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Please Enjoy “They Don’t Stay Little Forever” a Second Time

I posted this essay for your reading pleasure two years ago, but I’m inspired to do so again. Spending some quality time with my grandson made me realize how much I miss my step-children when they were small. I wish I’d spent more quality time with them when they were young instead of letting every day stresses rule me. The laundry, cooking, and dishes could have waited long enough for us to enjoy some hide and seek, color a picture, or catch lightning bugs.

“They Don’t Stay Little Forever” was published in the 2016 issue of The Crowder Quill and won the Silver in their nonfiction competition that year. I hope you enjoy my little essay.

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They Don’t Stay Little Forever

By Margarite R. Stever

When my step-children were little, I read them bedtime stories every night. I tucked them into bed snugly, and then cuddled up beside them to read at least one book. We usually read two books because they could never agree on one single story. I had no idea how much those simple things would come to mean to me all of these years later.

I miss reading Good Night, Moon to my sleepy toddler who a couple hours before was daring me to catch him. I miss trying to not get tongue tied while reading The Pokey Little Puppy. I miss the “red and orange don’t go together” argument that we had at least once a week. I miss painstakingly choosing clothing for the next day before bed only to have both children change their minds ten minutes before we had to leave the house.

I miss arguing that ice cream isn’t a meal and hot dogs aren’t snacks. I miss chubby little arms coming around my neck and whispers of “I love you” just before they drifted off to sleep. I miss the requisite trips down the toy aisle if behavior was acceptable during the shopping trip. I miss helping with spelling words and explaining verbs.

I miss my girl stealing my makeup when I wasn’t looking and using half of it while locked in the bathroom thinking I wouldn’t notice. I miss my boy telling me that it’s a nice day out and we should go to the park and play.

I find myself watching SpongeBob SquarePants just to reminisce about my boy’s excitement and how he used to sing the theme song to me every single time he watched it. I still look at American Girl accessories when I happen across them even though my girl is in her mid-twenties now. I still find myself shopping in the middle grade books for her gifts before I realize she’s a nurse and probably isn’t interested in witches and wizards anymore.

It won’t be long before both of my step-kids realize that it’s time to go and move on to their own households. They will build their own lives most likely endeavoring to do everything differently than their father and I have done. My mother-in-law once told me that kids begin to appreciate the wisdom of their parents when they are around 30 years old. We still have a little time before that, and they both have much living to do and adventure to experience.

My step-children are adults now, and will probably be having children of their own in a few years. They are both capable adults who will soon have their own places, pick up after themselves, pay their own bills, buy their own groceries, and be responsible for themselves. They will become independent and realize that they are strong and capable people who should believe in themselves.

I sometimes flatter myself by believing that they don’t want to move away because they would miss my husband and me. It is difficult for me to admit that they are fully grown, and sometimes I would very much like for them to stay in the child role. However, time does not stop and people must grow. I am proud of the people my step-children have become and excited to see what marvels their adult lives will bring them. I wonder if they will let me read Good Night, Moon to their children. Thank you for reading Ozarks Maven! If you’ve enjoyed my little seeds of wisdom and joy, please subscribe to Ozarks Maven, Like Ozarks Maven on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter @OzarksMaven.

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