I was at the grocery store the other day and saw a mom with a little girl who was about four. The little girl was talking a blue streak and her distracted mom would nod her head or agree or utter some small comment. You could tell the mom was preoccupied and wasn’t really paying attention, not fully present with her daughter. Maybe she had other kids at home, maybe this was the first stop on a list of errands she had to run, maybe she was late for something else. Whatever the reason, mom wasn’t truly there.
I’m not mentioning this to point a finger at that mom and say “How dare you?” I’m mentioning it because it made me remember all the times I wasn’t really present, and it made me sad. We all know that a preschooler will talk your ear off, about everything, the color of your eyes, cookies, her doll, her favorite book, a song she likes, whatever she is thinking about she is going to talk to you about. I know I’m guilty of tuning Hailey out when she was little and just talked and talked and talked. Sometimes she didn’t need more than a nod of an “I know Sweetie” to keep talking, but I still should have listened more.
Now that my baby is no longer a baby I’m wondering if I really enjoyed her childhood like I should have. There is no do over button, no chance to get to listen to that little girl voice again or see her do a somersault for the tenth time in five minutes. Did I rush through Hailey’s childhood in such a hurry to do this, take care of that, go to work, make dinner, clean the house, get her out the door on time, that I forgot that she was only going to be little for a short time?
When you are in the middle of raising kids it can seem like some stages last forever, and if you are a single parent with no relief from that particular stage you just want it to end. Those stages pass, they always do, but there is always another one waiting in the wings. Now that I’m older I know that no one remembers if my house was always clean, the laundry put away and Hailey’s ponytail was straight. As a single mom I worried too much and played too little.
I feel like I wished Hailey’s childhood away and I would give anything to be able to go back and forget about housework and paying bills and working and just lay in the grass with my baby girl and watch a lady bug crawl over our hands.