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My "Only" List - Livin' the Good Life

Jan. 21st, 2009

07:34 am - My "Only" List

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When one gets older, life gets poignant. These days, I often think about how temporary things are, which is exquisitely poignant. On the bright side, the painful experiences of the past, like my nightmare surgery and it's seemingly endless recovery, DID end. It is now only a distant memory. Some of the memories of incidents that used to make me squirm are more like stories I read a long time ago in a book... like they may even have happened to someone else. The "poignant" part is about what I call "my only list". While experiencing the pleasures on this list, it seemed like they would last forever. Sometimes, but not usually, I wondered when they would ever end! There was the sense that this particular experience was "my life" because I couldn't imagine what might come after that. Since I was busy doing these all-encompassing, completely-engaging things, I didn't have the time or interest to imagine a different future. I was living solidly in the present.
Here is part of my "only" list that makes sense at age 60, but not at age 20 or 30:

I only got to breastfeed babies a total of 14 years.

I only got to be pregnant and give birth 5 times.

I only got to sleep with babies for 12 years.

I only got to watch my kids swim at swim meets for 22 years.

I only got to spend my Saturdays every fall watching my kids play soccer at the soccer fields for about 12 years.

I only got to pretend I was Santa Claus for about 20 years.

I only got to read the Narnia series aloud 5 times to my family.

(Same with the Prydain series)

I only got to watch my kids in 2 dozen or more plays (and countless rehearsals).

The list goes on, but I think I've gotten the picture across. I enjoyed the HECK out of all that kid stuff! What I want to make sure I'm clear about is that I don't necessarily wish I could do these things AGAIN. I feel fulfilled and DONE with these experiences. It's just that at the age of 60, looking back at those experiences, they seem so brief! Like a little blip in my life. Back then, it seemed like forever... like it was always going to be like that. Now I know better. It makes me want to implore parents to savor every moment, to enthusiastically show up for every game, every concert, every recital, every play in the living room, every rehearsal and practise, every chance to snuggle, every chance to hold and carry and kiss... because you don't know if this will be the last time for this particular experience with this particular child. And then it's gone. Melodramatic? No. It's real and it's important. I feel sorry for those who miss all this kind of stuff due to being too busy with other things. I feel sorry for those who can only think about when the pregnancy will be over, when the birth will be over, when their child will wean, when their child can walk instead of being carried, when their child can read the book to themselves, soothe themselves to sleep without help, grow out of their interests that require mom or dad to get them there, drive themselves to their events so mom doesn't have to go. The list goes on. This is one of the main reasons I lead a "moms group". I want to be an enthusiastic support for enjoying each moment, each precious stage of their child's life, so they can someday look back with a feeling of fullness and completeness and very few regrets.


Date:January 21st, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
This is one of the best explanations I have ever read on enjoying the moment of parenting. The days were long back then but the years flew by. Doesn't quite make sense but that's the way it was. I think sometimes of those who choose not to be parents, and how they will never ever know what they missed. I had a blast.
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Date:January 21st, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
Sorry, forgot to also mention...I am curious about your nightmare surgery and recovery. That would make a good post. Amazing the things we live through that at times we think we can't.
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Date:February 20th, 2009 04:45 am (UTC)
Sweet, wise words Darlene. Thank you.
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