Did We Appreciate the Time We Had With Our Children?


At one point my friend looked at me with a sad look on her face and said, “Do you think we appreciated them enough when they were that age?”


One of my dear friends is the mother of my daughter’s very best friend in the world. My friend and I have been more than a bit emotional this year as our daughter’s are about to graduate from high school and head off to college, both away from us and away from each other. Recently, we were on vacation together with our daughters and there were so many babies and toddlers at the resort we were staying at that my friend and I were oohing and aahing over these sweet young children. At one point my friend looked at me with a sad look on her face and said, “Do you think we appreciated them enough when they were that age?”

Thank goodness they were so cute and delicious or really, who would put up with them?

Did we appreciate how adorable and funny they were? Did we accept their sweet little hugs and kisses? Did we overlook the outrageous messes they made or their often-cranky attitude? Honestly, probably not. Parenting was so darn difficult when the kids are little. Thank goodness they were so cute and delicious or really, who would put up with them? When my three children were little, I felt as if I was in a combat zone. I was sleep deprived, I never knew when the next catastrophe was going to happen, and I was just trying to survive each day. I’ve never met a parent who hasn’t said the same thing.

Yet, I do remember truly wonderful little moments of joy and gratitude, of really appreciating my children and all that came with them. I worked hard to try to stop periodically and just take it all in. I tried to laugh, cry, listen, read, play, and be present as often as I could. Did I do it all the time? No way. Did I do it enough to feel that I appreciated all that I had at the time? I hope so, but I’m not completely sure of it. Now as two of my children are leaving the nest, I’m trying to slow time down. I’m trying to appreciate it all now and to be fully present with each milestone.

Maybe, just maybe, a lack of some appreciation is the key to moving forward.

Maybe we weren’t meant to appreciate every moment in that we’d never let go enough for them to move on. Maybe we had to think, “I can’t wait until the diaper stage is over.” Or “Please tell me there will be a time that they sleep through the night.” Or even, “If they get sick one more time, I’m out of here.” Maybe, just maybe, a lack of some appreciation is the key to moving forward. Yes, I know. Looking ahead isn’t always being in the moment. However, some moments were dreadful enough for us to want to be over them. Stomach flu anybody?

Appreciate the memories with your children & the future times you will have with them as they become adults. Click To Tweet

So what’s the right answer? To beat ourselves up for not being appreciative enough at the time? I’m confident that isn’t the right answer. How about being grateful now? How about being appreciative for all the memories, the times with our children, the future times that we will have with them as they become adults and maybe parents of their own children?

Many little moments of pure joy are captured in my heart and mind as my girl prepares to leave the nest. I’m grateful for all of it, but mostly I’m grateful that she is my daughter. I appreciate her now, I appreciate the wonderful young woman she is becoming, and I appreciate all of the lessons she has taught me as both a mother and a woman. I’m going to do my best to not let the sadness of her leaving cloud the joy that I have for her next adventure and mine. I’m going to appreciate when I can and not beat myself up when I can’t and hope my girl does the same in her life.

Love,

Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. CPC

Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. PCC

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About Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D, PCC

headshot of Lisa KaplinCertified Life Coach and Psychologist at Smart Women Inspired Lives.

I’m the proud owner of Smart Women Inspired Lives, where I help overwhelmed and exhausted women move from the feeling of being “stuck” into a life filled with calm, confidence, and joy. In addition to the posts and articles I write, I offer individual and group life coaching sessions, classes and speaking engagement opportunities.

 

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