Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

We are in the season for young child rearing, right now. We aren't going to miss the little or the big things because it is in the every day and each moment we make available that counts.


"For twenty-five years I have looked forward to uninterrupted nights, a house that stays neat longer than five minutes after I clean it, and a noise level below one decibel. As much as I loved my four children and teaching them... these were the things I longed for... Now, years later, the very things that were so important are mine in abundance. However, the empty nights seem uninteresting, the house has no reason to be clean, as it sits empty all day, and the quiet is agonizingly loud. My foolish dreams of yesterday have come true, and I chastise myself for trading productive moments with my family for grumbling and complaining." (Janet Tatman, Daily Focus)


This segment really grabs a hold of me. Each time I read it, I feel something in me come to a full stop. It is as if everything around me becomes quiet. What I experience is a process.

First, I step outside of myself and watch my immediate "struggle" with... whatever I feel I "need to" address at the moment, and, just allow myself to stop.

I want to just step away from whatever is distracting me from my time with my children. I start to reframe my idea of "how to get things done" and try to find ways we can creatively do such and such together. Dishes, baking, cleaning, science experiments, drawing, reading, sitting, walking, going for a bike ride, meeting up with friends.

I am encouraged daily to think outside of the box of "stuff I need to do" vs. "their stuff" and so diminish that separation of "me" vs. "them." We are in this together. It's everywhere. My shows. Their shows. My meals. Their meals. My activities. Their activities.

What if we blended some of these things together in a more "our" such-and-such kind of way? What is all this separation for? Whose independence? Theirs? Or mine?

I am 39 years old. I have had more than my share of independence. I am a mother now. I didn't sign up to separate from them as soon as possible. I have had a lifetime of "me" and that time will return. Erich and I had a long run of "just us." This is the season for raising our young family. The "me" and the "just us" period hasn't ended but it certainly isn't in equal parts as "time with the kids."

I don't need to be alone as much as I used to. A pedicure here and there... a girls' night out once in a while. Erich and I don't need to hit the clubs, take long walks in the city and pull 'all night partying up' as much as we used to when we were young and carefree.  

I feel so grateful that I have never really felt the need to say, "Wow! Where did our time together go?" I have always known this time is finite. I know because I grew up wanting more time from my beautiful, hard working, loving parents. They worked so hard for us. They sacrificed oceans of separation, many holidays apart... to do what they did so well... provide for us. They made sure we had the essentials — food, shelter and love.

As work took them away from us physically, I spent many years of my life waiting for "my turn" with them. I patiently believed, year after year, after they do what they need to do to provide for us, earnestly, "our time will come."

But, instead, it passed.

We never got to make up the time we lost and we never will. We do what we can to be together now but I know this time is not ours anymore. It is mine and my husband's and my children's time. In turn, it is my parents' time with their grandchildren. I know I love and adore them and they love and adore me but our time together in the way of childhood every day togetherness has ended. As much as they wanted to be there for us, life did not deal them an easy hand, when they decided to raise us in a country foreign to them.

They could have chosen an easier road. "Forget these kids, transplanting ourselves and giving them an American education. We live a nice cushy life here in the Philippines, at the top of our game, servants to do everything for us and friends to meet at this or that club. They will manage just fine with all these other luxuries."

But they didn't make that choice. They chose us over them. They discarded their privileged world to struggle instead in a foreign one where they had to start from the ground up. Their former high ranking career positions and social status were all but nullified here, but they pressed on. They could not give me the day-to-day I personally needed at certain points in my life, though it was not for a lack of trying on their part.

Like me now, they had to do then what they could to adjust, juggle, manage and help us live out our best lives, while reconstructing their own. I can't imagine any of it was easy.

So this profound appreciation of time with my children, this is their gift to me. I am not going to throw it away. I am exhausted but mostly re-energized knowing... yes... twenty-five years from now, this house is going to be quiet and Erich and I will drop pins so we can hear some noise.

We are in the season for young child rearing, right now. We aren't going to miss the little or the big things because it is in the every day and each moment we make available that counts. And, we are here, together. Now.

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Concerned Parent July 10, 2012 at 03:04 PM
If I can provide some advice. No parent is perfect. We are not given the opportunity to study and practice at it. But that naivety is actually a blessing to the wonderful surprises and memorable experiences you will have with your children. I keep remembering what my parents use to say on how time flies. I laughed it off when I first heard it, but their words could not be more true. For me, my kids are not adults yet, but they've reached an age where those things that I once took for granted have become lost. Remembering those days when your boy or girl would jump in your arms when you came home or when they would give you a long wave goodbye when getting on the school bus in the morning. It's those little things that will touch us the most, despite not realizing it at that time. We have no control over time, but can only do our best. As long as you are there for your children, they will always love you for it.
Tom Bittman July 10, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Michelle, thanks for this. My wife and I are in the process of seeing our little birds fly. Our first is graduating college. Our middle is nearly off to college. We still have time with our twelve-year-old. And we are cherishing every moment, because we can see it changing, far too fast. I made career decisions that kept me closer to my kids, and allowed us to maintain a stable home - and I regret none of those decisions. An empty nest is coming far too fast. I know that we'll take advantage of our future "couple" time, I'm pretty sure our young birds cherish their childhoods enough to bring their families to us, and I can't wait to fly myself to see them - but the time that we have with our kids at home is so precious and fleeting that I'm happy we invested it wisely. One suggestion - I make DVDs for my kids for their 16th birthdays. The DVD is an hour-long celebration of their life, one year at a time, with the best video clips and stills, with music during the stills that was important to them at the time. I know these will be hugely valuable to my kids as they start having kids of their own. I did these DVDs for them, but, to my surprise, my wife and I are finding them greatly valuable to us. You can't watch these DVDs without feeling the joy of those 16 years together, our joint history, and crying a happy cry. I have one more DVD to create - in four years. Four more years to fill my youngest one's life - and ours - with lifetime memories. And then on to a new chapter.
Jaimie Cura July 10, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Ed and Tom, thanks for commenting - I enjoyed reading your responses and advice. It's true - no one is perfect and that's one of the things that we, as adults, have to learn about people and sometimes, when you're not open to that knowledge, relationships as adults become strained. It's so important to remember that behind every mother and father is a wife, husband, sister, brother, daughter, son, friend. Tom, I love your DVD gift - what a cool idea!


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