Monday, January 19, 2009

Savor The Moments and The Memories

My beautiful bright daughter Stefanie, pictured at left about 17 years ago with my also amazing son, Nick, just left today after a wonderful visit, and is on her trek back to college for the new semester. I always get a bit reflective when my kids come to visit, and inevitably in the silence that follows their departure I find myself staring wistfully at pictures, wishing I had savored more of the simple, yet special moments as they were growing up. I don't have regrets; my mind doesn't really work that way. I just wish I could go back and feel the excitement with my young children as they prepared to go trick or treating. On that particular evening, pictured at left,I was probably off to my job as a cashier in a supermarket. Their dad, also doing his best as a single parent, had the pleasure of taking them trick or treating that Halloween. My work was a necessity and I did the best I could. But I definitely missed out on some of the priceless moments.
Stefanie reminisced about the year we had an annual pass to Disneyland; how I would pick her and her brother up from school and announce, "We're going to Disneyland," on cloudy winter afternoons. We lived close enough to go just for a few hours and giddily sped through the turnstiles to go on ride after ride with no waiting in line. It was fun to surprise my kids with these fun outings.
Stefanie and I also remembered fondly the many summer days spent on the beach in Laguna and Dana Point, with both kids boogie boarding, body surfing and building sand castles until I had to go work at night at the store. They would entertain each other for hours and I would rest up for my night at work. I can remember playing frisbee and throwing the football around too after a little voice would whisper, "Hey, Mom! Want to play?" Although I am quite certain that I must have made a lot of mistakes as a parent, the one thing that makes me happy is that my kids have grown into amazing, resilient, giving individuals who learned how to be in happy, healthy relationships at about the same time I had mastered that milestone as a mid-life adult.
Stefanie has grown into a thoughtful, sensitive, aware young woman who wants to make a difference in the world. We had several conversations during our visit about the value in savoring experiences, whether it is the delicious blueberry waffles we concocted for breakfast, or the beautiful hike through a state park we ventured to yesterday. I am so happy that she has learned the amazing power of savoring and enjoying the beautiful things in life, from cooking with lots of garlic, "Come on , Mom, it's good for you!" to photographing heart-shaped rocks on her trip to Joshua Tree. Somehow she inherited my passion for all things hearts. And I love that!
Although I am sad to see her leave, I am savoring the memory of her visit. I always tell her that when she is here, I feel like I have all the parts of me and that when she is away, I am somehow missing a limb. I am happy and filled with gratitude for her independence and success but looking forward to the time when I will have her living close-by again. So, all you parents who read this, savor those moments, and don't forget to savor the memories too.

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