How commonly, and understandably, we lament for “one more day” when we’ve lost someone we love. I’ve often longed for such a day with my Granny, or with my sister who we lost too young. In the last year, I’ve longed most for that day with my Dad. If impossible wishes were granted, this would be mine: one more ordinary day when my three young children were home.
My mom said it once, I remember, “The happiest days of my life were when I had five little ones at home.” All is right in the world, in spite of the chaos of the nest, when mother hen has the chicks all gathered in. Mom was communicating something profound that at the time I interpreted as just a statement. Beneath her words, I now understand, was a feeling beyond sentiment; it was a nostalgic grief that is something not completely unlike losing a loved one.
What Our Ordinary Day Would Look Like
One ordinary day. Not a Disneyworld day, not a cruise day, not any vacation. Not a family reunion, not a birthday, and not Christmas. I would choose a summer day, one when we had not a thing to do and all day long to do it.
One ordinary day of my bare-footed babies sleepily ambling out of their bedrooms, hair tousled. Morning hugs in soft pajamas. An ordinary day of breakfast cereal, morning chores, brushing our teeth. A day with errands in the minivan, all of us singing along to Abba, the Pet Shop Boys, or “Scripture Scouts” as we head to the bank or the post office and the library.
One of those days we’d come home with armloads and armloads of library books and pull out all the blankets and pillows for our “read-in.” We would have our favorites: Rain Makes Applesauce, Go Dog Go, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Cuddling together under a quilt, a pile of elbows, knees, duck-fine toddler hair, baby-soft skin, pillows, and tiny toes, and aha moments that only come from children’s books.
We would lunch on cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. Or I’d pull out all the leftovers and play “Lunch at Ole Café!” as I presented the daily menu in a terrible French accent and with silly flair delivered their orders. Maybe we’d make peanut butter playdough or pull out the puzzles or coloring books. As goes in an ordinary day, there would be laundry-switching, washing sticky faces and sticky counters.
I Long to Revisit My Kids at Two, Six and Nine
If I could choose one specific day, it might be when my three were nine, six, and two. We were living in a two-bedroom apartment in rural Maryland, awaiting the building of our home. Our only plan that day was to go to the pool. Giggling and anticipation as we put on our suits, gathered our goggles, pool toys, and bright beach towels.
We scrambled out onto our patio and were stopped short by ominous charcoal clouds. Within seconds the rain began, first in scattered, giant-marble-sized splats, then in true southern character, sheets of rain that just might last for days.
We stood silently for three, two, one seconds until little Ben darted out onto the vast lawn, arms outstretched with swimming wings, Hawaiian print swim shorts, dancing like this was a perfect miracle that we were all dressed for a rainstorm. His big brother and sister were right behind, running barefoot, hair drenched and plastered to little foreheads, arms out in a laughter-filled rain dance in heaven’s spontaneous splash park.
I don’t remember what came next, but if we were to relive that ordinary day, we would have a long, leisurely bath time, then “Mommy Spa” when I would pull out my box of special creams and body butters for each to choose a potion. Oh, to snuggle and rub them in their towels, lotion their little legs and arms and backs, to gently comb the tangles from their hair.
Next we might snuggle in for hot chocolate and a Disney movie—Hercules, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, or The Prince of Egypt. An hour or two of laughter, song, and at times a reverent pause as we witness redemption, overcoming hard things, love for our fellow man.
Our day, of course, would have squabbles, and whining, and scraped knees. Wonderful! Blessings, every one, for chances to hold my little ones to my chest and comfort them through tiredness or pain. For chances to talk about unrealized expectations, broken promises, or disappointment.
Thinking back, yes, I did have some appreciation for our simple days together. But in my imperfection, impatience and youthful oblivion, I don’t believe I knew then what I know now: every imperfect day, when we’re together, is a perfect day.
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Kimberly Allen, M. Ed., is a long-time educator and instructional coach. She was honored as Idaho Mentor of the Year and feels blessed to spend her days teaching and learning with a most conscientious and caring crew of high school teachers. She’s a proud mom of recently grown children, anticipating more time to explore writing, both others’ and her own.