Wishing For Just One More Afternoon At The Park

This morning, after dropping the girls off at kindergarten, I was driving to the grocery store and passed the park. The park where each of my babies sat in a swing for the first time. The park that has the slide that I have a picture of each of them sitting on with static hair. The park where I used to take them all for afternoon picnics, long before second grade and kindergarten and preschool.

I passed by that park, and longed for just one more afternoon with those toddlers that have since turned into children.

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I remember how much I hated having to push swings over and over again until I finally said no more, while they begged for just a little bit longer. I remember that I had other more “important” things to do rather than take them to the park (again). I used to prefer them to sit and watch TV or play outside instead of another afternoon at the park.

And now? I would do almost anything to have just one more afternoon with those babies that used to love the park.

I look back, and realize how much time I wasted with them as I wished time would hurry up and pass…wanting them to get bigger. Wanting them to get through the Terrible Twos stage and the cling-on-to-mommy-constantly stage. I wished all of that time away – I took it for granted. And now I regret it.

Because I would love to spend just one more afternoon at the park with those little people that Ethan, and Lila, and Mia were just a few years ago.

And I’ll use this as a reminder to enjoy them each day, even on the bad days, because time is passing much too quickly and before I know it, they’ll be all grown up.

Disclosure: Written with tears tumbling down my cheeks and full of regret for all of those times that I wished them big.

Mommy Guilt

“Mommy you’re always on the computer”

“Mommy you said you would play a game with me”

“Mom you said 5 minutes 10 minutes ago”

“Mommy don’t look at your phone”

“Mommy all you want to do is read your computer”

“Mommy don’t put that picture on Facebook”

“Why are you always on Facebook?”

MOMMY GUILT

Every day I’m faced with it…mommy guilt. It’s hard to explain that I’m “always on the computer” because that’s my job. I work from home…I am blessed that I can work from home and still be there for the kids in the morning and when they come home from school. I’m trying to juggle two jobs and keep my blog alive (Total Side Note: The kids recently asked me what their nicknames were when they were babies, and I found the names on my blog. We all laughed and spent a half hour or so going through old blog posts and telling them stories. THAT is why I continue to blog. I want to be able to go back and remember all the day-to-day stuff we’d otherwise forget). I tell myself all of these things – and I know them to be true – and yet the mommy guilt is still there.

I know that there’s no such thing as work/life balance, but I also know that I could be balancing much better. Even before I had kids, I had the kind of job that came home with me. I would have to answer phone calls and finish up reports and that sort of thing. This job is no different, except that because I work from home and the girls only go to school for four hours a day, I have to work when they are home. I try to limit it, but it’s hard.

So I need to ask you all for tips on balancing it all. Whether you work in an office or work at home, we are all facing the same battles and issues. How do you schedule your day? What are your work boundaries? How do you “be present” even when there’s work that still needs to be done? How do you deal with the mommy guilt (or the daddy guilt!) HELP!

Dealing with mommy guilt is hard. This blogger reached out to other parents to see how they deal with the guilt, and try to find that work/life balance.

The Last Time

The last time I get to meet our baby for the first time.

The last first smile. First hiccup. First poop. It’s all cute when it’s the first time.

The last first rolling over. Sitting up. Standing. Walking.

The last first time they learn to say Mommy. And Daddy.

The last first big boo boo.

The last first visit from Santa. The Easter Bunny. The Toothfairy.

The last first day of preschool. Of kindergarten.

The last first time they ride their bikes with no training wheels. Or want you to drop them off in “the circle” instead of walking them up to the gate at school.

Those things are all in the past now. Time flies…it really does. There are those moments (this one I can still see clear as day over 4 years later) that will live forever in your mind. I’ve had this epiphany before, but it’s hitting me hard these days.

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Author Unknown

I know there are still lots of firsts to come. First crushes, dates, and kisses. First heartbreak. First day of driving. First death of a friend. First job. First day of junior high school, high school, and college. First baby. Lots more firsts in our futures.

But why, WHY do those firsts that they have when they are young seem like such a loss when they are gone? Why do we continually want to live their childhoods over again? Is it because hindsight is 20/20? Because we’d slow down this time and enjoy, cherish the humdrum day-to-day life?

I don’t want them to stop needing me. And as much as I complain about them always wanting to be with me, I don’t want them to NOT want to be with me. I want to always be the #1 person in their lives, though I know it’s not possible. I want to hold their hands, wipe their tears, scold them, and be the little voice in their heads that makes them do the right thing instead of whatever it is that they want to do.

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I look at them and I don’t see babies or toddlers anymore. I see a big boy and big girls. I want to freeze time, for them to stay this way forever and ever.

Ethan tells me all the time that if he gets married, he wants to still live with us. I tell him his wife won’t want to, but he pleads with me. No need to plead my sweet boy…I would love to have you with me forever.

A Love Note To Ethan

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It was a simple thing really. The girls had noticed their friends were getting little notes from their moms in their lunch boxes, and asked me to send them an I Love You note. And of course I did. But I couldn’t give them a love note and not give Ethan one…he loves getting those notes, too. So Jason and I wrote little love notes for the girls. They can’t read so we just told them that we loved them.

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For Ethan, I wrote more. The night before, Ethan finished reading a fourth grade level book and I was very excited for him. And he was proud. So on his note I wrote something along the lines that I loved him and I am so proud of how good he is reading.

Off to school they all go, not knowing I put the little love notes in their lunch boxes. When the girls got home from school, I asked if they got the notes and they said yes. Not nearly the excitement level I expected.

Then we went to pick Ethan up from his Tae Kwon Do class. He was getting in the car and was thirsty, so he started opening up his lunch box to get his thermos. As he did, the little note blew away.

He said “Uh oh mom your heart blew away” and immediately started crying. I mean sobbing. He was so upset. I put the car in park and asked him what was wrong. He could barely even speak he was crying so hard.

Apparently the boy sitting next to him at lunch saw the note and started teasing him about it. Saying things like “Oh Ethan misses his mom so much she has to write him notes in his lunch” and then “everybody” started laughing at him.

He was embarrassed.

I felt like a big jerk. My little love note caused him to be teased and cry harder than I’ve seen him cry in a very long time.

I promised him that I wouldn’t put anymore notes in his lunch, and he said “But I like when you do that mom! I want notes in my lunch.”

So we made a deal. I would write notes on regular paper and tape them into the bottom of his lunch box where no one will be able to see them. He also told me that it’s okay if I want to send jokes in his lunch that he can share with his friends.

My sweet boy still wants love notes, but he is growing up and being introduced to the world of jerks. We explained to him that his “friend” was probably just jealous because his mom didn’t put notes in his lunch. He said that’s true, and that he felt sad that his friend didn’t get notes. The kid has a heart of gold.

Lila’s Lesson: How To Apologize The Right Way

Remember a few months back when Mia taught me a lesson about slowing down and being present? About looking at her not just as a child, but as an individual? This past week, Lila taught me another life lesson – how to apologize the right way.

My four year old daughter taught me about how to apologize and say I'm sorry like I really mean it. We can learn a lot from our kids if we stop and listen.

Let me start by saying that Lila is one of the sweetest, most caring people that I know. Her heart is huge, and she is constantly taking care of others. Whether it be a younger friend, one of her 20 or so babies, or if she’s acting as Lila McStuffins and treating us to keep us healthy, my sweet girl has a heart of gold. This also means that her feelings are easily hurt and that she’s very emotional.

It was in the morning, rush hour at our house, as I was trying to get the kids ready and out the door to get Ethan to school and then get the girls to their gymnastics class. Lila was having a rough morning, being whiny and not really following directions. I was already at my wit’s end, at 8:30 in the morning. You know, a typical day for most moms.

As we head out to the car, I opened the door so the kids could get in, not realizing Lila was standing as close as she was. As I opened the door, it hit her in the arm. Lila, who has a flair for the dramatics, grabbed her arm and started crying saying how bad it hurt. I knew that it didn’t hurt as bad as she was making it out to be because I know the different cries for pain, attention, anger, etc. I quickly said “Sorry Li, now get in the car” as I pushed her towards the door and gently rubbed her arm.

Lila’s Lesson: How To Apologize

She got in the car, whining, and complaining, and sat down. Then she tells me:

“Mom! That’s not how you say I’m sorry. When I accidentally hurt Biddy (our dog), I tell her I’m sorry and give her love so that she knows that I really mean it. You just said sorry and didn’t even give me a hug!”

I stopped whatever it was I was doing and looked at her, my jaw dropped wide open. She was absolutely right. An apology, no matter how big or small, should be sincere. The person who is receiving the apology should know that you mean it. How much more time would it have taken me to bend down to her eye level and say “I’m sorry Li” and gave her a hug? Those extra few seconds would have meant something to her.

So I told her that she was right, that I was wrong. That I should have told her I’m sorry and given her a hug. Which is what I did. I unbuckled her seat belt and pulled her towards me. I hugged her and kissed her, and kissed her boo-boo too. I wiped away her tears and told her that I loved her, and thanked her for teaching me how to be a better mom (a better person for that matter.)

Thank you my sweet Lila, for teaching me that how I say something is more important than the words I actually say.

My kids teach me such important lessons, like how to apologize the right way. I’m sure your kids do too! What lessons have yours taught you? For more parenting tips and advice, visit my board Parenting and Family on Pinterest.