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The second time around

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“The second time around” by Saelen Ghose

I missed the world the first time around. I was too busy trying to unearth myself from the grips of fear, insecurity and doubt. That excavation has taken forty years and then some, and I’m still brushing off the dust, finding new nooks and crannies in my forever evolving self. And honestly, I never even realized I missed it until I had kids. They’ve opened my eyes to a whole new world.

Why else would you have kids? They’re loud, they’re smelly, they break things, they don’t listen, they run when you want them to walk, and they walk VERY slowly when you need them to hurry. All in all, kids are kind of difficult to have around.

But seeing the world through their eyes is a blessing for me, or for any person brave enough to take the leap into parenthood. Kids marvel at the smallest of things; a dragonfly resting on a cucumber vine, a frozen crystallized ornament adorning the kitchen window after a cold snowy night, a huge splash from a funny belly flop, a first lick of ice cream, or simply a person with an interesting face who looks different from them. All of these things kids enjoy simply because they are things to be enjoyed. Kids don’t have an agenda or a bag of learned tendencies, they see the world for what it is, and that’s something all parents get to learn the second time around.

I have no memory of any of these simple experiences from my childhood. I remember lots of stuff, some good, and some not so good. I remember the bully at school taking my favorite baseball hat and tossing it in the air, only to have it land in a car that just happened to be driving by. I also remember the look on the bully’s face when he saw the look on my face, both of us realizing that my hat was gone forever. He was as mortified as I was sad. I remember my first crush that wasn’t reciprocated. And I remember my second one that was. I remember getting picked first in kickball games during elementary school, and making the baseball team in high school. I even remember losing an arm wrestling match to the girl who lived two houses down from me, and then spending the rest of the day crying under my desk in my bedroom. I also remember getting a rematch and beating her two years later. All of these memories, plus many more, were vital in shaping the person I am today, but they aren’t the little things that my parents probably remember.

My kids are young, but I know they will have their own set of experiences that will forge their personalities and lead them on their own path to self-discovery. They already are, and those experiences are just part of the larger human experience. But while they’re focusing on the big picture, I’ll be picking out the little things and making mental notes. Or when my brain isn’t able to remember everything, I’ll jot them down in a journal, or take a picture, or capture them on video. All of these moments will help remind me that every moment I have on this planet is precious. And I’ll thank my kids for teaching me that, something I should have learned the first time around.

I don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression of me when I jest about kids. I love mine unconditionally, no matter how many gray hairs have grown on my head because of them. Sure they are a handful, but they are a lot of fun, and certainly my life’s biggest blessing. But getting to see the world simply for the wonder of it all, may be the best gift they’ve given me.

Now I’m wondering what it might be like the third time around. It’s an intriguing thought. Grandparents often say they have it the best. They can enjoy the little ones for a time, and then hand them back to their parents as they go on their merry way to whatever golf outing, town meeting or bus cruise they’ve got planned. What a concept that is, and I think it’s probably true. Every round of life we experience, we’re better able to sift away the less important aspects and focus on the nuggets of gold and other precious moments that we didn’t, or couldn’t see before. Wow, it makes me all giddy just thinking about that next round.

Nah…..forget that. What’s the point in fast-forwarding life? I’m having too much fun right this very moment.

_____________________

What are you learning the second time around?

What did you miss the first time around?

Read in the newspaper

 

10 Comments on The second time around

  1. I missed a lot the first time around. My own parents had less than ideal parenting skills, and did not treat their children with the same respect they treated their casual acquaintences. They had no boundaries. I was very aware of their shortcomings and knew that the way they dealt with their children was not acceptible. I tried very hard to NOT be like them, and I probably went too far the other way. That was with my first two children. By the time the next two came along, I had found a middle ground, and they are much better for it. I have told my two first children just how sorry I am that I I didn’t really get it until the second two came along, and I think they understand.

    There are years of my childhood of which I have no memory, but I know that my children do have memories of every single year, and that gives me comfort. They love to talk about the really good, loving, funny times that they had.

    I guess overall I have done an o.k. job, but if I had it to do over again, I know I could do it better.

    My grandchildren are sweet and loving people who are lots of fun to be around. The two youngest will be two in June, and I wish I could spend more time with them before they grow up.

    On a whole, I am a happy parent and grandparent.

  2. @Judie……Thanks for sharing. You’re probably being too hard on yourself. And the fact that you’re so introspective, says a lot about the kind of person and parent you are.

  3. Like Judie I my parents have less than ideal parenting skills. (Even 40+ years later 🙂 As a result, I spent much of my childhood drunk and stoned. Kinda of miss a lot when you’re not totally coherent. 🙂

    So now I’m a big kid, and I don’t have kids. I don’t need them to go to Disneyland, all I need is a willing adult to go with me. LOL

  4. I don’t remember much from my childhood, but you’re right, it is wonderful to get a second chance to see the world through fresh eyes. Pretty soon my kids will be having children of their own and I can’t wait for the third time around.

  5. Sae, your children are lovely! The middle one looks a lot like you. They definitely look very happy. I am sure that when they are adults, they will have fond memories of Mr. Mom.

    Some dads are becoming more “hands on” these days, and I think that is so important. When I was a child, my father was someone to be feared.

  6. I always joke that I had kids because somebody has to mow the lawn and you wouldn’t believe how many people I insult. Actually, you read my blog so you probably would believe it. 🙂

  7. I’m not yet in that second time around so I’m still trying to enjoy the first. I do know that I rush through life at times, and have a tendency to wait to rush through the months. I know I will look back on this time in my young married life and remember just how great I had it, with no little ones to chase after, so I’m trying to soak it up. Still, when I take the dog for walks and see a little boy balancing on the edge of a sidewalk, just for the fun of it, I can’t help but smile and get excited for the second round.

  8. I had my son when I was 27. I was still young at the time – young in my life experiences, anyway. My son taught me, through birth, the meaning of mortality. I realized at that moment that I wasn’t going to live forever because I saw myself taking my dad’s place as ‘the dad’, my son taking my place as ‘the son’ and my dad becoming a grandpa. He put things into perspective for me in a single moment. He changed me forever.

  9. what a great piece – nicely done!

  10. @Nancy…..Thank you.

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