Counting Saturdays

by Margo on April 15, 2012

It’s 6:00 am. I have been up since 4:00, courtesy of an over-active mind. After laying in bed for an hour or so, I came out to play on the internet, catching up on some mom-blog reading.

And I found this.

Warning. That is not the blog post you want to read at 6:00 in the morning, and especially not when you are functioning on too little sleep. The author of the post talks about an article she read, stating that you really only have 940 Saturdays with your child before they turn 18 and head off to college. And then she talks about her resulting panic attack over the idea that she’s already used up so many of them, and her regret that they were spent worrying about her lack of sleep and long to-do lists.

And it sounded way too familiar. Ouch.

But it got me thinking. Becca is quickly approaching five. Fiona just turned one. And it’s hard to see this when you’re in the middle of diapers and temper tantrums, or in the middle of talking back and refusing to take naps, but this isn’t forever. The clutter of toys and the piles upon piles of children’s books, or the scatter of crayons, markers and paper, won’t always be taking up 75% of our living space. The haphazard state of our home, that Mark spends so much time worrying about and that I spend so much time trying to ignore, isn’t permanent. It’s a state of being, part of life with small children, but it’s only a temporary one.

I won’t always have to know the best method for removing permanent marker from a flat screen television, or Vaseline from walls. (don’t ask…)

But I also won’t always have children that can fit on my lap (both at the same time, most days). I won’t always have a baby who would rather sleep on me than anywhere else in the world, or a preschooler who sneaks back into my bed to cuddle as soon as I start to fall asleep. We won’t always have trips to the park, or walks down to feed the ducks.

It’s all happening so fast with Becca. There are pictures of her on our wall from when she was just minutes old. In a few months, she is starting school. She’ll make friends, get to know her teachers, and I won’t be the center of  her world anymore. Her Saturdays will be spent at sleepovers, birthday parties, and school events. They’ll be spent doing homework and studying for tests. Someday, they’ll be spent with boyfriends, and then they’ll be spent in a college dorm. And then in her first apartment. And then, with her own family.

Fiona will follow the same path. Each Saturday bringing her one step closer to adulthood. The same goes for any children Mark and I will have down the road.

I can’t drop everything to spend every moment with my children. Becca and Fiona have their own little world, and I’m not quite a part of that. That’s their time. I have responsibilities and I need time for myself, and for Mark, too. I don’t believe it’s about the quantity of time. It’s about the quality. When I am with them, my phone is stuck in my purse, the computer is put away, and the television is turned off. We play. We read stories. We go for walks. We talk, and sing, and dance.

We smile. We laugh.

We aren’t always our best selves with each other. That’s okay. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, and that’s okay, too. Their bids for independence are sometimes squashed by my bids to make sure they both actually reach their 18th birthdays without inflicting too much harm on themselves or each other. There are days when my temper is a bit shorter than others, or days when the endless piles of  toys and papers, the crumbs all over the floor, and the bananas squished into the furniture seem like more of a hassle than it’s worth.

But I’m going to do my very best to treasure every moment, even the not-perfect ones. I’m going to hug them when I feel like screaming. I am going to laugh when I feel like throwing my hands up in the air. I’m going to make a little extra time every day to enjoy being a part of their lives.

The author sums up her blog post by stating that the exasperating moments are as much of a gift of time as the joyful ones. I have a choice; I can either choose to let the more challenging bits get to me or I can learn to cherish them nearly as much as I cherish the more enjoyable moments in our lives. Because one day,  I’m going to wish for a way to reclaim the wasted seconds and minutes and hours, and there’s going to be no way to get any of them back. I have a single chance at each minute I spend with my children, and I want to make those minutes count.

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