Throughout my life, I have always heard the adage that life should be cherished not rushed; explored not hastily sprinted from point A to point B; and savored not swallowed whole.
But never did I understand this more until I was given the opportunity to have children of my own. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to have children, along with the loving husband and the great career. While I’m still working on the last component, I’m pretty lucky to have the first two.
Early in my life, I was told by my parents that I was adopted through Catholic Charities. Both my ‘adoptive’ parents were older but still wanted children so they adopted my brother and then six years later adopted me. My father was Hawaiian, born and raised. My mother, is south St. Louis, born and raised. And when I found out I was adopted, it wasn’t that nice family heartfelt sit-down conversation, well it didn’t start off that way anyway.
You know when you’re kids and you fight with your siblings. Well, that particular day, my brother decided to say something I thought was horrible, “Well, Jenny, you’re adopted.” So I went running to my mother, screaming and crying. And to my horror, she responded, “Well, Jenny, you are adopted. But so is your brother.” Little did I know that my brother already knew that and he was just being a mean older brother. So then followed the heartfelt conversation of ‘we wanted to adopt a little girl and then you came into our lives.’
Throughout my life, I had been asked questions about my birth parents. And I never really had any curiosity about them or even why they decided to put me up for adoption. I don’t really care about how my life could’ve ended up because I’m perfectly happy with the parents and the life that I did end up with in the long run.
Now why am I saying all this? When I was younger, being a mother just seemed like the natural thing to do for me when someone would ask where do you see your life in five years, 10 years, 15 years, etc… But the moment I held my son in my arms for the first time, it never dawned on me how important this really was to me. This child was my flesh and blood. He had my facial features — my eyes, my lips, and, how horrible, even my nose. After being the adopted one, I could not put it into words how amazing it felt to hold this baby in my arms who I carried in my body for nine months, to watch ‘the alien’ move around inside my tummy and then hold him in him in my arms after giving birth to him.
Now fast forward, four and half years later… Like I said blinking could be detrimental to your life. It’s hard for me to believe that in a couple of months, I will be signing my little boy up for kindergarten and next month I will be signing up my youngest up for preschool. I know in what will feel like a flash everything will go by — grade school, middle school and then high school, quicker than I ever could imagine. After my stepson passed away, I have watch my husband hug the boys a little tighter, give them kisses as much as possible, and try to always make sure that we are his top priority. Life really is a precious gift that can taken away in ‘the blink of an eye.’
I know these two events may seem like trivial events to some. But to someone who has decided with her husband that two children is quite plenty, there seems to be a slight pull at my motherhood card with this obvious sign that my children are growing up. And you can’t stop it. You can’t even slow it down. And when my children are screaming, whining, crying and pulling their hair out in that exact order at the same time in public, I think for a split second if only I could close my eyes and maybe this will all just pass. But it is my fear that with every closed eye or blink that time will go on hyper-drive and I will have missed something else.
I’ve come to believe that parenting is 99-percent common sense and one percent facts, figures, and books of experts. I can hear my children crying across the house at night when I’m in a dead sleep. I know their whimpers and laughter from a mile away. That’s a mom thing. It’s a gift that too many people spend more time pushing away than cherishing; allowing someone else to enjoy than relishing in it themselves; and perhaps ignoring the little awesome things to only care about the giant meaningless things that children just don’t care about in the long run.
Once you become a parent, it’s not about what you want anymore and not really about what they want either. Instead it should be more about making everything better for them as best as you possibly can. All the bells and whistles in the world isn’t going to make their lives better, rather love, compassion, time and attention will make them better people in the long run. So in retrospect, careless blinking can cause you to lose periods of your life that can never be restored, which should lead every one of us to remember to live our lives wisely with our eyes wide open and the intention of at least trying to change the life of one.
Jenn, I love this. I could feel your heart as I read it. It was both funny and touching.