The Empty Chair: The Mom Moment I Almost Missed

Things are busy around here pretty much all the time these days. With Brett working full time and serving in our church, and me working both a full time and a part time job, things get a little crazy. But being that we both get to work at home, we try very hard to be involved in as much of our children's lives as possible. That means track meets, baseball games, field trips when possible, school plays, award assemblies and more. It means long talks after school, staying up late to welcome them home after a date, and rides to and from friends' houses.

Sometimes, though, despite my very best efforts I miss something. Or Brett misses something. Even if we weren't working, we would miss things. It's just impossible to be there every moment for your kids no matter how hard you try. I hate those moments. I hate knowing my child wanted me to be there and not being able to give that to them.

Wednesday was a long day. It started around 4:30 a.m. when I awoke to start job #1. It got longer after I finished up my 8 hour work day and then worked for a few hours for job #2. Then there was the baseball game in which it poured the last half hour. Coming home to a kitchen full of dirty dishes, unfolded laundry, and the need to get a hot meal on the table was not encouraging either. Knowing I had several more hours to put into job #2, I hopped onto my computer to check my emails right after we cleared up the dinner table.

Kate came in and started chatting my ear off. I was torn between catching up at work and wanting to hear what she had to say since we had hardly seen each other all day. I distractedly listened as she poured out the day's events. When she realized I wasn't all there, she quietly ended the conversation and headed back to her room. I guiltily finished up my emails.

And then I stopped. I knew that I was missing time with my daughter, and that is ALWAYS my biggest priority. So I left my office and went to sit her room so we could chat some more.

(I'm going to miss this chair being occupied every day.)

What transpired was a mom moment that I nearly missed.

While we chatted about her frustrations from the day, Brett came in and sat down. Then James soon followed as well, wondering where we all had got to. Katelyn and I continued to talk and the conversation moved from friend drama to the possibility of switching rooms with her little brother. This got James all excited because she has the largest bedroom, and he's got plenty of toys to fill the larger space. But halfway through that conversation it dawned on him that we were talking about how few years we had left with her living in our home. Katelyn was starting to tear up as she talked about her fears for moving away and growing up, when James began sobbing. "I don't want Katelyn to leave," he cried. "I want her to stay here forever." I caught my breath and bit my lip to keep from sobbing myself.

Of course I feel the same way. Despite raising my kids to be functioning adults, I secretly wish they'd never grow up and always be mine.

I only have two more years with my daughter before she plans to leave for a mission for our church. And then she's off to college, something she's prepared for and worked for all her life. And I'm proud of both of those goals. But I'm already aching a little at the thought of her leaving.

When you're in the middle of changing diapers, babies with colic, financial difficulties, and sleep deprivation, you really can't see how quickly that time will pass. At the time it seems endless and sometimes it's all you can do not to wish it away. Wish they would sleep through the night. Wish they would potty train themselves. Wish they would outgrow the tantrums.

I wished a lot then myself. But now I wish for different things. I wish we had a 100 years of uninterrupted time with our kids. I wish I had nourished the relationship my children have with each other with my own siblings. I wish I could really savor every moment I have with my kids right now and recall every part of it when I'm missing them.

Every once in a while, we have a perfect family moment--one that is engraved on my heart for all time. It's typically not the big family trip on which we spent a small fortune. It's not always a special holiday event. Usually it's a quiet moment, where we're together and that's enough. Wednesday was one of those moments.

And I nearly missed it getting caught up in the unimportant, to-list of daily living.

As today is Mother's Day, I would say that I got my gift early this year. I learned just how much my children love being part of our family. And frankly, that is the only gift I need. Here's to missing less moments!


  1. Great post - I am due my first in July and will have to ensure that I don't miss or wish away any moments!

  2. Great post and I can relate.


  3. Thanks for sharing. I'm a mother of four who are now all gone from the nest and I know better than most that you want to cherish every single moment you can
    with your children. Way to listen to your promptings!

  4. Beautiful post today and it rings true on s many levels. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Anonymous12:40 AM

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  6. Beautifully written! Those moments are absolutely priceless. They are worth so much more than any paycheck. I also work from home and catch myself getting frustrated at times when my kids want to talk while I'm trying to finish a task. Then I realize that one day they aren't going to be there to interupt me and I'm going to miss those interuptions.


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