Last night I was fretting.
I am a world-champion fretter, you know. If they handed out gold medals for fretting, I'd be all, "Thirteen gold medals? Ha. Eat my dust, Michael Phelps."
In less than five days, Summer Vacation 2009 will be in the books. Over. Vamoose. Part of me is all, "Woo-hoo! Yay! Fiesta! Par-tay! Back to school time!" But then there's that other part of me that's all, "Boo hoo! Where did the days and months go? My babies are growing up so fast!" Of course, that's the part of me that speaks the loudest. And that part of me is also fretting and saying, "Did we do enough? Did we see enough? Did we savor enough?"
But I guess it's never enough, is it?
I was at Bed, Bath and Beyond recently, and a mother was there with her daughter doing some back-to-school shopping for college. I saw the mother lean over to her daughter, squeeze her shoulders and hug her in tightly. She said, "I can't believe we're here shopping for your dorm room!"
And I wanted to cry right there on the spot.
In just a blink, that woman is going to be me. Of course, my oldest is only going into third grade, and my probably overly-dramatic fretting reminds me of that scene from the movie "When Harry Met Sally," and Sally frets (see? I'm not the only one who does this stuff) about getting older.
Sally: I'm going to be forty!
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it's there. It's just sitting there like this big dead end.
Only I'm not fretting about getting older as much as I am fretting about my babies getting older, leaving the nest, and therefore not needing help anymore from yours truly. And like Sally says, "it's there." It may be far away, but it's there.
Parenting is the biggest paradox I can think of. We want our children to grow up, walk, talk, be potty-trained, sleep and eat on their own, read, go to school, gain social and physical skills, finally be completely self-sufficient, and eventually be ready to tackle the big, bad world all on their own. But at the same time, we wish we could hold our children so tightly that they would stay little and stay with us forever.
You think you'll never forget the sound of your sweet little two-year old's voice. After all, you hear it all day long. "Juice, mommy! I want to watch 'Blues Clues'! I wanna play outside! I'm not tired! Why, mommy? Why?" But suddenly that two year-old is eight and then you have no memory of that little voice at all. You can't even begin to conjure it up in your head.
Thank God for home videos.
When I look back at the memories of this way-too-short summer, (all summers are too short) I think of the major events. I think of my sister Bernadette's wedding, and what a joyous, special day it was and how my little Henry, with all his anxieties, mustered up the courage to walk down the long church aisle as the ring bearer. I think of Charlie's All Star Game and how proud we were of him that day. I think of my sister Colette's baby shower in August and what a beautiful celebration it was of an impending new life. I think of our family vacation to the ocean for the first time with the kids.
It's so easy to think of the big moments because that's what matters, right?
But when I delve a little deeper, I think of our afternoon trips to the pool, coloring with chalk on the driveway, spraying the kids with the hose while washing the car, taking a walk through the neighborhood on a gorgeous summer evening, playing a game of family baseball, watching fireworks blast into a colorful explosion in the dark night sky, eating drippy ice cream cones until our tummies ached, hiding out under the covers with the kids during a loud, summer evening thunderstorm, and watching little boys play a baseball game on a Saturday afternoon.
The little moments matter too. They matter a whole lot.
I don't live in the past. I like the present. It's a great place to be. And I don't live in the future either, but I do wonder what it will bring, and I fervently hope that it's all good. Even if it's not, I pray that I can handle whatever comes my way.
I have to remind myself to savor the present, and savor these moments. I tell myself that even the crappy, frustrating, monotonous days are a gift. Even when I'm yelling at the kids to slow down and stay in the same aisle as me at Target. Even when I've had it up to here. Even when I don't think I can fold another shirt, or load the dishwasher one more time. Even when Bill and I are snapping at each other because we're tired and overwhelmed and we need a moment alone to reconnect with each other. Even when I am breaking up yet another fight between the boys.
I thought about cramming even more activities into this last week of summer. We had all these grand plans back in June, but now here it is, August. Should we plan one more trip to the zoo? One more trip to the science center? Should we check out the conservatory gardens? But why? If I do these big things will it somehow make it that much more of a memorable summer? Will it be that much better?
I guess not. It was pretty perfect in its own little way. Maybe no one would envy our summer because we didn't take that family trip to somewhere exotic, like Europe. But I realize for us, that it's all about the little moments.
And the little moments are enough.