When I was in my 20s I thought I understood the saying, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I vowed to enjoy my life, try new things, experience different cultures and eat new foods. And I did. But it’s only in the past few years that I understand more fully what that expression means.
Similarly, I remember being pregnant 10 years ago while working at the Sawdust. Many of the exhibitors were a generation or so older than I and would come to the office and chat about babies and mothering, two topics that were completely foreign to me. “Enjoy this special time. It goes so fast.” Of course, but how? Everything was changing. And once the baby arrived, who had time to enjoy when there was so much to be done?
The parenting best advice I received came unexpectedly. I was on the phone with my then-88-year-old grandmother. I was wondering out loud about when my daughter Isabel was going to grow some hair. She was almost 2 then and had barely an inch of fine, downy hair on her head. And my grandmother replied, “Rebecca, no bride ever walked down the aisle bald.” I don’t know if this is an expression from the old country (Brooklyn) or simply the wisdom of nearly nine decades. But her notion that time takes care of things has stayed with me.
Be involved. Worry even. Make smart, informed decisions. But you can’t control everything so let go a bit. Time wins.
In the darkness of early mornings in late December, I cherish the joys of being a mom. The simple everyday experiences that bind you closer with the baby you once held. The hugs. The smiles. The, “Watch me, mom!”s. And the fact that once they are born, we must start letting them go. It is impossible to keep them wrapped in their mother’s arms forever.
This Christmas break has been a fortifying respite from the hectic schedule of the school year. We are spending time together – not traveling, not doing amazing things, but simply chilling around town. No alarms. No hurry up to get to a sports practice and a birthday party and dance class. Two weeks of reveling in my girls.
So we went to Moulton Meadows Park yesterday. It had been a year since we’d been. We brought along some new Christmas presents that needed to be tried on a large grassy area. The sun was warm and we were barefoot in the grass, running across the field.
While day trips, weekends away and evenings at the theater are fun, I haven’t lost sight of the pure pleasure of enjoying an afternoon at the park. No friends. No cell phone. No handheld devices. Just my two girls running, laughing, playing and bickering (hey, this is real life) and occasionally shouting, “Mom, watch me.”
It goes quicky. Stop and enjoy it. We only have them at home for 18 years or so. Go to the park and play.
My Top Five Excursions in 2011: 5: Being a backstage mom at the Pageant of the Masters – it was a long summer, but worth it, 4: Heritage Hill Park (Holiday Fair) in Lake Forest, 3: Christmas lights in Nellie Gail, 2: Aquarium of The Pacific and 1: Any day at the beach in town.
Happy New Year. May 2012 be a year of fresh beginnings and dreams fulfilled.
Rebecca Meekma is that friend who always knows something fun to do, and the Calendar Editor at Parenting OC magazine. Reach her at email@example.com.