By Lona LaChiusa
Sometimes it’s painful watching children grow. I never understood what growing up was really all about until I became a mother myself.
When it happens, you feel a connection with everyone who came before you. Looking into a child’s eyes is like looking into the past and the future at the same time.
Now that my children are 5 and 7, I am even more profoundly aware of “growing up.” I no longer feel the tiny weight of their bodies against my shoulder or rock them to sleep.
After just a few short years, I have a boy and a girl with their own personalities, opinions, frustrations and imaginations.
What life has taught me is that nothing stays the same. Change is absolutely going to happen – good things will come and go, and so will bad things. That’s the curse and the blessing. The sooner we realize that life isn’t staying the same, the better.
And once in awhile, we need to take the time to stand still and capture a moment.
I believe in gratitude, being thankful every day for the good things I have in my life and trying to really appreciate them by being present in the moment. Sometimes I fall short, but I do believe this is what brings happiness.
My mother and I were as close as could be. At age 20, I watched Mom suddenly widowed – just months before Dad was to retire and months before their 25th wedding anniversary.
There is no guarantee that life is going to be a certain way. Our lives quickly changed in a day. But the experience made me thankful for my mother’s example. Even if her heart was broken, she was determined to carry on for my siblings and me.
Few days went by where I didn’t tell my mother how much I loved her and how much I appreciated her strength.
When I was pregnant with her first grandchild, she showed quiet, cautious joy. I couldn’t wait to put a little baby in her arms. But eight months into my pregnancy, my mother lost a four-week battle with lung cancer.
The loss devastated me like nothing else ever could. For months, a cloud of sadness suffocated my heart, even as I held my new child.
The loving support of my husband – who had suffered losses of his own – slowly helped me realize how to have gratitude again. He reminded me that I couldn’t change what I didn’t have. I had to stay focused on what I do have: a happy marriage, a good job, good health, a loving family and friends and two beautiful children.
We can worry about the pain of the past and the scariness of the future, but we sure can’t change these things.
Once in a while, I have a fleeting wish that things could have been different, but I’m grateful for my scars. Now they are badges of survival.
They make me empathetic to the secret pain that people carry. The “walking wounded” are all around us.
More importantly, when my growing children come running into my arms and get a little bit heavier to pick up, when they snuggle in the big bed for movie night, when their arguments need breaking up, when my daughter wants me to read “just one more story” at bedtime, or when my husband insists on making me a vanilla latte and hugs me for no reason in particular, I stop myself and I am filled with gratitude for these beautiful, everyday moments.