While in highschool, I remember being told over and over to enjoy it because these years would be the best years of my life…And inside I always screamed, “God, I hope not.” Luckily, everyone that told me that was wrong.
Sure, there are aspects of my overall childhood that were amazing. Playing was my job. That in itself is just an amazing thing. Highlights that I always remember fondly:
- Frozen cherry Kool-Aid in recycled Coke bottles. Thank you Granny for that perfect summer treat. I still crave these if I’ve been working outside or if I’ve been swimming.
- My sister and I playing school in my Pa’s hay barn. There wasn’t much as magical as seeing hay stacked up to the ceiling and stacking other bales to climb upon it.
- Bean snapping
dayweek. Buckets and buckets of beans to be stringed and snapped. My Granny and Granny Ollie (my great-grandmother) all gathered around the kitchen table working on those beans.
- Playing volleyball with my grandparent’s house. Always being told not to hit the windows, but not being told to stop it.
- Mama letting me play grocery store as we put away all the groceries every week. Not fussing as I took my time to ‘scan’ each item and put it away.
- Hours spent on our swing set. I still remember Mama putting it together. Showing her how I could ‘skin a cat’ on the bars AND from the top of the swing set.
- Playing tag with Mama, quickly turning around to go the opposite way to catch her as she exclaimed, “You’re so smart.”
- Middle school sleepovers full of candy, Teen magazine, Backstreet Boys, and ‘N Sync.
- School dances where no one wanted to dance at first, someone ended up crying in the bathroom, and then we actually danced and never wanted to stop.
- Fall festivals and helping put them together.
- Innocent first kisses and hand holding.
- Trips with friends to skating rinks and the movies.
- Friday night football games.
So, yes, childhood was awesome. And even some of those high school years weren’t that bad. But the best? Nope. I think I’m living my best right here.
Why? Because I’m watching my children do all those things that I loved so much to do. I see the joy in their eyes when I say we’re going to grandma’s. I see the love of discovering the world and the carefree abandon as they play. Through them, I see a return to innocence. I see them live in worlds where they don’t know wrong can happen.
As my children grow, part of me aches for my babies. I long for them to be so tiny that I can hold them in a little ball at my chest. I also beam with pride at the people they are becoming. Each, “Thank you,” “Excuse me,” “Let me help you…” leaves me happy that they are learning what I have tried to teach them. I am excited for school, sleepovers, school sports, dances, and fall festivals. I am terrified of first dates and learner’s permits. I know that while I sit at home digging through old photos, they’ll be having the same fun and making similar memories as those that I did. And if I’m lucky, and I do my job as their parent well, they’ll come home and share at least a small snippet with me.
The best years of your life won’t be the nine you spend in elementary and middle school. They won’t be the four you spend in high school, or the four in college. The best years of your life will be the eighteen you spend raising each child.
A whole world traverses across those eighteen years. You watch the birth, the development, and the discovery of every single basic part of life we know. You’ll see love, heartbreak, defeat, and triumph. You’ll offer support, courage, camaraderie…love.
This stage of my life may not be the richest, the calmest, or the most put together but make no mistake it is the best. I am reaping the richest rewards I will ever know and it is thanks to being their mother.