For the past 25 years, I have found myself constantly amazed by the many lessons taught to me so effortlessly by my children.
When they were babies, I learned the lessons of patience and peace; rock, and hum and breathe deeply to help a baby to sleep. When they were toddlers, I learned the lesson of flexibility; spend an hour getting everyone into snowsuits, boots, hats, scarves and gloves, drive to the golf course, pull out the sled, and hear the words, “I have to go to the bathroom.”
In their teen years, I learned to hold my tongue, to listen more than I talked and to accept what was not mine to change. I learned that fashion was not under my control, nor were friendship choices or food choices, or sleep habits. Political opinions, religious views, social observations were all private and personal for my children, and therefore not mine to shape or to judge.
And now they are adults. They live their own separate and unique lives. They are no longer mine to have and hold. And yet the lessons continue.
On Thanksgiving, I planned and hoped and created a mental image of what I wanted from the holiday. I pictured the moment when Tim would come home from college and step right back into his bedroom and his old life. I imagined, in perfect detail, the breakfast with him at home, Katie living here with us, and Matt coming by for a visit. The holiday feast itself would be filled with the voices and laughter of my three babies, around my table, enjoying the offering of my food. But nothing turned out the way I expected, and Thanksgiving left Paul and I feeling hurt, and sad and somehow betrayed. We have spent the past four weeks trying to guard ourselves from that hurt as Christmas approached.
And now that holiday has come. The most precious of all gatherings, the day most fraught with expectation and poignant hope. And here is my latest mommy lesson.
Today was the last day of school before the big vacation. Kate suggested, somewhat in jest, that her brothers come to school to visit us today. I offered to take them all out to lunch after the school day ended at 1 o’clock. To my surprise and pleasure, they accepted the offer.
I spent the morning enjoying “Snuggie Day” with my wonderful fifth graders, waiting for my boys to arrive. When they came in, full of smiles, they both looked handsome and strong, and amazingly adult in a room full of ten year olds. They watched and laughed and joined in as the kids had a Yankee Swap of old items which included a hat that had once been Matt’s. When the day was over, we called Paul, who was able to get away from work to come and join us. Off we went to a great Chinese restaurant near school. The five of us sat at a big round table, eating huge amounts of food and talking with ease. The food was delicious, the jokes were both familiar and new, the banter back and forth was effortless and easy. The warmth and love between all of us was as real and as tangible as it ever was. And the lesson was learned.
I am learning to seize and treasure moments of joy and togetherness as they present themselves. To celebrate the normal, the everyday, the small surprises. I am learning that happiness will find me, if I let it come and recognize it even when I am least expecting it.