Jon’s fine motor skills developed slowly as a child. At 18 months old, one of the recommended therapies of the early intervention program he attended was picking up Cheerios from his high chair tray to help him strengthen his pincher grasp. He struggled getting his little thumb and forefinger to work together.
Cheerios accompanied us everywhere. He practiced eating them off the church pew during services, in the car from a cup, in high chairs at restaurants. I became obsessed with helping him learn to pick up those little O’s and get them in his mouth and admit there were days I was sad or frustrated, sometimes both, that it was taking him so long to do what other babies did naturally.
When David was 18 months old, he toddled to the cabinet in the kitchen where the cereal boxes were kept, opened the new Sam’s Club size box of Cheerios and dumped its entire contents over his head. I found him sitting in the pile on the floor stuffing Cheerios in his mouth so fast you’d think he’d not been fed for three days. I remember being a bit annoyed as I cleaned the mess up and washed Cheerio dust out of his hair.
As much as my boys were different, in other ways they were the same.
Jon made a trip to the pediatrician somewhere between the age of 4 or 5 because he had a pea stuck up his nose. Obviously picking up all those Cheerios taught him the fine motor skills he needed to get a pea from his plate to the inside of his tiny nostril.
David, at the age of four or five, arrived at the pediatrician’s office with a piece of styrofoam stuck in his ear.
I remember being exasperated with each of them both times.
As I think back on this Mothers’ Day, I realize, some of the most frustrating moments of raising children are now some of my fondest memories. Time has a way of softening the drama and exhaustion of motherhood.
Time also has an uncanny way of changing everything.
What was then an inconvenience and annoyance to my younger and impatient self is now a treasure stored in the safe box of my heart.
Having and raising kids is an adventure like no other and we all have the same gift of time to experience our children’s remarkable growth process.
Jon can raid the panty and fridge on his own now and has no problem putting large amounts of food in his mouth on any given day. David doesn’t stick styrofoam in his ears anymore but knows how to install it inside the walls of a house to keep the heat and cold out.
Moms, if you still have young ones, I’d like to tell you, in the everyday exhaustion and insanity of mothering, don’t freak out over the little things; but then I would be robbing you of some of the best memories to hold on to when your kids are grown.
Just know this: if that thing they’re doing frustrates you today, thirty years from now you’ll probably think of it and smile.
Time is precious.
Time is fleeting.
Time is a memory keeper.
Happy Mother’s Day!