Catching Fireflies

IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER…

I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the “good” living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather rambling about his youth.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television, and more while watching life.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment, realizing that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”
There would have been more “I love you’s” and more “I’m sorry’s”
. . . but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute . . look at it and really see it . . . and never give it back.”

–Erma Bombeck  

 

I’ve shot tons of video of my kids, but I’ve always known I wouldn’t watch them.  Because theoretically, the people on the screen no longer exist, and that makes me really sad.

Earlier tonight, my 15 1/2 year old played an old video of himself and his sister as little towheads, catching lightning bugs with their cousins at their grandparents’ house.

God, they were beautiful.

Their excitement was so genuine it brought tears to my eyes. They were completely immersed in the moment.

I listened to the younger version of myself talking to them, giggling when they squealed, and laughing as they screamed with delight when Mom caught a firefly, too.

As I watched, I found myself wondering if, on that beautiful Midwest summer night, I had appreciated the magic I witnessed. Did I realize how lucky I was to be able to pick up those beautiful babies, kiss those sweet cheeks and swing them around until they begged me to stop?

I cherish my children at every age, but I deeply miss when they were small. I’ve always known how fast they would grow, and made the effort to BE PRESENT at every moment. I’m grateful that I did, because the only emotion I hate more than nostalgia is regret.

I move through the sadness by discovering what I love outside of motherhood, what I’m passionate about, and what I want to accomplish in the second half of my life. I’m also grateful to bear witness to the emergence of two talented, compassionate, amazing young adults. There is Life After Mommy.

Tomorrow, perhaps I’ll write about how often my now-teenage children have me reaching for my gi-normous bottle of Advil.

But tonight, I think I’ll cry and catch fireflies. 


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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Honey on March 28, 2011 at 1:04 am

    huge hug.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Honey on March 28, 2011 at 1:07 am

    you’re something else. beautiful, moving blog == always with love support and prayers. shar

    Reply

  3. Aw, thanks Honey! Love you.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Mindy on April 2, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Oh, my. How very, very lovely – and boy, did it hit home for me this spring morning! My babies will be 13 and 16 in the next couple of months, so I am right where you are. My oldest just got the call last night that she was accepted into a student exchange program, through which she will spend her junior year abroad. I am so very proud of her – and utterly terrified at losing my baby, who is really a lovely young woman on the cusp of growing up.

    Thank you for this incredibly touching piece of writing – it’s nice to know I’m not alone in missing them.

    Reply

  5. Thank you, Mindy! I truly appreciate your heartfelt comments. Our children are SO precious at all ages, but there seems to be a uniquely melancholy feel to nostalgia related to our kids growing up, doesn’t there?

    And, congratulations to your 16-year-old on her acceptance as an exchange student! I’ve known other kids who participated in exchange programs and loved it. I’m sure she’ll have an exciting and memorable experience (though it stirs up the maternal emotions in us Moms, huh!?!)

    Happy Spring!

    Reply

  6. I like that… Life on the L.A.M. (life after mommy)
    Love those cute boys your babies are sitting with 🙂

    Reply

  7. Posted by Peggy on September 5, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Lovely, Kim. I’ve been feeling a lot of that nostalgia myself lately…I miss my daughter. I miss her as she was when she was a little girl. I miss her the way she loved me ” so big” back then when she was tiny and I was a big part of her world. I miss her.

    Reply

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