Looking at all the first day of school photos and precious holiday photos posted on Facebook and Instagram last fall, I can't help but feel nostalgic for my kids' younger years. Seeing the first few photos of smiling faces at the bus stop, in front of school, a menorah or a tree, I find myself getting teary-eyed and longing for when my kids were little, and for when I was not only involved in their day-to-day life, but I was the center of their universe, too.
15 Things I Miss Most Now That My Kids Are Grown
Here are 15 things I miss about parenting my younger kids:
Best time of my life. When they were babies I loved the way they used to fall asleep on my chest, their little heads nestled on my shoulder and their warm breath against my neck. I used to sit still for hours for fear I would wake them and miss the deliciousness of them being so close. I can't think of a more peaceful time in my life.
Step away from the stroller. I can't walk past a stroller without peeking inside and chatting up the moms. The newer the baby, the more wistful I get. I actually have to pat my abdomen to calm down the one ovary that's still working. Sigh.
Mama likes the candy. Halloween -- the costume shopping, school parades, and best of all, Trick o' Treating. Truly the most adorable holiday that exists. Lucky for me the kids liked it too! Valentine's Day is a close second, because candy.
I may be one of the few who love Back To School Shopping. I love shopping for paper and pens and notebooks and fall clothes. I love everything about it. I remember looking forward to it when I was a kid, and I was equally excited to do it with my kids. Maybe it's the excitement of starting a new year, going back to a routine and seeing friends (theirs and mine on the playground, carpool lane, volunteering), or mama having some free time again? Doesn't matter. It's all good.
Hot fun in the summer time. As a kid the summer was my favorite time of year and nothing has changed. I loved the unscheduled long sunny summer days. Playing, swimming, eating, napping. And that was just me. The kids loved it too.
Happy holidays. The wonder and excitement and planning that went into decorating our home for the holidays. The kids pulled out all the stops (and, sometimes, all the junk too) and were so proud. No room was left untouched. No holiday went undecorated. Valentine's Day, Halloween, Hanukkah, you name it, we decorated for it.
Nighty-night, sleep tight. Tucking my kids into bed, snuggling, reading and having long conversations. Late at night seemed to be when my kids wanted to talk or ask the most heartfelt questions about my father (the grandfather they never had the chance to meet) or deep philosophical questions, like if God really existed. I miss going to bed at night knowing that all my kids are safe and sound in their own beds under one roof.
So many firsts. The pride and thrill of reaching each milestone. The first word, the first step, first day of kindergarten, and every graduation from preschool to college. Driver's licenses, college acceptances, voting, so many firsts, and they all filled us with joy and excitement.
Put your hand in mine. Holding their little hands as we walked down the street. The feel of their small hand in mine before they got to the age when they started pulling away. The feel of their sweet, sticky hugs and kisses and the way they used to stand so close, practically nose to nose, and gently hold my face with their little hands to tell me something important. Oh, I miss that so.
Weekend morning cuddles and snuggles. Cuddling in our big bed or on our comfy couch watching cartoons on weekend mornings. I only got up to make pancakes in the shape of their names, and coffee for me.
Tooth Fairy visits. Even though they had an inkling there wasn't really a Tooth Fairy, they were so excited when she remembered to leave a dollar or two (more if the tooth was pulled by the dentist) under their pillow. Sometimes the tired Tooth Fairy forgot and had to do some fancy maneuvering at the crack of dawn to save the day. Never underestimate a mother's sleight of hand.
Innocence is bliss. Seeing the wide-eyed wonder and fascination on their faces when they discovered something for the first time, which was almost daily. To see the world through their eyes would be a gift.
Happy birthday, baby. I loved every minute of planning and celebrating their birthday parties. From making the invitations to when the last kid leaves. (Especially when the last kid leaves.) Watching them play with their friends and be the "host" or "hostess" was adorable. Sneaking gifts into their room the night before their birthdays as they slept, so they would wake up to a pile of presents and I would wake to their squeals of delight.
Baby you can drive my car. I wasn't always a morning person, but I became one when I had kids. I loved having breakfast with them everyday and driving them to school. I heard giggles and stories and caught up with the day's news to and from school. And, yes, sometimes it was frustrating and exhausting getting little kids ready who wanted to stay in bed, but it didn't match the worry that came when they had their licenses and could drive themselves to school.
Getting schooled. Oh, how I loved visiting colleges with my kids when they were beginning the college application process. It was definitely one of the highlights. We had fun and it was a great bonding experience. I imagined their new lives and the adventures they'd have on the many glorious campuses we explored. So many possibilities for a bright future.
And three that I don't miss:
Nagging. Homework, homework, homework. Did I mention homework? Studying for final exams, college entrance exams, and let's not forget writing all those college essays.
Rushing. Schlepping them everywhere and sometimes it seemed in two directions at once. Last minute runs for poster boards and snacks for the team. But nothing comes close to the morning insanity as we got ready for school.
Worrying. Oh, the list of worries for parents is long, especially when your little ones become teenagers. You worry about driving, drinking, parties, and who they hang out with. Their future, their health, you name it, I worried about it. When they go off to college or finally move out of the house, it becomes easier in a way, because ignorance is bliss. We just don't see the many ways in which we could be losing sleep for which I am grateful.
With one child graduating college this spring and the other halfway through law school, it's sometimes hard to imagine they were once sweet, tiny, helpless babies. I tell my kids all the time that I love them so much I would do it all over again with them. Every bit of it. Even the hard miserable, sleepless, thankless parts. And I mean it.