Be Careful What You Wish For

Be Careful What You Wish For

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reader's Choice 20th Anniversary Edition

Be Careful What You Wish For

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

~Robert Brault

Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it. As my two-year-old sits astride the potty grinning from ear to ear over his first “success,” I can feel a lump growing in my throat. This is what I wanted, right? For my youngest child to be potty-wise? No more diapers. No more paying those diaper prices. No more making sure I have an ample supply before leaving the house. No more feeling guilty because I opted for the convenience of disposable over the environmentally responsible cloth ones. No more clipping diaper coupons, which I never remembered to use. This is the day I’ve been dreaming about? Isn’t it?

But with the end of the diaper era, I see the beginning of the end of a most meaningful chapter of my life. My mind flashes back to the insecure, nervous parent I was, just seven years ago, when I brought Haley home from the hospital. I remember smiling at the nurses as David wheeled me out of the New Family Center while inside I was screaming Are you people crazy? I don’t know how to take care of this baby! I think about the sleepless nights I spent, not because Haley kept me awake, but because I had to jump up every few minutes to make sure she was still breathing.

I remember the overwrought, inept mother I was when just twenty months later, I brought little Molly home and attempted to balance myself between a demanding toddler and a premature newborn, while trying to figure out how my marriage figured into all of this, not to mention any chance for a life of my own.

Next came three years of wrestling over whether to have a third, ending with a very pleasant surprise — the birth of my perfect baby boy. The day we brought Hewson home from the hospital, the five of us spent the morning on the bed just snuggling and falling in love with each other. This is a family! I thought. I feel sorry for anyone who’s not a part of it.

Has so much time passed since that day? When did my baby get this big? With Haley and Molly I tried to speed along each phase of their baby and toddlerhood. “I wonder if she’ll be sitting by Christmas?” “I hope she’s walking by summer.” I pushed them into learning their colors, their numbers, their alphabet. Now, I wish I could slam on the brakes. I just want to drop to my knees right here on the bathroom floor and beg him to let me put him back in a diaper, a little gingham romper, and high-top shoes. Maybe we’ll tackle the potty next year.

To think of all the times over the past seven years when I’ve longed for a life of my own, to have time to pamper myself, to read like I used to, to have an uninterrupted phone conversation or bath. Suddenly all of that seems superfluous when compared with the feeling of knowing exactly who I am. I am this mom, wife, writer, teacher, storyteller, gardener, baker, volunteer person. I’ve loved that feeling of knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m in the right place at the right time. Whenever I feel overwhelmed with things I’m not getting done, I can stop, read a book with one of my children, and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there’s nothing more important, more monumental, more future-building than what I am doing at that moment.

I wonder who I’ll be when all of that’s taken from me. I wonder how I’ll pass my days when I finally have the freedom for which I’ve longed. What will it be like to crawl into bed without first tucking three warm, little bodies under their own covers? How will I spend my mornings when I’m not drinking my coffee with the expectation of sleepy little feet shuffling my way for that first morning hug?

I close my eyes and make a pledge not to take any of it for granted, to enjoy every hectic, exhausting, demanding moment I have left in this chapter of my life. I pledge not to take a single snuggle or fish kiss or phonetically spelled love note for granted. Hewson is staring up at me. I know it’s time to lift him off the potty and run to the phone to tell his dad the “good news.” I wonder what his reaction will be.

~Mimi Greenwood Knight

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