As the parent of a two-year-old today and a parent who also raised four kids in, and subsequent to, a prior marriage, I know what I am missing. I am so enjoying the daily interaction with this little child that I can fairly say that I am missing what I don't know or don't remember that I had with my other kids.
As a twenty and thirty-something working man with a stay-at-home wife, I failed to avail myself of the wonders of small children and I miss that fact. Today, as I watch my daughter learn how to climb obstacles at the park and marvel at how she teaches herself how to put on her own shoes, I question why I either can't remember these actions that must have occurred 20-some years ago or didn't take the time to pay attention.
The fact is I was so consumed with making a living, staking my place in society and being part of a social strata that today means absolutely nothing teaches me that the moments that I cherish now must have come and gone right under my nose back then.
I look at my four older children today and can't help feel pangs of guilt. When did you learn to climb the monkey bars? What was your favorite color when you first learned your colors? Did you like potato chips?
I know, we all feel guilty as parents about what we didn't do or did wrong. I'm not going to spend too much time beating myself up. And, I know I wasn't a bad parent (at least I'll tell myself that). I coached all the youth sports, went on campouts, dressed up for birthday parties, helped with homework, was involved in community issues. Very admirable stuff.
But, as I sit on the floor mesmerized over the smallest milestones of a young life, I miss the memory of those times from years ago. I try to think back and recall rooms in a house, a yard, a swingset, or a car trip to pinpoint the events that may or may not have occurred. It may be normal for anyone with grown kids to struggle with recalling the poignant moments of their youth. For me though, I'm now confronted with moments every day as the two-year-old essentially eats up the scenery of our lives and brings smiles and laughter on a regular basis.
Did these things happen before? What was my reaction? Do my kids remember?
Memories are a terrible thing to lose, especially specific ones. Maybe the things that are happening today will help bring them back. At least it's making me think about it.
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