Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I don’t miss my childhood. I miss my children’s childhood.

It’s the first day of school here. The kids next door put on their new back to school outfits, packed their fresh school supplies into their shiny, backpacks and got their pictures taken by their mom. It made me happy to hear that someone else does all those back to school traditions, too.

And it made me sad. My ‘kids’ are all grown up now. I’m so proud of them. Both are healthy, working and independent. They are becoming great grownups.
But, I miss their childhood.

My children had craypas, tempera paints and homemade playdough. I made muffins for snacks. When it was too rainy to play in the sandbox, I filled a tub with commercial bags of rice and beans and let them play in it, dump trucks and all. I made finger paints with cornstarch and food coloring and taped butcher paper to the floor. And there were many indoor teddy bear picnics, plays, rock and roll dancing, and parades featuring kazoos and pot and pan drum sections. The shower curtain in the main bathroom featured hand painted, handprints in primary colors done by my children. My garage became a roller blade dance hall or hockey arena, Cub Scout meeting place, art studio or soccer field depending on the day. Days moved by in a blur as I tried to keep up with those four little feet running ahead of me. When they went off to school, I followed behind them, volunteering in the classroom and doing art literacy.

Yup. It was messy and loud. Something always needed fixing or finding or cleaning. It was full of giggles and screams and fears and fevers. And I lost a lot of sleep but I gained so very, very much.

So this week, mothers and fathers out there, as your children head off to school and you get a chance to put your feet up for a few minutes, look around you. Take in every gooey, sticky, crayon covered wall, the piles of legos, dolls and dishes, trails of dirty socks and t-shirts and stuffed unicorns.

Stop. Look. And breathe it all in. Yup, even the stinky stuff.

Because, believe it or not, one day the house will be clean. The walls will be freshly painted. There will be new, un-pumpkin stained carpet with clean furniture. The beds will be made. You will not be missing any socks. It will look beautiful.

But you will be missing one of the most beautiful things in the world that you loved... your children’s childhood.

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