By Leslie Bertucci, NOLACatholicParenting.org
Not long ago, I noticed the lady in line behind me at the grocery. She had two young boys seated in the front of her cart, who looked like brothers, about 3 and 4 years old. They were playfully shoving each other and giggling.
Their mother was trying her best to get them to sit still and be quiet without calling too much attention to their behavior.
I watched this scene for a few minutes as I unloaded my groceries. Then I felt compelled to speak to this woman who was growing more frantic every moment as she tried to keep the disturbance to a minimum.
“I remember my boys at that age,” I grinned. She looked up at me in surprise. When she noticed my smile there was visible relief on her face. “I would give anything to have them that age again, even at the grocery,” I said.
“They’re good boys,” she shrugged, running her fingers through the hair of the one nearest her. “But sometimes, they get a little too energetic.”
“No such thing,” I said. “Boys were made to be rough and tumble. And yours look like they enjoy each other’s company.”
“Maybe a little too much,” she said apologetically. “But, they are good friends.”
“You know, if I could go back and do it all again, there’s one thing I would do very differently,” I confided to her, raising my voice just enough for the people around us to hear.
“I would care much less about what other people think of me and my parenting skills; I would just love my children and make sure they knew they were loved.”
She looked up and our eyes locked for a few seconds.
“My four boys are grown men now, except for the 14-year-old who still lets me hug him,” I smiled. “And my daughter has two kids of her own. They’re amazing young adults, and I’m so proud of them. I’m thankful that, even though I didn’t do everything right as a mom, they turned out OK in spite of me.
God has a way of filling in our gaps. But I would give anything for one more day to sit on the floor and build Legos with them, or play hide and seek, or pile everyone together on the bed and read a chapter of Narnia out loud. I used to do character voices and everything.
At this point, I had to stop talking as there was suddenly a big lump in my throat. I was picturing my kids as toddlers and realizing how much I truly missed that time of their lives.
But it was enough. That mom understood. And she looked at her sweet boys with so much love. She didn’t even fuss when they shoved each other and giggled.
As I pushed my groceries to the car I sent a group text to my big kids, inviting them over for dinner and storytime. … for old time’s sake.
Leslie Bertucci is a native New Orleanian who attended St. Mary’s Dominican High School and Loyola University New Orleans. She has been married to Johnny Bertucci since 1985. They have five children, ages 31 to 14, and two grandchildren. Leslie homeschooled her oldest four children through 12th grade; her youngest son is a freshman at Archbishop Hannan High School.
Since 1982, God has led Leslie into the ministries of catechist, youth minister, retreat leader, homeschool teacher, conference speaker, choir director and worship leader.
The Bertuccis founded the Sanctifire Youth Group at their home parish of St. Anselm in Madisonville. Leslie currently leads the NoLoudRocks Worship Band, which includes two of her sons. God has blessed their entire family with the gifts of music and evangelization; they often minister as a family at prayer meetings, retreats and conferences. Leslie does her best to live by the motto: “Just show up, just say yes, God will take care of the rest.”