This week, my husband and I are at a “senior adult” retreat in beautiful Cannon Beach, Oregon. Sometimes I take for granted just how close the coast is to my home….all this natural beauty just a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Right outside my window I can see Bruce’s Candy Kitchen. It’s the classic candy shop….pink and white striped storefront….old-fashioned taffy being pulled in the front window….the smell of fresh caramel corn wafting from inside…The moment I noticed it, I was immediately taken back to my childhood, and was once again a five year old girl, gazing into those windows and marveling at all the wonderful sweets inside. Every time we visited this beach, we’d make a stop at this candy shop (which I thought was even more great since my dad’s name is Bruce), and it has become such a nostalgic landmark for me.
As I sit and visit with the older folks this week, I am struck time and time again by their sense of nostalgia. Now, the dictionary defines nostalgia as a wistful desire to return in thought or in presence to a former time in one’s life. I began to think about this older generation as they ooh and ahh over our newborn daughter, telling me story after story about their own babies….I ponder why it is that the site of an old fashioned candy store evokes such powerful emotions within me….And it strikes me that children are the answer…
I don’t find it coincidental that EVERY older person I talk to tells me how fast my children will grow up, and/or how I should try to enjoy the time I have with them even when it’s hard. I used to find these sentiments annoying/over-bearing/etc….I’d think in my head, “Yeah, you enjoy getting four hours of sleep, not having a second alone, and enduring the trials of Yo Gabba Gabba, playdough, and endless laundry.” You trade out Romper Room for Yo Gabba Gabba, and well she did….and now….she would give anything to have it back….
Should we relish every waking moment of motherhood, loving even the tantrums, meltdowns, and endless hours of singing animals, lego injuries, and incessant lunch packing? No…We don’t have to pull out our needles and thread and cross-stitch “I heart being a mom” on our throw pillows or be filled with glee as we windex the bathroom mirror….HOWEVER, how often have we just “wished away” certain phases of life? How often have we said, “I can’t wait until they’re older.” or “I wish we could just skip the terrible twos.” or perhaps repeated “this too shall pass, this too shall pass” over and over like a calming mantra. (Guilty as charged.) Is that what we really want?
I want to take a lesson from these older people and just recognize what I have….four amazing (albeit loud, at times fussy, and demanding) children. Yes, they take a lot of my time. No, my house is rarely quiet and never as clean as I’d like. And still, I know one day, I’ll be an old grandma telling a young and harried mother that I would give ANYTHING to have my busy, crazy, chaotic, and messy life back. These parents who have gone through it before…they realize now just what they had, and now they are wistfully longing for a previous time in their life. Is this time of our lives always fresh-pulled taffy and caramel corn? No. But you know what? One day, we won’t be thinking about how our floor didn’t get vacuumed as often as we liked or how many times we had to listen to The Fresh Beat Band cd. The things we make big deals out of now won’t cross our minds….You know what will? Our babies….our babies who will be grown and gone, and we’ll just be wishing for days gone by….days we missed out on by being worried about the small stuff.
My take-away from this week here at the beach is to remember the “candy store” moments….When I look back at my own childhood, I don’t remember how clean our bathroom was or if my mom looked perfect when picking me up from school…Those things didn’t matter to me, and they shouldn’t matter to us. I want to go home and focus on my children, knowing that one day they’ll be gone and the thins we wrap ourselves up in will seem so foolish. I don’t want to be 75, see a baby and wish I had done things differently with my own.
Yes, that little candy shop takes me back and fills me with a sense of nostalgia. And yes, the sight of little children takes older people back to a different time in their own life. However, I don’t want to think of my childhood as the “good old days” or long to have those days back when I’m old. Instead, I want to bloom where I am planted…right here, right now, in THIS busy, crazy, loud, and chaotic season of my life. These are the good old days, and you know what….tomorrow and the next day (and the day after that) will be too.