trips to the carwash, there were still little flecks of glitter glistening in the car carpeting.

Oh, how I hated the glitter! It was hard to get rid of and I wished the teacher didn’t let the kids use so much.

Now, I miss glitter.

I miss glitter and so many other holiday traditions that you only get to experience when you have little kids. I miss holiday shows when the kids would dress like Gingerbread men and women and sing songs like The Reindeer Twist and Jingle Bell Rock. I even miss recorder concerts where the kids played five different melodies that all sounded exactly the same.

I wish I had appreciated those magical musical moments more. That time of year was especially hectic when the kids were little and I sometimes felt overwhelmed trying to get everything done. It felt like the holiday shows always fell on the worst days. Sometimes I wanted to run out after my kids’ number, but I knew I had to stay for the whole show and so I did. But I didn’t watch as closely once my kids left the stage. Now I wish I had been more patient. I should have been more appreciative of the chance to sit and enjoy all of these enthusiastic young performers.

I did thoroughly enjoy watching my kids sing and dance. This was before things became so “embarrassing” and the self-consciousness of adolescence crept into their lives. Back then their loud and off-key voices were filled with confidence and enthusiastic abandon. They would dance, shaking their hips and doing hand movements, entirely without fear. It was adorable and just thinking about it now makes me smile.

I’m not sure why, but I always seemed to sit behind someone who felt the need to record the whole concert on her iPad. I can remember being annoyed as I craned my head in desperation to see my kid’s face because it was blocked by her screen.

I wish now that I had told the woman with the iPad to put it down. Not because it was rude (which it was) but because she didn’t need to record the concert; she needed to watch and listen to it in real time. We both did. Maybe she thought that by capturing it on film, she would be able to hold on to those moments when the kids were small. But it isn’t really possible and the very best way to remember it is to experience it as it happens, without distractions.

I miss class holiday parties and bake sales. Those also seemed to come on inopportune days in December when there didn’t seem to be enough hours to get everything done. But now that I have kids in college and high school, I miss the chance to go into their classroom for a rousing game of pin the nose on the snowman.

I miss making 48 cupcakes right before bedtime because that’s when the kids reminded me there was a bake sale the next day. I remember the kids insisting that I load up on the sprinkles and the frosting and
then individually wrap each cupcake in cellophane with a bow, so it looked more inviting than any other baked item on the sale table.

I miss when my kids walked in from the school bus on a cold winter day, their cheeks bright red from the windchill to find that I had hot chocolate made from Swiss Miss packets waiting on the counter. I miss them saying, “Mom, you’re the best” when I said it was okay to fill the cup to the brim with mini marshmallows and whipped cream.

I miss snow football games. This was a tradition from the time my son was in kindergarten. On the first snow day, my son would invite all the boys in the neighborhood to our yard to play and my husband would take the day off to act as the referee. After the game, a dozen boys would pile into our house, dropping their mittens, hats, jackets and boots, on their march toward the basement to play video games together.

The trail of clothes, the melting snow and salt, the cookie crumbs all over the house – it was such a mess! And I miss the mess! I miss the chaos and the laughter that went along with it. Now the boys are in high school and have too much homework to play football in the snow.

I miss when the holiday season meant I could buy small gifts like puzzles and board books and hear, “Oh Mommy, I love it!” I miss buying my kids Polly Pockets and Matchbox cars. Presents like these meant I would need to get on the floor with my kids so that we could all play together. I got to hear the stories they made up and how their imaginations worked.

I wish I’d appreciated those hours more instead of feeling like I needed to get dinner on the table or throw in a load of laundry. Now for the holidays, the kids ask for big things like airpods. Yes, they say thank you, but they don’t squeal with delight anymore. And once they open the gift, they don’t really need me. They put them in their ears and head upstairs.

As my kids have gotten older, the holiday season and how we celebrate it has changed. There are no more concerts or bake sales or class parties. There are new traditions that I look forward to, like the kids coming home from college, going to the city together and family game nights. And we still bake cookies and sometimes we even have hot chocolate. But it isn’t the same and I can’t help but feel nostalgic.

When my kids were little, the winter season glistened a little bit more for me. I guess they were the glitter. I wish I had realized then that my daughter was right; you can never have too much glitter.

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Randi MazelliRandi Mazzella is a freelance writer and blogger. Her work has appeared in many print and online publications including Grown and Flown, New Jersey Family, Scary Mommy, Parent.co and The Spruce. Follow her on Twitter @rmazz90210.

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