When I was in my 20's and single, I had so much time. Looking back, I envy my younger self and all those open Saturdays when I would wake up and think “Hmm..what should I do today?” I often had the whole day to myself to do whatever I wanted. Did I spend that time wisely? Not as well as I would spend it today.
My life as a 20-something was not as full or rewarding as now in other ways – but oh, what time I had! I didn’t realize then what a gift it was. I probably wasted a lot of that time focusing on the things I didn’t have (a better job, or a family of my own).
When I married and had children, that was a shock to my clock! At that point, time was gone. Oh it was rewarding and exciting and fun and I loved hanging out with my kids – but I never again had a minute, much less a whole Saturday, to myself. Older mothers would caution me “enjoy it now, they grow up fast and you will miss them!” And I would think “are they kidding? I would do anything to just get a shower alone – I will never miss this!”
Now the kids are growing up and they do not need me like they did when they were little and I look back and think “wow, I wish I had enjoyed them more when they were so small.” Now, I barely see them as they get in and out of my car on their way to their own activities. Those mothers were right, I do miss those days of playing with those adorable kids.
Then when I was looking after my dad, I used to think about how hard it was to see him decline and how hard it was to fit into my day another task of visiting him or running an errand for him. He is gone now and I miss him still after many years. I now wish I had actually talked to him more, asked more questions, and had more meaningful moments.
So, today, I am naturally aware of all the things I am not satisfied with - and in my usual manner, I'm not spending enough time looking for what I could savor, appreciate and enjoy. All times come with ups and downs. The trick is to focus on the ups and live them fully. When I was single I should have relished that time and not wasted one minute of it; I should have traveled more when it was so much easier to pack and get away! When I had little kids underfoot, I should have made more sand castles and told more stories while they still wanted to hear them. The thing I miss right now most about my dad is such a simple thing - holding his hand. I should have done that more too.
Whatever our situations are today – no matter how many “downsides” there may be – there are always upsides too - that we could be fully experiencing. I think those good moments are there for the picking every day if we just remember to notice them.