It's strange. They say that 'time flies' and when you're young, you don't really see it. You're involved in it, so things move the way you think they are supposed to, even though you have no frame of reference to discern what 'supposed to' means.
Paradoxically, rather than learning with experience and age, those of us who are parents actually regress when our children are young. And even when they get bigger, we are still focused on the micro-events that mark their growing up. We focus on the homework, and the plays and the sports and the music.
We focus on 'getting to' Labor Day, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, and not having too many snow days. Then there is summer, which we wish away because of how busy we are and how crazy the kids are making us. Then the process resumes anew as they move to the next grade around Labor Day.
That process keeps most of us in a cycle for at least a dozen years, more if you have multiple children. If we aren't careful and our heads are down, focused on the day-to-day, and even hour-to-hour, we actually miss the flying time. We are like kids - things take as long as they are supposed to take.
If your kids go to college, you have an extension, wherein, like getting your training wheels taken off, you get to practice life without them. They go off and you don't see them, and after the teary first goodbye, that becomes normal. It usually only lasts 4 years. Then, a range of possibilities open up:
Best case for everyone - they get a job, and they have friends with whom they can move in. They have transportation, money and can take the next step in adulthood, living 'on their own.'
Suboptimal - no job, but live away with a subsidy from mom and dad. Not everyone can or should do this, but it can work in some instances.
Misery - no job, the child moves home. Having lived at school or somewhere else for a period of time, moving back home is miserable for all involved. The kid retrieves some of his dependence, and that is humbling. As with most humbling, it's unpleasant.
'Best case for everyone' when the kid gets a job and moves out, is a technically accurate statement. But while their time away at school was temporary, and in retrospect, very short, they are far less likely to come back once they have a job.
(Side note, when people say 'It's All Good,' it generally isn't all good.)
But you know, It's All Good. All we have to do is have them over now and then, and if they move to another city, that is a far less frequent requirement. Such a deal!
Facetime makes it easier, as you can see their face, but you miss them. A lot.
You think of the 'old days' realizing that it doesn't seem that long ago. But it was 10 years. Or 15 or 20. Where does the time go?
Well, wherever it goes, it's gone. It's bittersweet to think about, even more so when you're aided by pictures and videos. (No, I'm not crying, I just got something in my eye!)
This is normal, of course, a variation on Mufasa's circle of life. We parents are either the grass or the antelopes, I suppose. Yes, this is normal.
God gave us all of those days. Some were to teach, some were to play, some were to travel, others to grieve, to rejoice, to stay home. Some were spent with extended family while others were just us. There were traumas and setbacks and disappointments and tears.
But there were also shenanigans that we will laugh about with them for the rest of our days. "Remember that time JP tried to ride the toy alligator and we found out it wasn't a toy? That was educational, wasn't it? That was a nice backpack, but I suppose it could have been worse. Good times..."
Indeed, God gave us those times to savor, and we should absolutely pull them out and savor them now and then.
But what about today? If you're reading this, God is still giving you days. One after another they come like the Wicked Witches Winkie foot soldiers in The Wizard of Oz chanting "Oh EEE Oh, Yoooooh!"
Why did he grant us these days? Well, there are a lot of reasons, but among them, he wants us to enjoy the blessings in our lives. We have work to do, places to go, people to see, but it doesn't feel as frenetic as it used to.
We're blessed to have our memories of these bygone times, just as we have our own childhood, college years, military time or whatever. Memories may make us sad at times, but they also serve to educate us, remind us, even warn us.
What they are not for is feeling undue regret. We can all look back, especially at the time raising our kids and wish we could do certain things differently. But since we can't, better to put those in a closet and not take them out too much.
God gave us these days to do, to be, that is, to live. To the degree we spend time lamenting the past or worrying about the future, we miss opportunities in the present. Memories don't get made, sadnesses aren't shared, laughter goes and finds someone else to tickle. As the Stones sang, 'Time waits for no one...'
So lift your head, stop worrying, stop regretting and do something you'll remember, hopefully with a smile. Autumn is the best time of the year. Go apple picking. Take a hike. Go to a haunted house. See a high school football or soccer or field hockey game. Rake some leaves (wait for them to fall...). Plan your leaf-peeping trip in a few weeks. Appreciate the cool evenings and the comfortable days.
And that's just now. In September in New England. There are memories to be made every day that God gives you. Don't waste them. He made them just for you.
God bless you.
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