The title of this blog comes from a Joni Mitchell song that has been recorded by at least a few artists –
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
It’s a well-known phrase and some people even argue that you know exactly what you have but you don’t think you’ll ever lose it. I can understand that perspective. But I believe that while you may know what you have, you don’t understand the value of it till you lose it.
And some things you can’t avoid losing.
When my kids were little, we would stay with my grandparents when we went to my hometown to visit. My grandmother constantly voiced her concerns that the kids were too close to the stairways and could get hurt. She would wonder aloud if the room they slept in was too cold/too warm. When my grandfather would take them for a ride in the trailer towed by his lawn tractor, grandma always cautioned him not to go too fast so the kids wouldn’t get bounced around.
As a young mom, it was easy to get exasperated and see her constant worrying as a sign that she doubted my abilities as a mom. Now I understand that she loved her grandkids and would never have forgiven herself if something had happened to one of them when she could have prevented it.
I would give almost anything to hear her say, “Don’t let her get too close to those stairs. She might fall” just one more time.
Right up until the day he died, my grandfather insisted that he wasn’t losing his hearing. He was convinced we were all just mumbling. So we’d repeat ourselves two or three times until we found the right volume for him to hear us.
Now I know that my grandfather was struggling with what aging does to the human body. He had been an athlete and farmer, he’d driven a delivery truck for Standard Oil and had spent much of his life working hard at physically demanding jobs. To admit to something as mundane as hearing loss? I can’t even begin to imagine how frustrating it must have been for him.
I would give anything to have to repeat myself, just a little bit louder, one more time.
When my kids were little, the constant cries of “Mommy” could get a bit overwhelming. I had three girls who danced, all four participated in theatrical productions, had outings with friends, a few who did the marching band thing, all four did choir . . . you get the idea! Having four kids in just under five years meant that there were days I had to work to find space to take a deep breath! I remember, during those younger years, imagining what it would be like not to have sticky little hands grabbing at me or small people needing me all the time. I was thrilled when kiddos started driving – or their friends did – so my schedule got a little more breathing room since I didn’t need to play chauffeur quite as much.
As I look back now, I see their “neediness” for what it is – trust. They came to me because they trusted me to meet their needs and help them with their social schedule.
Now they are all grown and gone. And I would give just about anything for one more skinned knee that only mom could kiss away. Or one more “Mom, can you give me a ride?”.
I knew exactly how much I loved each and every one of these people. But there are things I miss now that I never expected to miss. I really didn’t know what I had until it was gone. True, my kiddos are still alive and willing to interact with me via phone calls, texts, etc. But they aren’t around all the time like they once were.