I had the great honour tonight of going out for dinner with two men who are old enough to be my father. Both have had highly successful careers and are accomplished Australian’s who have been in the spotlight over the years. One has played a major role in bridging the gap of equality for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the other has led a movement of no judgment, where community has ‘no us and them’ and has walked alongside hundreds and thousands of Australia’s most vulnerable people.
As they spoke, it was evident they have had their own burdens and hardship through the years. They had their own stories of joy and success. But when I mentioned I was a mother of three children between the ages of 4 and 9 years a look of pure longing came over their faces.
As we left the restaurant, one of the men apologized to me for keeping me away from my children for the past few hours and how lucky I was to be going home to my children and my husband. He lamented having children that age as for him, that was the prime of his life. It was the only time he had felt truly needed as a person and looking back, he hopes he did those years justice. He now has a large family and spoke throughout the evening of get togethers with over 100 family members at Christmas time. How every child who enters the family is hugely celebrated and revered. His children have a close relationship and they now have their own flock of children and he enjoys being a grandfather. But he still said the years when his children were small were his most precious.
I thought of being home with my children tonight. They would have screamed at each other a couple of times, had at least six fights by now and said no to my requests at least 10 times each. I would have been frantic about getting lunches made, dinner on the table, homework done, the next load of washing in, the dog walked and fed and thought about the many aspects of the event I was holding the next day at work.
I love those moments when you are reminded, by a complete stranger, your children are a gift and they are given to you for such a short time. They are little for a blink of an eye. I don’t know how many times I have heard this saying – ‘the days are long but the years are short’ and now, only now, when my children are less dependent on me, am I starting to believe it. It seems no time at all that all my kids were in nappies, being breastfed and waking up multiple times throughout the night. It seems no time at all I was making sweet potato mash and pushing the stroller around. Yet when that was all happening the days never seemed to end. Maybe these are the ‘golden years’ of our life.
When do you think is the prime of life?