When we bought our couch, the salesman at the furniture store offered to sell us a rough hewn rocking chair for one hundred dollars more. We had no furniture as a young family in a new house, so we took it. It had to be the most uncomfortable chair to sit in I’ve ever encountered.
That chair was the best purchase I ever made.
Every night as the kids started winding down for the day, bath time was a must. Most days it was the second or third bath they had received, but bedtime baths were special. As I heard the first kid wrapping up the process in the bathtub, I’d go sit in that rocking chair and LeeAnn would bring the first kid out wrapped in a fluffy towel and plant them on my lap. We’d sit there singing songs and playing silly games while the next kid had their bath time. Soon I’d have two kids in towels sitting on my lap, laughing and playing and singing silly songs…
I treasure those memories. I don’t know how many times we actually went through that process, but the time went entirely too quickly. My 18 month old and 4 year old are now 22 and 24. My daughter will have her first child in January. It went by too fast.
I wonder if I was “there”. I wonder if I managed to wring every ounce of joy out of those times we spent together. I wonder if… did I let those precious fleeting moments slip through my fingers a little too easily.
You see I was an ambitious young man, working hard to climb the corporate ladder. I had pictures of mansions and vacations and BMW 750i’s all over in my life to remind me what I really wanted, what I was sure would make me happy. I was so focused on the future, on getting the stuff that would earn respect from others and bring me happiness, I wonder if I let the real joy slip by.
Rachael and I talked about a lot of different things when I met her. But the thing that impressed me was how “in the moment” she is with her kid. She held her four-month old until my wife hungrily snatched him away. You see cute, cuddly kids are in short supply at our house right now. But even with LeeAnn holding her baby like an old pro, Rachael continued to talk about him.
I brought up her husband, and she is clearly in love with him. Her main point however was how grateful she was that he worked so hard so that she could stay home and be a mom to such a great kid.
At this point in the conversation I was kind of left in the dust as my wife and Rachael started swapping stories of motherhood–the challenges and triumphs and small accomplishments and large. It is the talk of mothers–the details are lost to me…
However I remember the feeling, the emotion coming from this woman. How present she is in the life of her child, how much she cherishes being there to see the growth and development, to care and provide comfort, and to revel in the fact that this life came from her and is giving her so much joy.
I sit here thinking about how I was–how I saw my amazing, wonderful kids almost as a hinderance to me acquiring the things that I thought would really make me happy, that would vault me into the respect of my peers…
I was a fool.
It’s pointless to wish to go back… but sometimes I still wish it. I wish to sit in that rough chair one more time, sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” with those amazingly cute kids in soft towels one more time. To truly be there, in that moment, cherishing it with the same passion and joy that Rachael has.
Sometimes I wish.