By: Anne Marie Holloway
It was June, a time filled with daily events and end-of-school-year activities. My to-do list was particularly long this day. I was scheduled to the limit and there was no turning back. And as I stood there in the school cafeteria with a case of water bottles and a bag of ice I wondered how I was truly going to manage all these things in one day.
The 3 lb bag of ice I was holding had completely numbed my hand, and the case of water would not have been that heavy had my youngest child not been dangling like a monkey from the same arm that held said water bottles.
I could imagine what we looked like. Me standing there in my baseball cap and crazy hair, all wild eyed and covered in kiddos and stuff.
It is always a balancing act of schedules, people, and stuff.
I could feel my heart skip a beat as I attempted to free a hand to reach out and hug my nine-year-old before he scooted off to his classroom. His younger siblings were giggling as they squished in between us making it difficult for me to get closer to him.
He was so tall, standing there watching me as I was watching him. We made some comments to each other over the giggles about hoping for a day without rain. Like strangers making small talk, we awkwardly talked for a little while longer, and then stood there quietly beside each other.
It was difficult to focus on just him, as his younger brother and sister began to chase each other around tables and boxes. And before the room began to fill with other parent volunteers, I was hoping to let him have this brief moment with me. A miniscule segment of time where our eyes would meet and lock in a mother and son moment. A moment where we would both acknowledge and understand that this was a “last,” an end of a piece of our journey together, a time for moving forward that would never happen again.
But, I was not sure I would be able to share that with him and it made me feel sad.
This day was a big day for him. It was the day of the “third grade picnic,” a rite of passage for being the kings and queens of the elementary school here in Norton, and a time to celebrate one last “hoorah” before moving on to a new school for the fourth grade. This was his moment.
In the grand scheme of things, it was just a small milestone. Mothers are silly about such things, I guess. But nonetheless, I was attempting to make this time about him – something special. I hoped he could see how much I loved him.
My son saw what I was trying to do and smiled slightly with a wisdom I recognized, and I felt relieved. I watched his face carefully, trying to read his expression to ensure that it was indeed alright to hug him here in front of all his friends. With that, my son took the ice from my frozen hand and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek before he headed off on his way. It was all good.
And as I turned my attention to my other munchkins, a young mother I knew came up to me.
She had her own little daughters in tow as she approached. Her children being even younger than mine, she too was covered in kids and stuff. She was one of those Moms who loves being a Mom. You can spot those mothers who truly love their role – they tend to sparkle.
Anyway, this momma friend of mine wanted me to know that she was expecting her fourth child. I smiled and hugged her – so happy for her news. Babies are awesome. Babies are a blessing.
I laughed out loud when she mentioned how organized I seemed as a mother with four kiddos and she wanted to know if I had any secrets or good advice.
I made an off-handed comment and joked about how I had not yet showered or eaten breakfast yet that day, and I remember seeing some fleeting disappointment cross her face. We changed subjects and chatted a little more before we parted ways.
I drove away that day wishing I had told that young mother that I did have a secret. I have a few, actually. I thought about how I could tell her how I manage homework and making dinner at the same time for four kiddos. I could also share the system I have for laundry, baths and bedtime routines. I could definitely share some strategies for maneuvering soccer games, doctors’ appointments and dentists all at the same time.
There is potty training and meal planning and juggling – oh yes, lots of juggling. But this stuff just ends up working – or not working – and you learn to laugh at yourself and roll with it.
But the number one piece of advice I could share would be to “choose love.” I know it sounds hokey and a little obvious – but it’s not. This was the best advice I was ever given and I would want to pass this one on.
Love is magically complicated. There is nothing love cannot face. When you choose love, you learn to accept and let go. When you choose love, those munchkins and your family will come before all else. When you choose love, joy always abounds. When you choose love, you create unbreakable bonds. When you choose love, you make a house a home. When you choose love, your kids become more important than all the other things life tries to distract you with. When you choose love, you will make the best decisions for you and for them.
Choose love and all else will fall into place, I promise. And what a gift you will pass on to your children, knowing that they grew up absolutely, unconditionally and totally wrapped in love.
And that is all I’ve got. But, I think that is pretty good advice.