The “Last” Times

Being a mom is not an easy job.

Let me rephrase that for all you dads out there as well . . . Being a parent is not an easy job.  There are days when you just want to pull your hair out.  In fact there are days where it seems like you have run a marathon, circled the globe, and climbed Mt. Everest all before 8am.  And regardless of what others might say, YES, this is the same for ALL parents.  It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, or how much money you make . . . life with children certainly has it’s days.

However, life with children is also the most wonderful of times and when it comes right down to it we all know that every moment is always worth it.  No matter how stressful, chaotic, or crazy things may be . . . no matter how many fist-fulls of hair you have already pulled out or how many wrinkles you have acquired . . .  it never hurts to remind one another that we need to cherish every moment with our children. We are not promised any “firsts” or “lasts” in life, so we have to make the most of the moments we are given.

There was a time when I used to believe that the ‘firsts’ were the most significant moments in life.  We all know the milestones that every parent looks forward to: the first step, the first day of Kindergarten, the first lost tooth, the first solo bike ride.  We look forward to every single one of these and almost always document it with photos, video, and an audience of grandparents and friends.  We are always aware of a “first” when it happens.  In fact we all have the baby shower copy of the “Ultimate Baby Book” that has blank spaces parents can fill in, labelled “My First Haircut”, “My First Word” or perhaps “My First Tantrum In A Crowded Grocery Store”.  The first painting or picture that your child made is still tucked away in a drawer or chest for safe keeping just in case your “artist in waiting” wants it for a major gallery opening in later years, and right beside it are the overflowing stack of homemade cards and “love notes” that were made ‘specially’ for you just because you were the center of your child’s world.

But in truth is, it is the ‘lasts’ that often resonate the loudest and longest in our memories – the last laugh, the last word, the last hug, the last time . . .

A “last”, however, can come and go without ever registering on our radar. No one talks about the lasts.  There is no “Book for Dummies” to let you know when a last is going to happen and I have yet to come across a “Book of Lasts” with pockets for mementos or sections for parents to fill in. There is no record of the last time you said: “For the last time, go make your bed and clean your room!”, “For the last time, pick up and clean up the toys” or “For the last time, will you turn that television off!” Nor is there any record of the last time the children actually did obey those particular commands.

As our children grow have we made a conscious effort to document the last time they jumped into bed with us for a good morning snuggle?  Or the last pony tail you were asked to help put in their hair?  What about the last hand-picked dandelion bouquet brought to you with those beautiful dirty little hands?  Or what about the last chocolate-pudding smile you wiped clean after snack time?  Did you realize that this moment was the last time?   Did you think that there would be more?  A “last” can happen at any moment . . . and because of this we have to wonder how many “lasts” we have completely missed out on.

As we look back upon them, the ‘firsts’ come with a sense of joy, happiness, and smiles . . . the ‘lasts’ with a sense of grief, sadness, and tears.  The ‘firsts’ come with hope and the promise of much more to come . . . the ‘lasts’ with loss and finality. We look forward to all the ‘firsts’ and anticipate their arrival . . . the ‘lasts’, too often, cannot be recognized as such until it is too late and then we can never return to make the most of that ‘last’ moment . . . even though we may so desperately want to.

Firsts and Lasts . . . Alpha and Omega . . . The beginning and the end.  Regardless of what we may refer to them as, do your best to recognize them all and be truly grateful that you have been blessed with so much.  Please take the time today . . . Yes . . . I know it is a Monday morning and you are all busy, but you CAN find the time to make the most of every single first and last moment you have.   Be grateful, be kind, be honest with who you are and what you stand for.  Love deeply, laugh heartily, enjoy life to its fullest with all the “firsts” and “lasts” that you are given.

Take the time to appreciate the little things that truly do make a difference in the world: the warm sun on your skin, the smell of harvest in the air, a dancing butterfly, a bed-time story, the perfection of a dandelion boquet, or a special little snuggle while napping in the recliner.  Phone a friend you haven’t called in a while, just because.  Say “I Love You” to your family and tell them often.  Do something kind for a stranger because its the right thing to do.

Enjoy and recognize all the “first” and “lasts” that might happen today.  They are ALL memories we want to cherish.

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