The Things I Miss About Having Young Kids
As the parenting saying goes: the minutes last for hours, the years go by in an instant. But at least we have the memories.
On the verge of an empty nest I find myself tossed about on the sea of nostalgia for the days when my kids, now 17 and 20, were little and all the things I miss about those days. Of course, I will never not be a mom to them but those days when they were small hold some very fond memories.
Here are just a few:
From the infant days, I miss breast-feeding. In all the controversy surrounding women’s bodies and whether or not women should breastfeed in public, it sometimes gets lost how magical breastfeeding your infant can actually be. To hold your newborn or three month old or six month old or whatever against your bare skin and offer them actual physical nurturance is the purest form of bonding either mom or baby can know.
I’m sure bottle feeding offers much of the same, the magic of sharing eye contact and being held close against a loving body, but as a mom who exclusively breastfed for the first four months of life for both my kids, there was unmatched nurturing for me in that intimacy with my babies.
There is a feeling of relaxation that settles over you when your baby latches on and suckles what he or she needs from you. Medical science says oxytocin is released into the bloodstream and at least 50% of women feel aroused when breastfeeding, which I can recall, although I think someone needs to invent a better word for it because that sounds creepy. How about relaxed or contented or connected in a loving way with this small new being who has sprung from your loins.
But what I miss is the intimacy with my baby, gazing into their eyes, at first they are alert and curious, watching you as closely as you are watching them, but soon enough, they fall off to a contented sleep, suckling a little but then resting peacefully in the trusting arms of their mom knowing all was right with the world.
From the infant/toddler/early elementary days I miss reading children’s books. I love the simple narratives and the beautiful pictures and sure, I can still read the special favorites that I saved. But reading through a dreamy bedtime story without a kid cuddled in next to you is just not the same.
Reading was such a great time of learning and laughing together, too. Well into their elementary years we read every night. And, just the other day, my 17-year-old son mentioned knowing about some obscure piece of history from reading The Magic Treehouse books. So, aside from all that great bonding, he learned something and he remembers it! But for me, just reading those stories with simple messages and magical possibilities is something I drip nostalgic for.
Another thing I miss are those long summer days at the pool/playground. We’d spend all afternoon there, the kids playing or swimming or both. We might grab a slice of pizza for lunch and an Italian ice on the way home. Or we’d head to a different playground where they’d run through the sprinklers and we’d stop at the ice cream truck before walking home.
Those days were long and slow and filled with good old fashioned play, the kind of play every kid needs and every parent remembers from their own childhood.
When/if my kids have kids, I might get another shot at lazy days in the playground or reading books before bed, but it will be as a grandparent who fills in when the folks are busy. I’m sure there’s a fresh kind of sweetness to that role, and I will relish it when it comes.
But in the meantime, I’ll remember the pleasure I took in the long days with my kids while we flip through the photos and laugh about silly stuff we did. I am glad to have those memories to conjure, but every stage of life must lead to the next otherwise what’s the magic for?