Sometimes I miss getting completely absorbed in a good book. The rush of turning the next page, beginning the next chapter… The anticipation (and bittersweet-sadness of) reading the final page. The complete selfishness of it all–closing out the entire world and entering another, alone.
Sometimes I miss college, when my mind was alive in a new kind of way. These were the years when I started becoming an adult, stepping out of any middle/highschool stereotypical ideas of myself. I began to form opinions, to find connections between the past and the present. This was the time when the arts became a new kind of mirror for me, and I began to know myself in a new way. I miss the voracious search for knowing and learning and understanding the world and my place in it.
Sometimes I miss falling in love. When everything beautiful in the world was awake. Where everything else went in slow motion—all other people, places, experiences—they all slowed to a barely audible pulse. But the heart was more awake than ever, and every beat was part of a song unlike any I had heard before. I didn’t know that kind of music could exist in this world.
Sometimes (well, most of the time…) I miss sleeping like a log. All night long, every night. What a luxury that I took for granted. There are entire people-groups (called mothers/possibly fathers) that have not slept like that for 20+ years. And may never again, I hear.
I sometimes miss the selfish life that I used to have. The kind of life where you set a schedule and pretty much stick to it. The life when you weren’t responsible for getting so many people dressed/fed/cleaned/educated in a timely/cheerful/healthy/meaningful way. The lifestyle of coffee drinkers in cafes, of ambitious thinkers and dreamers. I miss feeling like I could do anything I wanted to do if I just put my mind to it.
Lately, I have been feeling old. I know I am not. I’m only 30. But for the first time in my life, I feel a detachment from people who are in the era of life that I have just passed through. I can’t imagine ever living a life like that again. When I look back on myself, I am almost embarrassed at the zest for life that I once had. And yet, I miss it.
These are the things I have been thinking about this week. All five of us have been sick, which means it has been a week of sleepless nights, ER/doctor visits, medicine routines, caring for others when you just want to go to sleep yourself… I was feeling discouraged, feeling like I have lost so much of what was once important to me in my life. We got some new speakers, and Randy played me one of my songs that he recorded two summers ago.
There will be a time for tea and coffee
There will be a time for quiet cafés
There will be a time for reading and writing
And dreaming the day away
But now is the time of pitter patter
Now is the time of what’s the matter
Let me kiss you, make it better
Now is the time of sweet, soft kisses
Now is the time every mother misses over coffee in a quiet café.
When I heard this song (and the laughter of my girls at the end of it), it really ministered to me. I wrote it, but I had forgotten the message. There is nothing sweeter in this world than little children. I have three beautiful, healthy children. They have the most amazing smiles. They say the most hilarious things. Sharing them with my husband has been the highlight of my life. The love that they have for me is so trusting, so full of faith. It is a constant reminder to me of the way I want to trust God. I do not want my heart to grow hard and cold, but I want to remain full of life and love, quick to forgive, resilient in every way, full of wonder for the beauty in the world—like a little child. Hearing this song was a gentle reminder to me that these really are the best years of my life so far. They are formative, again making me into the person I am becoming. I am not who I once was. These children have changed me forever, and I would not trade this season for any other of my life so far. Yes, it is exhausting. Yes, it is one need after the other, all day long. Yes, it is putting things on hold—good books, creative ideas, the appetite for pursuing any interest that presents itself. It is waiting on some dreams, and the pure joy of trying to make the simple dreams of little children come true.
Love has also changed. It is no longer the only thing that is not in slow motion. On the contrary, it is the thing that is slow and steady in the chaos of meals/diapers/snacks/laundry/dishes/potty-training/bedtime routines/schedules/naptimes/finding clothes/finding shoes/getting ready/getting dressed/arriving on time—all of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. At the end of the day, love is less often an all-consuming fire and more often a best friend who will, sitting close on the couch, watch a (time travel) movie with you. I love the safety and security I feel in this steady love. With every day that passes, I love my husband more.
It used to be about the two of us. Now it is has become about our whole family. And this is a really sweet twist on love. I truly love my husband more now that I know him as a husband and a father than I ever did when he we were slightly star-crossed and in the throes of romance. The love I have for him now is still fueled by that romance. That + watching him tenderly holding our girls and reading them a bedtime story + his laughter at our son’s first laugh/step/dance + his help with the laundry of a family of 5 + his prayers for us = the most beautiful love we have experienced yet. I sometimes miss falling in love, but I would not trade this for that. Ever. And I am pretty sure that we would be pretty terrible parents if we remained in the oblivious state of “selfish” love that we enjoyed for several years before our children were born. Love grows. It is such a mystery how each child that is born can bring out new depths of love in us. And how that love exponentially grows in a family.
And who knows, I may sleep through the night again before this is all over… There will be a time for this, too. My children will be grown so fast, and they will no longer need me through the night. So for now, I will try to be thankful for the nights that I have small children. And I will be thankful for their little embraces, and that I can ease their troubles by holding them close.
At least weekly, someone tells me this: “Enjoy your kids while they’re young, because they grow up so fast.” Though I don’t have much time for reading books, I feel that I am living out a parallel experience—word by word, page by page, experience after experience, the plot is falling into place. It is easy to overlook the details to get to the more exciting moments. And at the end of every season of parenting so far, there is the bittersweet ending of a story.
Early to bed, early to rise.
Lay down your head, and close your eyes.
Life is a dream that soon passes by
You will be grown in the blink of an eye
So please, let me kiss you one more time.