I was standing in our kitchen after tucking all three of my kids into bed for the night when my oldest son, now seven, came out of his room. I knew the moment his brother and sister heard him out of bed they would follow.
“Perfect,” I thought.
I had just gotten them all quiet in their rooms. I had just decided to work on the dishes. I had just “finished” for the day.
He grabbed me tight around my waist and looked up at me.
“Momma? I just wanted to give you one last hug.”
I could tell that it wasn’t a trick to push bedtime back a few more minutes. It was honest. It was just a little boy who wanted one minute alone with his momma that he didn’t have to share with anyone else.
And as we stood there with his little brown eyes looking up at me, I heard this voice from deep inside my heart whisper… “You’ll wish you had hugged him longer.”
I motioned to a chair nearby, and he climbed up. Standing face to face, he wrapped his arms around my neck and buried his head in my shoulder
… and I held him until he decided to let go.
That voice has good advice if I will just stop and listen for her.
She’s not in the middle of it. She’s not overwhelmed from all of the little years, or the trying years, or the “will this ever end” years. She has the wisdom of a woman looking back, the wisdom of someone standing at the end of childhood who would do anything to do it again, play it over, and make different choices.
Ten years from now I’ll meet her in the mirror. Her children will be nearly grown, driving, and planning for college. Her boy, nearly eighteen, will be a breath away from becoming a man.
And the day she watches him drive off away from home, she’ll remember the night she watched him walk back to his room… and she’ll finally see it. She’ll wish she could go back and tell herself what to do that night. She’ll wish she could grab her younger self by the shoulders and say, “Hold on longer! None of it’s as important as they are. NONE of it.”
So I try to listen for her words now. I try to listen for the places where ten years from now I will wish that I had made the other decision – hugged them more, played more, been more present.
And I do my very best to take her advice from this side of it… knowing I will never regret one moment that I did.