By Toby Lieder
Slowly I gaze around my home that was once filled with laughter, music, and a big mess, and I wonder – where did it all disappear?
Just yesterday, they were here, and today they’re almost all gone. Gone to their own homes in their own paradise. Gone to their own kiddies jumping on their beds now, and finding half filled sour curdled milk baby bottles under their beds.
No more morning rush to beat the clock to catch the school bus while sending 8 kids out of the house at once! No more rushing home before 4:00 pm to be home for the crew that arrive at my doorstep with starving tummies and wondrous tales to share! You mean, I can keep shopping till I drop?
I can even lay down at any given time I desire, with no one looking for me and harassing me to get up and make them toast and peanut butter “now!”
I can even eat a whole sandwich without having to share any part of it with anyone! Because no one is home to ask!
I can even polish down a bag of chips without being disturbed! Never mind reading a complete newspaper without one interruption!
Sundays are now a walk on the beach instead of busy with kiddy picnics in the park that take 2 hours to get ready for.
But…You know, I never knew that what I once wished for can really come true.
Oh how I once wished for the quiet peace of sleeping uninterrupted.
How I thought that was never to be! But, I must confess, my friends, the time has come and I can sleep like there’s no tomorrow, with no one tugging on my blankets to take them to the toilet, or sing them back to sleep from a nightmare.
Oh yes! I can sleep now like there’s no tomorrow.
I can eat my chocolate and leave it on the table and it will still be there 3 hours later. I know it sounds like a fantasy, but the time does actually come when you can clean the floor and it actually stays clean for 2 days straight!
I always thought that raising kids would last forever.
I always thought that putting kids to bed at night would never end.
I always thought I would never ever get a good night sleep ever again!
But, I must confess, the time has come – and I don’t like it at all.
It’s not what I imagined, being alone at home. It is no fun just having pictures on the walls to stare at when you feel the pangs of hunger for having your good ol’ family back to the way it was.
I never thought it would come so fast. I never thought it would be so lonely!
It was just yesterday when I lay in bed with one child on one side of me, another on the other side, one across my feet, and the youngest on top of me, all of us under one big warm blanket, listening to my bedtime stories while falling asleep, all together.
It feels like the tape was put on fast forward, to a place where I am right now! I am not meant to be finished my job! It was meant to go on forever and ever! I really never knew it would actually halt like a short stop on a busy road. Nobody warned me. I am still looking in the rooms at night to see if everyone’s asleep, but nobody’s there. Hey! Where did my family go?
It felt like just yesterday when I came to watch the kids concerts and plays in school. I took all the photos and videos. Now it’s time to dust them off, take them off the shelves and go down memory lane, and sort out yesterday’s memories.
What I am realizing is, that if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t wish for the end so fast. I would consume each and every day as if it were the only day I have.
I know, I am blessed with over 22 grandchildren, and married 7 out of 14 children already B”H.
But here I am, sitting in a rocking chair, knitting for my grandchildren. But am I ready to enter Bubbyland? Gevald, I am still 17! How can a 17 year old have so many grandchildren! Where did the time fly?
Then it hit me. This is what I began to realize.
Hashem has blessed us with being the caregivers for His children that He blessed us with. He entrusted me, and my dear husband, with 14 souls, and said, “Here are My gifts to you to take care of for a while, till they grow old enough to take care of themselves (when exactly?).
They are just temporary visitors in your home that I trust you to educate and discipline, according to the ways of the Torah.
You will hopefully do such a good job that by the time they are 18+ they will be fully grown responsible independent human beings that will follow the right way.”
Hashem gifted us with these souls to make a difference to them to carry on the torch of yiddishkeit, love, for a better future.
I always thought I owned them, since I gave birth to them, dressed them, fed them, took them to doctors and hospitals, appointments, and never ending changing diapers, staying up at night, crying babies, endless shopping, birthday parties, Shabbosim, friends over, send them to camps, to seminary, getting them married, being there for their first births, helping with their kids…. and the list goes on.
I came to realize, that each child is a world of their own, and are entitled to a universe of their own.
Hashem ‘loaned’ them to us for a short while, until there comes a time for us to ‘let go’ and say, “we did our job, and now we are here to assist you whenever you need us (forever), but to assist you, and not to impose on you.”
There is a time to let go, and watch our kids blossom on their own. That is what we planted seeds for all our life. To sit back one day and watch the flowers blossom in the garden.
Now I must accept the time has come to sit back and relax, smell the roses, and hear the birds chirping.
I’ll water my plants from time to time, only when asked to.
To all my younger friends still on the rollercoaster of raising little kids, I convey to you a most important message: Stop, breathe, relax, laugh, and have tons of fun with your family, because soon, it’ll be rocking chair time!