By: Sandy Churchill
“Making the decision to have a child—it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
― Elizabeth Stone
This tender quote is as fitting for a mom of teens, twenty-somethings or mid-lifers as it is for a newly-minted parent of infants, toddlers, or preschoolers.
Nobody tells you how this tug on your heart continues well beyond your child’s graduation, first job, or even marriage. To complicate things—the mid-life emotional rollercoaster compounds these feelings to a sometimes surprising nostalgia often ending in teary floodgates.
It’s the surprise part that makes it tough to anticipate or handle with calm coping skills. The other day when running errands with my teen son, I accidentally said “derodorant”, mispronouncing the toiletry as my younger daughter did when she was little. Memories of other mispronounced favorites came back, one by one in swift succession… “ashlye” (eyelash), “trigalo” (triangle), “standbyer” (bystander), and “paterkiller” (caterpillar).
The same week when considering advisory tips and tricks of handling picky eaters for a friend, I pondered a fitting long-ago favorite children’s book at our house, Suppertime for Frieda Fuzzypaws, by Cyndy Szekeres. The heart-tug was again, one of a misnomer. My older daughter had trouble with the title when she was about three, calling it Suppertime for Freeza Puzzypaws. The memory not only made me smile, but stirred eye-brimming tears as I recalled my daughters as sweet-faced toddlers and all the adventures we had when they were little.
What snapped me back to the present was the reminder to live in the present, and while it can be lovely to recall memories of past moments as well as anticipate future joys, there is a value to being intentional about “now”.
My understanding son gives me a knowing smile when these “surprise heart-tugs” catch in my throat and he offers a loving reminder that all is well. We snap back to the present with a new song on the radio in the car or a joke he shares or a discussion on a new movie or other cool conversation. He reminds me that there is joy in every phase—from infancy and toddlerhood to elementary school, junior high and high school, college and young adulthood. I get excited to hear about their careers, marriages, joys, and accomplishments, and I am grateful to listen and help when they need support or guidance. Gratitude fills my spirit when I ponder the amazing growth and development of each child. So with a thankful heart and tissues in hand, I am blessed to witness this journey and enjoy the wonderful surprises around the bend.