I don’t care if your grandparents are the golfing and cookie baking types or of the tobacco spitting and bingo playing variety, but most old folks are full of their own unique brand of wisdom. If there is a universal theme to their sage old advice, it typically revolves around telling us young whipper snappers to slow down and enjoy the moment. Because as we ALL know, (say it with me) “Enjoy the kids now, they’ll be grown before you know it.”
I’m not gonna lie. When my seven year old was born, I counted the days until he turned six months old. I was living in Philadelphia at the time and he and I were pretty much isolated in an old and small second floor apartment while my husband was gone struggling to make ends meet for most of the day. He was colicky (the baby, not the husband) and I had read several places that they usually outgrew it by the time they were 6 months old. I just knew that come July 26th, everything would be o.k. Looking back on that time, it was a blur of breastfeeding, traffic jams, and mice (did I mention our apartment was old?). Now I wish I would have enjoyed the good moments more instead of just trying to push through until things got better.
Before I knew it, my fussy little baby had stopped crying as much, but he also stopped letting me rock him and kiss his cheeks while we sat in our dinky little bedroom that he shared with us. Reading him Goodnight Moon every night was too quickly replaced by him reading Mercer Mayer books by himself and now he is trying his hand at chapter books like Percy Jackson. Baby Einstein videos were replaced by Blues Clues and now it’s some terribly boyish and boring cartoon called Avatar. And saddest of all, he no longer has to sleep with the blankie that was like an extension of his own body. Now it is shredded and stained, sitting in a box in my closet waiting to be preserved for the day when I can maybe give it to one of HIS kids. That kind of makes me want to cry and throw up at the same time.
Being a parent is both a terrible and a wonderful experience. We love our kids so much and so deeply that it sometimes physically hurts. When they make good choices, the pride and joy we feel is overwhelming. Watching them make poor choices and knowing where they can lead can be excruciating and you have to make yourself squash that sense of panic that tries to well up inside. The Bible verse in 2 Timothy 1:7 that says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” has become a mantra when it comes to parenting two kids through today’s world. There is much to fear out there, but I also have faith that God will put a hedge of protection around him.
As he starts a new school tomorrow, I can’t be with him every minute of every day. I can’t be there to explain why people who are nice say and do things that I tell HIM not to do. I can’t beat up kids who make fun of him for being weird, or smart, or chubby, or black. But I can pray for him and for his future. I can try my best to love him and raise him the way that God wants me to. I can be the place where he knows he can come to find acceptance, guidance, and protection. Like my best friend starting saying after the loss of one of her children, I can “Make every goodbye count because you never know if it will be the last one.”
Geesh. Feel like jumping off of a bridge yet? I’m sorry. Never give a nervous mom a forum to vent her feelings about child rearing the night before school starts.
But seriously, take a minute to tell your kids how much you love them and how proud of them you are. They’ll be grown up before you know it.