Reruns and Leftovers

Not Just Because He Wears A Napkin On His Head

I am out of town today and tomorrow, so today it’s leftovers! This post was originally published in March of 2007.

* * * * *

The prevailing assumption in our culture is that parents can’t wait for their children to grow up and leave home. And yes, there have been a few days when I would have traded Sean for a margarita and a plate of nachos. But not many. At least not too many.

Maybe most people do feel that way, but I don’t. Maybe because I waited so long and so late in life for him and maybe because I thought I’d never be a mother, but I am not anxious for this time to speed by. I am fully aware that the day he leaves my house will be here too soon.

I remember one time when Sean was about a year old, we were seated in a restaurant booth and he was enjoying the thrill of wearing a napkin on his head as everyone does. He was having a good time and we were having a good time watching him have a good time. At one point, the lady seated in the booth behind us turned and said, “Don’t worry, only 18 more years to freedom.” Without thinking I blurted, “But I don’t want to be free from him!” Her face contorted in disgust and disbelief, as though I had just stated for the record that I enjoy sticking straight pins in my eyeballs. That was kind of a conversation killer, so she immediately turned back to her margarita and nachos.

But it’s true, I’m having a great time being a mom even though I’m chronically tired and most of the time I feel like I don’t know what in the heck I’m doing. I mean how often can you take someone to dinner and get them to dance on the table with a napkin on their head purely for your own amusement without buying them drinks? Not that often people. Not since college anyway.

Sean is a source of joy in my life. I like having him around. He makes me laugh. He makes me remember to breathe long and deep. With or without a napkin on his head.

31 thoughts on “Not Just Because He Wears A Napkin On His Head

  1. You are right, AM. I confess I didn’t enjoy my kids as much as I wish I had. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy them but now that they are grown, I wish I’d paid more attention to the simple things. But God has given me a second chance with grandkids.

  2. I sometimes lose my breath when I think how close we are to an empty nest. We have a freshman and a junior in high school and I honestly feel panicked when I think of them leaving home. I know it is the proper order of things, they must spread their wings and fly, blah, blah, blah. But, jeesh! I’m going to miss them so much.
    We’ve already agreed that when we drop our daughter off at college in four years, we’re going straight to a fabulous vacation to avoid coming home to the empty nest – at least for a while.

  3. I had my kids in pairs. I have a 16 & 12 year old and a 4 & 2 year old. The first time around, I was the woman you speak of. I just wanted them to get older so I could have some semblance of my life back. And then they did get older and I missed them being little so much I had two more. This time around I try to keep constantly in my mind how beautiful and fleeting these years are. What a gift they are. It doesn’t always work, but most of the time I now find myself wishing I could stop time and not the other way around.

  4. It’s so sad that some people have the attitude of that woman. Why have children if they’re not going to enjoy them?

    Now both my sons have left home, there’s an empty space in my heart. I was a stay-at-home mother, and homeschooled for the last ten years or so before each of them left, but still I wish I’d spent more time with them… when I wanted to catch up with my email, or read, or just do something in peace. Now I have all the time in the world for those things. Seeing them leave home is the hardest part of parenting by a long way. Even though they’re both happy, and following God, and fulfilling their vocations, I miss them. It doesn’t help that they’re both several thousand miles away in other countries.

    I am so thankful for modern technology that gives us instant messaging and Facebook and mobile phone texts and other immediate forms of communication. I have no idea how parents coped in previous generations.

  5. I was somewhere in the middle … I was so eager for the next milestone that in hindsight I feel like I wished away my daughter’s childhood. 🙁 Praise God … He’s given me a “second chance” – not only is my daughter my best friend, but I get to savor the childhood of my grandchildren.

  6. Oh, I feel the EXACT SAME WAY. When my kids are elsewhere–which these days is normally with a family member–I MISS them. I have tried so hard to soak it all up, but the days run away.

  7. Even with 5 kids it feels lonely when one is missing. And when everyone gets back together and we all sit around the table dining together I feel so content!

    And my oldest is a HS senior. He often talks about staying home for two years to attend a community college. Part of me like that, knowing that it’s practical (and not debt producing) and part of me wishes for him to have a Christian college experience like I did.

  8. I feel the same way! We would all do well to remember, even on those long days, that our children are a BLESSING, not a burden, and that the years pass all too quickly! Every month, when my little guy turns a month older, I get sentimental! 🙂

  9. There are some days I totally feel overwhelmed and others that I can’t get enough of.

    Our children grow entirely too fast and too soon they will be grown and gone. We need to focus on today with them and not wish it away.

  10. We loved just watching our two amazingly cute kids as they were growing up. They are both 30+ now and my husband and I often simultaneously laugh and become teary when we recall those wonderful years of having children in our house.

    It is another kind of special joy now to see them as compassionate, responsible adults who we love and admire. My son wrote me a poem a few years ago which ended: “You’ve brought me up to be so strong.

  11. Opps, I didn’t finish the poem above:
    “You’ve brought me up to be so strong,
    I’ll be support if something’s wrong.
    I’ll offer you all that I can,
    You’ve given me so much joy.
    After all, you’re always my mom,
    And I’ll always be your boy.”

  12. “But I don’t want to be free from him!”
    I know how you feel. My oldest leaves for college soon, and while 3 months ago I could not wait for this day to come, now I feel differently. Even though I want him to grow up and live independently, I am not through mommying him yet. His school is only 2 train rides away and yesterday I actually told him that he could bring his laundry home. And then I quickly caught myself and told him that he would still have to do it himself.

  13. no, I don’t want them to leave. I LOVE having kids. If anything it can bring me to tears that I only have 4 more years before ds14 is out of high school, and 6 years until dd12, and wahhhh, I don’t want to think about it. At least ds4 is only 4 :-).

  14. It amazes me how often people will sigh and long for freedom from children. I ache at the very thought. I, too, LOVE having my children with me, around me, living life with me. The sacrifice of my personal freedom is so worth it!

  15. Some people just don’t understand the meaning of ‘joy’! I LOVED having my children with me, and now that they are all nearly grown and gone, I find tears all too often. I miss them! The house is too quiet. And, I have no one to blame for the messes!

  16. I was too young when I had my first child; and though I never longed for him to hurry and be grown, I do remember thinking I could relax more once he’d grown past the stages of so many things being a danger to him.

    By the time my second child came along 8 1/2 years later, I’d learned how VERY QUICKLY TIME GOES BY. I learned to really appreciate every stage of her life, hanging on to each stage of her growth as long as she’d let me. She did finally grow up and move away, and there is not a day which goes by that I don’t miss her being here, being my little girl.

    I don’t blame you one bit for wanting the clock to slow down on Sean’s childhood.

  17. we’re only 10-months in and i already don’t want this gig to end. time is already flying — and i know it will only speed up!

    my in-laws say that having kids was the greatest joy of their lives. and, if they could have had more than two, they would have. why would anyone wish the time away?!

  18. I’m with you. My son came late and he’s an only child, and I’m not remotely anxious for him to grow up. He started kindergarten this week, and lost his first tooth this morning, and I had to try hard not to cry.

  19. I never thought I would be a mother either. I didn’t have my son until I was 40. Since the day he was born, I have made sure to pay close attention and be present with him. In the blink of an eye, he will be gone and I can do whatever I want to again. For now, I’ll take never being able to go to the bathroom by myself. It’s totally worth it.

  20. When my son was born I finally knew what I was about. I was about loving him. I’ve had a career and I have a great husband whom I love but my young son is my best friend and I’d never wish away his short time as a child at home with me. There’ll come a time when it’s right for him to go his own way but for now it’s right for him to be here close by and I love it.

  21. As a repeater “Mommy-Come-Lately” with three older kids and a much younger one, I know how fast kids grow up. So, I’m not trying to rush my caboose kiddo to grow up–even though she wants to catch up with her older brother and sisters.
    Am I tired? Yes.
    But I know these years go by fast.
    It’s already happened to my three times.
    And it’s happening again!

  22. A poem I wrote, after watching a mother walk past my house engrossed in talking to a friend, her child no more than a toddler, was wondering along some distance behind her, when she turned and told it to come here you little *******.


    A time of joy and magic
    The world a lovely place
    When everything is possible
    And every day is fun
    Too soon this time is over
    The workday world creeps in
    Playtime must be set aside
    And you start to grow up
    The time of innocence is short
    Don’t take it from a child
    The worldly cares that we all have
    They will soon come to them
    Childhood is very precious
    And will not come again
    Don’t wish it from your little one
    They wont be a child for long


  23. Having just taken our oldest daughter to her first year of college 2 weeks ago, I am reminded how quickly children grow up and leave the nest. It doesn’t seem possible that it has been 18 years since she was born.
    We still have one at home, in the 8th grade, and before we know it, she will be grown up, too. I have been very fortunate to have been a stay-at-home Mom for the last 16 years, and I am very thankful that I was able to do that. Yes, there are moments as your children grow that they drive you crazy and you just feel so tired, but it is important to remember to cherish every moment, because they do grow up so quickly.

  24. I’m with you. I thoroughly enjoy being with my kids – not all the time, and yes, it is exhausting, frustrating, etc. But why do people have kids if they see it as a prison sentence?

  25. This is precious. And I totally agree. I had a hard time with the toddler years, but other than those, I loved and cherished each moment.

    Now my oldest is 21 and honestly, I haven’t been too saddened by his gentle move into the outside world (he’s in college, living not too far away).

    I’m convinced (for me) that spending day in and day out with my kids (homeschooling) has filled my cup with them, so to speak. When they’re grown and gone, I’ll be happy for them and content with the time we had. Not that I won’t miss them, but I don’t feel like I wasted any time, if that makes sense.

  26. Sometimes I feel like I am being punished that my children are getting older at 7 and 11 years. I do love them more and more daily, but it’s painful!! My heart is out of my body and living in two little people. I love them to pieces and enjoy every second I can be with them!

  27. I will never understand people thinking like that.

    My heart aches thinking of the day when the Disney Channel isn’t playing incessantly on our t.v… when I’m no longer packing lunches… when there’s just a quiet calm that’s come over our household.

    I can’t even write about it without my eyes welling up with tears!

  28. When our twins were first born, I decided that you can tell so much about people by the way they react to seeing twins: A) What a blessing B) What a curse. It’s so sad for the B’s of this world (and their poor kids). Thank you for reminding me to breathe in and enjoy the moments!

  29. Yep, I’m that kind of Mom too. I don’t care. I’m just crazy about my boys and I always have been. My middle boy is 19 now and the other day I was thinking that he might want to move out some day and I just about panicked! I just can’t imagine my house without him in it.

    I guess I’ll have to get with the program – I don’t really want him to grow up and be one of “those” guys, but I sure hope he stays nearby. My stepson lives two states away and sometimes I miss him so much I can hardly stand it.

    Thank heavens I’ve still got my 10 year old. I’ve got at least another decade before I have to think about him moving out.

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