“Mommy, can you sew a button on my P.E. uniform?” “Ma, I sat on my homework and it’s wrinkled, can you iron it?” “Mom, I signed you up to bring cookies on Thursday, OK?” These are the sounds that filled my home for over twenty years. So many things to do while going in so many different directions. They were frantic days, but they were filled with love and a sense of purpose. I miss those years/
My home is quiet now. My husband passed away more than two years ago and my children have long gone out on their own. I miss those years. So I hold on tight to the memories.
My son was an active child, always testing the limits. He crashed toy trucks into walls, colored outside the lines and was “all boy.” Sometimes, when my 8 month old puppy starts running around in circles, I call him by my son’s name instead. He reminds me of that playful boy who was full of the dickens. Without thinking, I repeat the phrase I used too often with my son: “What is your problem?!!” but to no avail.
My boy had a deep, sensitive side as well. I sang to him at night and read Dr. Seuss until I knew those books by heart. When he couldn’t sleep and wanted to be near me, he’d sneak into my room and crawl under the bed. Dr. Spock had told us that co-sleeping was bad, and my son knew he’d be sent back to his room if he was caught. I wish I had followed my instincts and let him curl up in my arms and stay there all night.
I was always amazed by my daughter’s self confidence. Although she got glasses at 15 months old and had bushy, Jewish hair, she thought she was the cutest thing in town. I watched her on the playground with a trail of blonde haired, blue eyed girls following her every move.
When she decided to run for 6th grade president, we practiced her speech night after night. She walked confidently onto the stage, looking like a 10 year old Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I mouthed every word with her as she gave her speech, and when she won I said, “Today 6th grade, tomorrow the world!” We laughed for days over that line.
When she was in 7th grade we moved to Palos Verdes, and she was teased for the first time in her life. Some girls made fun of her glasses and she came home that day in tears. I immediately made an appointment for her to get contact lenses. I urged her to get involved with a nicer group of kids and she found her way through a difficult transition.
How I loved being at the center of my children’s lives, being the one they came to for comfort and approval. I remember watching my son play little league and praying for a “ball” so he’d get on base. And what fun we had with the costume fittings for ballet recitals, and bringing roses backstage at the end of a show. What joy I felt watching my children’s faces light up when I came home early from work. I was loved, I was needed, I was their mommy.
My son is 40 now and my daughter is 38. They have successful careers and children of their own. They have spouses who come first, as well they should. I know they love me, but the dynamics have changed. Instead of playing the leading role, I am now cast as one of the supporting players.
I’ve retired from my career as a college professor and age is catching up with me. I try to stay busy, but there are days when the loneliness overwhelms me. I’m up at 6am and sit on the couch until 10, waiting for a reason to get dressed and get out. There’s nobody there to ask how I slept, or keep me company while I make coffee and watch the news. Day after day the monotony continues and I’m still alone in my empty house.
On those days, I try to be grateful for all the good in my life. If that doesn’t work, I pray for the courage to be gentle with myself, and to be kind to others. And then I remember how much I love to write. So I pick up my pen hoping to connect with someone who feels the same way. I see what I’ve written and I think… Yes, I really miss those years.