By Linda O'Connor
I glance into our family room. My two pajama-clad daughters, buried beneath blankets, are lounging on couches, watching a movie and chatting. They laugh easily together. Half-emptied glasses, dirty plates and silverware rest on the coffee table nearby. My adult children are home for the holidays.
I wonder how much longer our house will be the image my daughters see when they reference the word “home.” It’s inevitable that as my youngest graduates from college and finds her own place and my oldest settles into a place of her own that our home will be “mom and dad’s home” or their “childhood home.”
I love having my children home. When they aren’t here, I miss the laughter, chatter and comings and goings that accompany their visits. Sure, the house is messier when they are home. The dishwasher runs more often – although dishes often don’t find their way into the machine without some prompting. Their bedroom doors remain shut to conceal the clothes-strewn chaos within.
During the holidays, it’s best to stay clear of the bathroom the girls share at the top of the stairs. Electrical cords from flat irons and hair dryers snake across the bathroom floor. Makeup, brushes, hair ties and wet towels pepper the room.
My youngest daughter and our 13-year-old dog vie for a spot in front of our fireplace. My daughter moves our dog’s bed aside and relaxes in front of the flames, enjoying the heat. My dog, displaced, barks at my daughter in an effort to regain territory. After some back and forth, they share the space – neither quite content with the compromise.
Despite the mess and our dog’s discontent, I look forward to each and every visit. When my daughters are home, our family is whole again. All is right with the world.
The holidays end much too quickly and visits are over well before I am ready to say goodbye. I close my eyes and imagine the next visit, wonder how much longer we’ll have these special moments with our family.
I remember when my oldest daughter, now age 25, was just a toddler. I was pushing her on a swing at a local park when an older woman nearby struck up a conversation. She told me to “enjoy these moments as they pass quickly.” I laughed. Although life was busy, back then I felt like I was enjoying time with my daughter and I didn’t feel or maybe recognize the quickening pace that the woman referred to. Now, all these years later, I see the wisdom in her words.
In the movie “Cheaper by the Dozen,” with Steve Martin, at one point Martin complains about how fast time passes and how quickly children grow up. He says something like “you blink and your kids are grown.” He concludes that he will do “no more blinking.” I wish it were that easy.
While I have enjoyed every stage of my daughters’ lives from babies to adults and continue to enjoy their conversation, laughter and the wonderful people they have become, life seems to quicken with age. The days, weeks and months pass so very fast.
A vacation that took forever to plan is here and gone. Holidays come and go. Children grow and move out. And while my job as a parent is to raise my children to become independent adults who can support themselves and contribute to society, I can’t help but fondly remember the days when we all lived under one roof in a place we all referred to as home.
Linda O’Connor, of Orchard Park, cherishes the time she spends with her two grown daughters.