My youngest daughter graduated and is leaving for college this morning. Where have the years gone? I remember everyone telling me things like: "You blink and they're all grown up." or "The older they get the faster time goes by." or "Savor each moment cause your kids won't be with you forever." I'm sitting here pondering those thoughts and wondering how time got away from me.
I wish I would have taken more time to play in the yard with them when they were younger. They kept asking me to play tag or jump on the trampoline or kick the soccer ball with them and for some reason I made up some reason why I was too busy or too tired. It was somehow always too hot or too late. Words like: "I just ate, so go outside and I'll join you when the food digests." They would run along and I would sit in front of the evening news fully knowing I wasn't going to move a muscle. Maybe tomorrow.
They wanted me to make them an omelet or play hide and seek or color on the kitchen table. They wanted me to listen to them read a book, help them with a science project, or build a fort out of couch cushions. They would persist and somehow I would resist. Somehow, I figured out a way to put them off for years and they never gave up asking me to join them.
They would make up games in the car and I would listen to them in the back seats laughing all the while thinking about what I had to get done tomorrow at work. I saw them buckled in their car seats thinking I had all the time in the world to spend time with them. I even remember thinking that it would be easier when they got older because they could understand more and relate to me better. What was I thinking?
I remember rushing them around frustrated by how distracted they would get with "stupid" things, which were really simple things. A turtle laying eggs in the yard. A soccer ball that they just couldn't resist running out toward and kicking just when we were leaving to go somewhere. The final minute of an "I Love Lucy" episode. But I would just be so irritated that they weren't obeying immediately. "Delayed obedience is disobedience." right? I even remember thinking, "Why can't they just grow up?"
I would rush them to bed cause I didn't want to miss my favorite show, barking out orders like drill sergeants: "Stop fooling around and brush your teeth!" "Stop singing that stupid song and get your pajamas on!" "Quit fighting with your sisters and do what you're told!" What I would give to have them around to "drive me nuts" again...cause today I feel like everything I thought was annoying was actually what made life enjoying. I wish I would have know that while it was happening.
They would get a song in their head like "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..." and would sing it over and over again in the middle of July. I would sit there and tell them to "knock it off". They would laugh loud about something while I was trying to watch the game, and I would tell them to "go upstairs". They would be tickling each other while I was praying for our food and I would scold them. I never thought to cherish those moments of childlike suspension. I never thought to enter in with them.
I thought as the years went on I would "get my act together", find more time to relax, and connect with them more...but every year seemed to bring with it new challenges (I always called distractions challenges...it felt easier to excuse.) But excuses seemed to accompany every season of my life.
"Just a second."
"Maybe in a little bit."
"I will when I get done with this."
When you're a new parent you wish you could fast forward. When you're an old parent you wish you could rewind. I replay the invitations I was given along the way to participate in my daughter's lives and I relive the ways I would delay their invitations and procrastinate. Time and time again I would be in the middle of a moment of meaning and I would trade that moment for personal space. Over and over again they would pull on my pant leg and I would hold up my index finder and whisper "Just one more minute." They would wait out in the back yard for me to get off my cell phone. Eventually, they would move on to something else and I would get caught up in something else and the moment was gone. But back then, it just felt like one little moment. I didn't realize that when you lump moments together, they become minutes. And one little minute moves into another little minute until you're packing up a car and taking your last child to college.
I wish I could go back to when they were little on the 4th of July and just get on a pontoon boat and share a picnic lunch and dive into the cool lake with them and snuggle with them in towels under the hot sun.
Oh, wait. Today is July 4th and my daughters are 13, 11, and 8 and we're heading to the lake to ride a pontoon and swim in the cool waters on this hot and humid afternoon! I don't have to wish I could go back because I'm here!
Funny how when you put those words together it spells "nowhere".
Which place will you be today? What space will you occupy?