We all have those moments when we wish our kids would grow up. We long for the day when they can take care of themselves, make their own sandwiches, pack their own travel bags, and clean up their own messes. I know my personal pet-peeves at the moment are smeared hand prints on the inside rear window of the car, leaving toothpaste globs in the sink, and splattered water droplets on the bathroom mirror from our kids slamming their toothbrushes (bristle side up) against the sink edge after brushing in an attempt to clean them out. They laugh at the range of their splatters and the designs they can see (like spotting cloud shapes) while I take a deep breathe and count to ten.
But we also know as parents that these times will pass by never to return again unless we are lucky enough to experience grandchildren. We are reminded by older and wiser people to "enjoy these days" and our yearly holiday greeting cards bear silent witness to the fact that they are indeed growing up quickly.
Popular songs such as "There Goes My Life" by Kenny Chesney, or "In Pictures" by Alabama, or "Don't Miss Your Life" by Phil Vassar have all captured the fragility of this time and the importance of recognizing and enjoying it before it's gone.
The ideas in these songs capture the big picture of little lives passing into not-so-little lives anymore and the importance of being there as parents. These ideas are immeasurably important to understand. I suggest here, however, that there is an even greater, more powerful and often overlooked beauty in this age that is passing and we parents need to get ahold of it. In fact, we need to let it get ahold of us, too. I'm talking about the beauty of little hugs.
The simple act of throwing your arms around someone so small, the kind where you can get your whole arm around them, and hugging them while they melt into you and do the same is a precious gift. The closeness, the love, the smell of their hair, their laughter, their smile, their desire to be nowhere else but body to body with you is amazing. Often times we hurry through the hug to move on with whatever we are doing. I would challenge each of us to linger a bit and savor the moment.
A great friend of mine with two high school daughters summed it up best upon reflecting on these moments in his own life, "to hold one so small in your arms and to be held in return are times I wish I could go back and re-live. What a joy."
Kids grow up. You can still hug them and still laugh with them and still love them and still enjoy being together with them, but there will never again be those tiny faces and bodies and arms throwing themselves at you or clasping you as tightly. What a joy indeed. I've learned that if your kids can still provide them don't let the day pass without one!