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2011-01-13 digital edition

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2011-01-13 / General Stories

How To Make Memories Precious

One day, still at least ten years off, my husband and I will be the aptly named, “Empty Nester.” There are times when I think it won’t be so bad to have the entire house clean for more than an hour every other month.

It will be nice not to have to monitor chores, video game time, and whether or not someone is wearing their underwear.

Trying to figure out algebraic equations with confused children will be a thing of the past, like tying shoelaces a bazillion times a day. I haven’t had to tie shoelaces in about 5 years.

But.... I kinda miss tying those shoelaces. I miss packing up little bags of Cheerios for an outing with my little ones. I miss the wet kisses, the sticky hands holding my fingers as we walk. I even miss the toys all over the living room that I had to use a garden rake to clean up. They really ticked me off then.

Still, if I never step on another Lego again, I’m pretty sure it won’t break my heart. If I never have to close another cereal box or put the milk back in the fridge for the hundredth time in a day, I probably will be just fine.... won’t I?

Life is full of what-ifs and the moments of life are so fleeting. Why is it so hard to enjoy the imperfect moments while they are happening?

Today, I can laugh about the way the cloth seats in our van made my child wiggle and whine about “having troubles”; but it drove me nuts twelve years ago. The solution, a plastic bag on the seat is even more amusing now because it was such a simple fix.

I was horrified twenty-four years ago when my then three-year old snuck downstairs and opened every present under the Christmas tree before anyone woke up. Now, we consider it a legendary feat. The moment that you find out your child has stolen his brother’s tooth from under his pillow and placed it under his own pillow, visions of jail time and bail bonds race through your head. Years later, after the toothnapper has lived many years of honesty and integrity, you think: “That was hilarious!”

Was I supposed to enjoy it when my youngest, at five years old, played for a couple hours at a friend’s house, two doors away, only to find that nobody there was home for those two hours? Funny, right? At the time, I was not amused. Neither was my neighbor.

What makes those moments so precious now, when they were so not precious back then? Maybe it’s having the knowledge now that these kids are well-adjusted members of society, with no criminal record.

Could I have said that if I had “enjoyed” those moments when they misbehaved instead of blowing a gasket? Perhaps a parent’s anger and intolerance for certain behavior is what eventually allows us to look back and realize that those moments were not only precious, but pivotal as well.

Had we not allowed the child to see our anger, frustration, or disappointment, the memories of those moments could have been quite different.

Enjoying the moments of the present is certainly important for your overall outlook on life. Of course you should enjoy the present. However, I don’t think it is wise to put enjoyment above an honest reaction to bad behavior.

There will be plenty of time to enjoy the more disagreeable antics of your children after you’ve become a successful “empty nester.”

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.

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