In 14 years, my wife and I will move into a brand new season of life: Empty-Nesters. Wow! That’s hard to believe. Literally, 14 years from now (almost to the date), our youngest son, Sam, will be packing his bags and preparing for a move to college (and we will be preparing to sleep through an entire night for the first time in decades…maybe).
It may seem strange that I’m talking about this…in a blog post…now…14 years before it happens. But the reality of this hit me the other day. As my wife and I were celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary, I did some quick math in my head (it had to be quick, because I’m really bad at math!). Fourteen years has gone by since our wedding. Sam is 4, which means that in 14 more years, he will be 18. At 18 he will graduate from high school…. YIKES! It’s true, we’ve only got 14 years left!
We kid ourselves as parents, don’t we? We think, “Ah, you’ve got time,” or, “It’s a long way off anyways.” And then suddenly, we wake up and 14 years has gone by just like that. We even have those who have gone before us (the older and wiser ones who have scaled Mount Parenthood already), speak truth to us like- “Watch out, it goes really fast. Before you know it, they’ll be all grown up and gone!” But in our rushed lives we fail to really listen to them.
We fail to really pay attention to the fact that our children are growing up fast and there will be a day when the screams and thumps from an afternoon of play throughout the house will fall quiet. I tend to get frustrated by loud noises now, but maybe I won’t when that day comes and there’s silence in my house?
People I’m close to are always telling me to not get so upset when my kids do things that frustrate me. “Someday, you’ll miss those things,” they say. But I swear I will never miss pulling into my driveway after a long day, opening my garage, and not being able to pull my car into it’s spot because there are bicycles lying on their side, or toys strewn about on the garage floor. And don’t get me started on nicks and scratches on the walls throughout our house.
Actually, let me get started: this drives me nuts! Literally, I find myself nearly going crazy over all of the chipped paint, scuffed floorboards, and crusted stains down the walls of our beautifully painted hallways. There are times when I actually walk around with a can of paint and “touch-up” the walls. My wife makes fun of me. And, she tells me I need to relax. She’s right!
A few years back, when my 3rd oldest daughter was still in elementary school, she came home from school one day, ran into the house, and handed me a piece of construction paper with fresh finger paint still dripping from it. “Here daddy, I made this for you,” she said with a big smile. I unfolded the paper to find her hand print in paint and these words:
Sometimes you get discouraged because I am so small. And always leave my fingerprints on furniture and walls. But everyday I’m growing I’ll be grown up someday, and those tiny handprints will surely fade away. So here’s a final handprint just so you can recall, exactly how my fingers looked when I was very small.
Wow. Take a moment to wipe away tears if you need to. As you can imagine, I was floored when I read this. It was one of those “defining” moments that tend to sneak up on you when you least expect it. Ever had one of those?
I have. Many, to be exact. And they remind me that what I continually need to be aware of is this:
Time is not slowing down.
My children are growing faster than I can blink.
Fourteen years is not long.
Stop freaking out over the little things.
The walls can always be repainted.
But time with my children can’t be reclaimed after it’s gone!
Question: Have you had the same realizations on your parenting journey, lately? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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