Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In defence of little old ladies.......

Lisa-Jo, the Gypsy Mama, posted a link to an article about little old ladies on Facebook this morning. (The article raised many valid and wonderful points re parenting, but I am going to focus on the little old lady bit here.) I read it, and so help me, I know I say exactly the same thing at times. Many times. I say a lot more, of course. Different things too. So that makes me one of THOSE little old ladies.

However, I want to explain to you young ones just why we say these things which drive you all crackers.

I have walked in your shoes, girls, and I have been at a check out with a screaming toddler and a sulky child, and one haring off into the distance. Too many times to count. I have wanted to tear my hair out. More times than I care to remember. I am lucky I have any hair at all, even though it is going has gone grey under the highlights.  I have had a child throw a full blown temper tantrum on the floor of a shop. Heck, all 3 did at one time or another. Or twenty. I have crawled under my car in a parking garage to haul out a child who was screaming blue murder because he was NOT going to get into the push chair. I have survived food fights. Good grief, I once squished the food into my child's hair. Was I a perfect mother? Oh no. Did I have moments of pure desperation, truly believing I would not survive without some sleep - ANY sleep ? Of course I did.

Every single one of those times when you reach the end of you tether, it is very likely that I have been through too. And to top it all, my husband was a career merchant navy officer and away from home 9 months of each year. I had 3 children in 12 years. You work it out. Life was not always peachy and saccharine sweet. It was like survival at times.

I KNOW what you feel. I KNOW what you are thinking. I KNOW how tough it is and most of all, I KNOW how close to tears you may well be.

I have been there too.

The tears - bucket loads of them over the years.

But loads fo fun and laughter and giggles and smiles too.

But I will still say to you, enjoy every moment. And mean it too. Savour the moments. The good the bad and the appalling too. Just appreciate them. Because, if you asked any of those little old ladies, who have clear and vivid memories of the reality of being a parent to little ones (and technicolour ones of parenting teens) - time does not erase the disasters - they would say that they would have those days back in a heartbeat. They flew by way too fast.

There is something that my friends and I talk about often - how we wish that we could, at times, turn back the clocks and have all our babes back in the nest, small enough to need us, and depend on us. The monstrous times and all. Here. Under my roof. Back home. In place.


Real life means that just cannot and should not happen, of course. We know that.

I am writing this in an empty house which echoes with memories. My husband is dead. My 3 children are grown and have flown the nest, and are all busy building lives for themselves - just as they should be. Right now they are in 3 different countries. I am a Granny to a little girl who lives a few hours away.

I remember those days. They were crammed with the craziness of life at top speed. Messy houses and paint in hair. Loud voices and louder music. Rugby balls and tennis racquets. Cricket bats and ballet shoes. Homework lost, and baby climbing the burglar bars. Wet bathing costumes and school uniforms. Hectic schedules and toast for supper because I forgot to defrost the meal. Toys everywhere, and lego underfoot (and inside the vacuum cleaner). Does this sound familiar?

What about sitting at a hospital bed waiting for your child to wake up after an op? Racing to A&E with half severed thumbs? Does this sound like I am remembering only a time of my life seen through rose tinted specs? Trying to balance budgets, racing around picking up, dropping off.......

No. I remember the reality, which was never perfect, not always in control, but which, from the perspective of my dotage (HAH) was a magical period. I loved it. I loved it then, I love it now. I love being a Mum. I wish, in a way, that they didn't have to grow and go, but that is what I raised them to do as I have said many times before.

It seems to be overnight that they suddenly become adults, you see - and that temper-tantrum-throwing toddler is suddenly walking down the aisle, and you get a panicky feeling which grabs you by the throat and you wonder, did I love enough, did I teach enough, oh, I need more time to watch, nurture.... But they are gone and soaring up there, and all you can do is stand back and learn to celebrate their separate, wonderful lives. And remember.

Time flies by. My mother used to say the same thing - enjoy every moment, because time flies and they grow up. I felt like you do when I say it to you now. I wanted to slap someone. Yeah right. Walk in my shoes for a day and you won't say that. Yes, sweeties, I would. We would. Because one day, YOU will be saying exactly the same thing.

Parenthood is not for wimps. Motherhood is not all bliss. It hurts like hell at times. You make mistakes. You mess up badly. You can't always cope.

Newsflash. Neither could your mother.

And she thinks back to those days with a little wry smile now and then too. Just like me.

Oh, and just for the record, I have pushed a total stranger's toddler throwing a monstrous tantrum around the shop behind his mother while she cried buckets and tried to do her shopping. I just told her I had been there, and asked how I could help. I have encouraged Mums in checkout lines with trembling lips. I have helped corral children on the run. I am not one of those little old ladies who look down their nose and tut tut re misbehaving kids. I am an expert in distracting kids. I taught for a while, for heaven's sake. You learn some tricks along the way.

I know. And so I say, with no apology whatsoever.......

Enjoy every fleeting moment, girls. Etch those memories on your hearts. Deep. Savour them.

Time flies by.

With love
Linds (and I am not really THAT old. I am 57)


Vee said...

Beautifully said, Linds! I hope that each young mother will heed.

(I never knew your kids were so rotten. Mine, too. ROFL!)

Linds said...

Mine were a total delight, of course! I love them all to bits, but they each had their moments. They are human, after all!

Helen in Switzerland said...

Linds this is a great post - and I so enjoyed reading it. However, there are times when one of my teenagers (always the same one!!) is being utterly, utterly dire when I find it very hard to believe I'll ever look back and smile!
I do manage to smile now when I think of a two year old having a tantrum on the ground on a zebra crossing and I had a baby in a snuggly and couldn't pick her up and the traffic was backed up for 50 yards!!
H xx

Linds said...

Helen, believe me, you will smile. In fact you will be laughing one day! You will probably find that that particular one will amaze you most. It is just the way things work out. They are all individuals, and all unique. And all of a sudden, those years are over and then...... then you pull out the memories and laugh. (And congratulate yourself for making it to the point where you can!) xx

Meggie said...

So true -all of it. I have tried pulling faces at crying littlies in the supermarket, and they stop and look in astonishment! haha. I must look very odd!

Becky said...

This is so eloquently said.

The Bookworm said...

Ah Linds! There are days when I love the happy chaos that (mostly) is my life, and others when I feel old and tired and as though I am hanging on by my fingertips ... but I look at my eldest growing up and getting ready to fly and begin to feel those twinges of loss and regret for what is already past, and I know you are right. One day I will be looking back and missing all this, the good, the bad and the crazy!

Isabelle said...

Yes indeed. No problem leaving a comment. Can't remember if yours was one of the ones I had difficulty with previously. Hello anyway!

Crystal said...

You said it beautifully, LInds! I wish I had taken more pictures and written down more of the memories because I know I've forgotten so very much (good and bad). It's a grand life!

Debbie said...

As I said to a young mom once, "some of the days seemed so long, but the years went by so fast." Having 3 children who left the nest a long time ago, I can attest to the fact that those years went by far too quickly. I also remember those days that I prayed just to be able to make it to the end of the day without totally losing my mind or pulling out my hair (or possibly someone else's). We did make it and now I can fondly remember even the tough days. Hang in there young mothers!!

Dawn said...

Well said, as usual. Right now, in the throes of half raising 4 grandgirls, I have to say that the chaos is exhausting. But the fun is there, too. I am still wondering what will become of my grown children. And praying for soaring of the next generation.

Lu said...

Carpe diem
These moments creep up on you, and then tiptoe past.
When your attention is on something else.
When you look up and realise, you can't remember when.
You last nursed that baby, spooned that last mouthful in.
Walked down the road, holding tight to their hand.
Or the last time you helped, as they put on their shoes.
While your glad they have grown, can do things for themselves.
Are no more so dependant on you.
There's a sadness those moments, have slipped by out of reach.
And there is no way you can turn back the clock

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