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Things No One Tells You...

Updated: Nov 20, 2022

Over the course of this summer, a few things happened to me that have made me think back to when I was growing up and all the things I was prepared for in life. My daughter started driving, my son went away to band camp for a week for the first time, my youngest will start his last year at the young kids' school, and my oldest son goes to high school. To make things worse, I went over the hump of my 30s and I'm now steadily moving upward to 40 at a rapid pace, gray hair and all to complete the package. It's nothing overly earth-shattering, but it's profound enough to me to make me stop and wonder "Why did no one warn me? Why did no one tell me of these things when I was younger? I'm so unprepared."
When we are in school, we are taught and prepared for so many things in life. We are taught basics like reading, math, science, etc. but life hurdles are so often overlooked. It makes me think of the quote by Thomas Hardy that says, "Why didn't you warn me? Ladies know what to guard against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks; but I never had the chance of discovering in that way; and you did not help me!” The novel, of course, is speaking of something entirely different than what is happening in my life, but I feel like I can relate to the feeling of uncertainty of not knowing what to guard my heart against and not knowing what to expect like Hardy writes about in Tess of the D'Urbervilles.
I became a mom at a young age. I didn't feel young, but I was the only one of my friends having children because I was only 20. I had already been married two years, having married my high school sweetheart, and we were ready to have a family. Having my children was the most beautiful time of my life so far. Fast forward 16 years and no one prepared me for the feeling I would have when they no longer need their mother as much as they did when they were little. Two of them are in high school. One is driving. Two are dating. One is looking at college already and is taking college classes in high school. One left for a week to go to band camp an hour away... the list could go on. I heard time and time again how I should "enjoy every moment" or "you'll miss this" when they were little, but those comments, often well meaning, were lacking the proper sensitivity for the fact that however much I should enjoy "every moment" I was still exhausted. Though I would miss it someday, it was hard to see it when I was covered in baby spit up while changing a diaper. I will admit how difficult those days were when I was a mom of four with four littles under 6. What I really needed to hear was something like, "Someday, your house will be quiet, the kids will be gone, and you won't know what to do with your time. You'll lose your sense of purpose and wonder where the time went. Remember, they still need you."
There's a huge difference in the way someone receives something when given the proper wording. When my kids were little, someone telling me to "enjoy every moment" was like telling someone who hadn't slept to not feel exhausted. Of course I was enjoying my time, but I was tired. I was rundown. I just wanted someone to give me a break instead of telling me things I already knew. I needed reassurance that I was going to get the rest I needed. No one ever told me that. I needed someone to tell me that the diapers would end eventually. No one ever told me that. I needed someone to remind me that even though my kids needed me for everything back then, there would come a day when they could do everything on their own and they would still need me.
I think that was the essential message behind the "you'll miss this" and "enjoy every moment" encouragers..?? for lack of a better term for them. However, they missed the mark on so many levels.
My daughter leaves for college in three years. My oldest son follows the year after. I look in the mirror, pulling out my gray hair and wonder why no one told me...
I wonder why no one told me how fast the days go by.
I wonder why no one told me how much I would think about the little things.
I wonder why no one told me to take more pictures or to make family movies.
I wonder why no one told me to forget about the mess and to sit on the floor and play with them because some day, I'd wish the mess was there again.
I wonder why no one told me that having a Pinterest perfect house won't matter to my kids, but taking them to the playground as much as I can would.
I wonder why no one told me to eat the cupcakes on their birthday because they'll only have so many birthdays before they're "too old for cupcakes, mom," and ultimately in life, what's a calorie?
I wonder why no one told me I wouldn't need that minivan forever because pretty soon a small car will hold all I'm driving. No more band practice or football games. No more track practice or CC meets. Just me in the car... alone.
I wonder why no one told me that my back would start hurting for no reason at all or that I would suddenly look in the mirror and have no idea who I'm looking at.
I wonder why no one told me as I sit here in the silence that I would wish the quiet away and wipe tears from my eyes, wishing for the days of diapers, strollers, and playgrounds with scraped knees again.
I wonder why no one told me how beautiful life was when I was exhausted, rundown, and too worn out to look my best because while I was living those days, I didn't even know they would be the best days yet.
I wonder why no one told me that even now when I have the time to look my best and do what I want, my heart, my whole entire heart, would still be wrapped up in all that they are... all four of them.

©Meg S.

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This article may not be reused or reprinted without the author's written permission.

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