To the mom of the toddler who won’t stop crying on the plane…

I know it seems unbearable right now, with your toddler crying and you feeling like everyone is upset and frustrated with you and your kid. But that’s not what I’m feeling. I’m not mad at you at all. In fact, I’m sad. Not sad for you, sad for me. Your crying little boy reminds me of my own and the fact that my kids are almost grown. Believe it or not I’m actually a little envious.

I have so loved being a parent. I can’t believe this chapter of life is nearing its end. Our youngest son is graduating this year. It’s gone by so unbelievably fast. Like a paperback read far too quickly, I can sense the end of the story is near, as the number of pages remaining are far too thin in my hand. And I’m sad. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I started this book? Wasn’t it just yesterday I was hurling throw pillows at my boys as they ran across the living room squealing with joy? How can it be that my little man will never again jump off the top of the couch onto my back while I’ve got his brother pinned to the ground?” I remember wondering each time I tossed him up on my shoulders as he grew bigger and bigger, “Is this the last time I get to give one of my kids a piggy back ride? Somewhere along the line that last one finally did happen, and somehow I can’t remember it no matter how hard I try.  How is it possible that I’ll never have to threaten to pull the car over, or tell the boys to go to their room? When was the last time I made them apologize like they meant it? “Say it again.” “Say it again.” “Say it again!” “Now hug.”

How I loved reading a chapter of Narnia each night until they drifted off to sleep. How great was it to lay next to them in bed in the pitch dark and answer random questions that suddenly felt safe to ask? How wonderful to try to explain how big God is and how great His love for them.

There’s plenty I wish I had done differently. I wish I hadn’t been a workaholic for a few of those years. I wish I’d had family devotions more often. I wish I’d taken them to see their grandparents more. There were so many times I had no idea what to do, and it’s scary to think how much we actually winged this parenting thing. But I refuse to beat myself up for mistakes made, for opportunities lost. We did the best we could, with what we knew to do at the time. And somehow, the kids turned out okay. Even the teenage years were way better than advertised. It hasn’t been anywhere near the nightmare that others warned us about. In fact, it’s been exactly the opposite.  We’ve loved parenting; every chapter, every page of their childhood.

Now, I know that parenting doesn’t stop when the kids leave home. And I know there will likely be grandchildren in our house someday, with toys on the floor and smudges on the windows. And I suspect we will always have teenagers in our lives and in our home.  But let me grieve the ending of this story, just for a moment.  What a fantastic book.  And I can’t wait for the sequel.

And mom of the crying toddler? I hope you enjoy your story just as much as I did. Because it won’t be long till you’re sitting in my seat.


%d bloggers like this: