By Sandra Rita Reed                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

You know what they say about hindsight—it’s 20/20. But I never really got the gist of that. What I do know is that when your children are all grown up and perhaps living far away, don’t be surprised if you wish them small again. Sometimes I would give my right arm to know mine were lying on the floor in the other room, watching cartoons, or playing in the backyard while I lean over the sink, watching them through the kitchen window. Now, I look back at family albums and I really miss those little people.
When they were babies I couldn’t wait until they sat up or crawled or learned to say Mommy. They said their ABC’s by age three and soon I was sending them off to school, knowing they had every chance of becoming anything their little hearts desired. The clock was quietly ticking as we celebrated their scholastic achievements, while marking off their growing inches on the wall.

Somehow I knew those were the best years. Indeed, when they were 10 and 12, I declared that to be the perfect age. They were old enough to look after themselves but still young enough to stay close to home where I could keep an eye on them. Looking ahead to their adolescence and all the choices they would have to make, I wanted to freeze them in time and never let them get any older. But before I knew it, they were teenagers, and teenagers have to learn some things the hard way.

There’s no parental handbook for puberty but if there was, it should say that parents have to learn the hard way too. I hung on for dear life, and somehow managed to keep our ship sailing through the dangerous high waters that have been known to sink the best of families. When I finally came up for air, they were headed off to college.

Years later, it all seems like a dream. A frenetic kaleidoscope of haircuts, hockey games, scraped knees and birthday parties, all turning to the music of my children’s laughter. And in the middle of all that madness, I see their peaceful, Ivory scrubbed faces—so real I could touch them—as they lay sleeping in their beds.

So when you tuck the kids in tonight, linger at the door a moment longer and breathe it all in. Someday that precious moment may be part of your dream too.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sandra Reed is a freelance writer who has two grown children, ages 35 and 32. “If I can portray even a moment of what it’s like to be a mother, then I’m happy,” she says. “It’s a tough thing to put into words.”