I have a friend who is pregnant with her fourth child, the baby who is due in a few days will be her third son and all three sons will be under age four for a short period of time…I am sure that she would love to “stop and smell the roses” every once in a while. I remember those days, days filled with work, work and more work. When I got a quick break from the children every once in a while, I worried about them, resolved that I would somehow be a better mother and then went back to continue the job without a lot of confidence that I could ever be a good mother.
Now, I look at things and I know that although I was not a perfect mother, I did the very best that I could do at all times. Yes, I got tired at times and tiredness brings on sloppy work, but there was never a time when I was not on duty when I knew I was needed and I gave plenty of hugs, kisses and “I love yous” every day. I prayed, asked God to help me in all of those areas that I failed and I did not give up on the job. One thing that I never did, though, in all of those years of mothering was that I did not “stop and smell the roses”.
If we don’t stop and smell the roses every once in a while, there are so many things that we miss out on…we miss out on anyone ever seeing who we really are. We become burnt out. We stop seeing the real purposes in life.
Mr. Joe and I were alone on Christmas morning this year and, no, I was not feeling sorry for myself. We got up early, packed our bags and left early in the morning for a road trip. It was a road trip with a destination, with a purpose. To visit Mr. Joe’s brother in Phoenix, AZ.
Our first destination was breakfast, 2 blocks away and around the corner (from home) at the Village Inn. We walked into a crowded restaurant, sat down and quickly ordered. Mr. Joe was in a hurry because his heart was already in AZ, so even though we were together I was feeling a little alone.
After ordering, I closed my menu and looked around. The first thing that struck me was that the restaurant was full of people our age and older and there were no children. “Older” couples sitting and leisurely eating breakfast and having adult conversations. They all actually looked as if they were happy, contented, intelligent and whole. The first thought that came to my mind was that there are really and truly people like us who are living thriving lives without children hanging off of them and/or vying for their attention. They, like us, have entered a new phase of life. All of the people around me were looking as if they had a lot of life going on and that their lives were very far from over.
What I think was a profound thought came over me, and I all of a sudden realized that I live in a different world, now. A world that I never knew existed.
It is a world where the people who are now too old to have children at home anymore go out to enjoy peaceful breakfasts in restaurants on Christmas morning. We do it because we jumped through hoops for many years and gave all of our kids our all. We spent all of our money on the children’s Christmas mornings so they would have everything that we thought would make their little hearts happy. We spent all of our energy trying to develop Christmas traditions with food and activities that would be unique to us hoping the children would have some happy memories. Many of us made unpopular decisions on occasion.
I never knew this world existed until now…I don’t think I ever really understood that this world existed until this Christmas morning. I don’t think that one really understands that this world exists until they are a part of it, until they live or exist in it. We are too busy grasping and clutching for what we think we want and should have or be when we are young and we don’t have time to even notice.
I used to hear the phrase, “stop and smell the roses”. I read it and realized that the message was sometimes one that I needed to listen to, but I did not. I still kept trying to grasp the things that easily slipped out of my grip and I even clawed for a hold on the people who I felt like I had a right to “own”.
Thankfully, a day finally came where I realized I had to stop because there was nowhere else to go. I thought it was the end but in reality it was cliché-ish-ly the beginning.
The beginning of a new phase of life.
I almost laid it all down and quit (I mean quit living fruitfully.) It was tempting, but I have discovered a life that I never knew existed and those of you who have never experienced it will think I am talking crazy until you, yourself experience it!
I stumbled on it and most of the time, now, I wake up every day thinking how much I am enjoying life, now. I think about how much I almost missed out on and I cautiously whisper to those who are close enough to hear me, “I love my life, I love the life that God has given to Mr. Joe and I”.
The phase of life that we are in…
The phase of life that I so feared…having no one who was dependent on me. Being alone. Sometimes waking in the wee hours of morning and knowing that it is time to get up (for me) but knowing that there will be no noise, no disasters, no one asking for food or having problems that need immediate solutions. Dreading it sometimes and looking forward to it more and more each day!
It was sad for a while and then I accepted the “empty house”, the “empty nest” although at first I looked at it as a slight curse.
I felt like I had done something wrong, that they had all deserted me, but in reality it was time… It was time for their wings to become skilled in the flight of adulthood. It was time for them to be grownups and adults in the hard, sometimes cruel adult world.
And…it was time for me to rest and even see different things, things that I didn’t know existed. Things and worlds that were totally foreign and hidden from me in the throes of pre, present and post mommy-hood.
There even comes a time for us mommy’s to “grow up”. Graduate into a different world. And, yes, there are different worlds out there and they are not very far away.
Sometimes they are just around the corner…they’ve always been there…we just have to stop and smell the roses.
Love and blessings to you and yours,
Happy New Year and Merry belated Christmas!