Trick or Treat?

     Tonight I took my 3 and 5 year old (alias pirate and dinosaur) “Trick or Treating.”  Now, you can imagine the scene, especially if you are a parent.  My five year old kept running ahead and my 3 year old insisted on jumping down every step (we live on a hill so there are a lot of them).  Since the 5 year old was running, the 3 year old, tried to keep up, but tripped and spilled out his candy a couple times.  Pretty soon, I was carrying all the costume accessories (including a sword) coats, and the tripping candy bucket.  At least it was warm. Anyway, needless to say, Halloween is a LOT of work for the parents and I was feeling it. But the kid’s, loved it so much!  My goodness!  How fun to dress-up as something else and run from one door to another getting candy!
     Soon we arrived at the door of a long-time neighbor who squatted down on the preschooler’s  level to hand them their candy.  She looked up at me with longing and said, “I really miss this, I really do.”  I was a bit taken back and as we thanked her and started to walk away, she remained right where she was watching and wishing it was her, taking her own little girls, who are now grown up.
      As I continued down the street I was humbled, even feeling a bit guilty, because I had not been fully appreciating the TREAT I had been given to parent young children AGAIN. You see, I birthed these too little ones in my forties.  They are a second family and a second chance at mothering.  My children from my late husband are grown except for the last teen.  I’m sorry to admit this, but there have been times when I have felt like these babies (and they are NOT easy ones), have been a dirty TRICK.  It has NOT been easy to do this at the age when we should  be grandma and grandpa, who spoil and enjoy her grand kids then send them home to their parents.  I and my husband (who is in his mid 50’s) are the ones cleaning up seemingly endless messes, dealing with tantrums, putting up with “potty training puddles,” chasing toddlers in the grocery store, getting the “stink eye” in church because our kids are disturbing, going to the pediatrician again, cleaning up throw-up floors, and trying to sleep with the kid who has climbed into our bed in the middle of the night and has prostrated himself horizontally with his arms and legs over both of us.  Phewww!  It makes me tired to say it, let alone REALLY LIVE IT!
     Tonight, after trick or treating for awhile on foot, the 3 year old got tired and since I didn’t want to pack him all the way home, I had to call dad to come pick us up.  At home, I let them each have a few pieces of candy then confiscated and secured the rest for future rationing.  However, the sugar had done the TRICK, and it took an extra hour of difficulty, to get them to sleep.  Besides being hyper, they were fighting over dad, until the BIG, BAD mom, put both of them in their own beds, (very unceremoniously) and stood guard in their room until they fell asleep.
     There are times I resent being the parent of young children (AGAIN).  They take so much time, make so many messes, and they make doing EVERYTHING and going EVERYWHERE more difficult.  However, if I flip that negative perspective to a positive one, I can say that, they make me take time to play, smell the roses, and meet new friends.  How thankful I am that I CAN CLEAN UP the messes of my little ones, unlike the messes or mistakes of my teens and young adults.  And, who said we need to GO EVERYWHERE AND DO EVERYTHING?  How about just the ONE PLACE AND THE ONE THING that is the most important;  Our home and Family!
     Why, after raising 5 children, would I CHOOSE to do it all again?     Because although being a parent is the hardest thing I have ever done, it is the holiest thing I have ever done.  It’s the thing that has kept me on my knees, on my feet,  and reaching up to God.  It has (as another neighbor expressed tonight) kept me young. It is the cuteness, cuddles, and care-taking.  It’s caring more about someone else than yourself.  It’s the commitment that you would give your life for and the circle of love that lasts forever.  It’s helping someone else to have MORE and do MORE than you did and you had.
     When I remarried, my second husband had never had children.  He hadn’t gone through the pain or the pleasure of being a parent.  I wanted him to experience what I had experienced. So, I did this crazy thing all over again.  There are times when he is so tired, he probably feels like I’ve played a terrible TRICK on him.  However, when I hear our “little ones” scream “daddy” as he comes home from work, watch him play with them, and see him hold them so tenderly.  (I hate to admit it, but daddy is EVERYTHING to them and his arms are their favorite place to be), I know that the Trick is to Treat this second chance as a GIFT from God.

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