I have been thinking a lot lately about the seasons of life, about changes, growing older. Learning. Isn't it important to keep learning regardless of how old you are? I would become a lifelong college student if I had the time. I would study so many things, read different and interesting books each week, sit through discussion groups, write, question, solve, question more.
Colors, leaves, falling, standing, sun, rising, setting, shining. Life. Death. Change.
We are at a unique place in our lives. We are empty-nesters for the most part. The Young Son is away at college and comes home once a month or so when he has to go to Marine Reserves, leaving a trail of junk food and unwashed clothes in his wake. The clothes remain unwashed, waiting in his hamper for him to acknowledge. Twenty, soon to be twenty-one. It is the age of possibility. Daunting. Fun, carefree, tinged with doubt and knowledge that Life as an Adult On Your Own is just around the corner. As parents, we wish to tell them all so many things. Hold on. Enjoy. Love. Run. Stop. Smell. Taste. Cherish. Slow down. Believe...in yourself.
We grab our folding chairs and sit on the sidelines of life like we used to sit at games and silently cheer: You got this! You can do it! Great job! Tough loss, Bud. Practice. Watch out! Keep trying. Heads up! I'm sorry, I know it hurts.
Breath catches when they go down. Waiting. Watching. Praying. You got this!
Questions, mistakes, choices, learning, finding the way, moving. Forward. Growth. Strong.
We have two married children now, each learning to navigate a world in which parents are no longer the ultimate authority nor the financial cushion. It is a new era in our lives and one which we are learning to embrace. New families, rules, ways. Happiness. Our newlywed son and daughter-in-law are slowly unfolding the future, dreaming, planning, being. They are building something together, strengthening a bond of resilience, finding joy. Our daughter and son-in-law are settled, new home, pets, jobs. They are forging their life with temperance and beauty and learning the delicate balance of family, friends, togetherness.
And we are soon to be grandparents.
In talking to our young mother-to-be about her hopes and dreams for her little boy, about raising him, loving him, disciplining him, I have been reflecting on my own two boys and our life together. From this seat in the future it is so easy to contemplate changes you would make in the past but God did not design the world that way, did he? We must accept what we've built and believe that we did our best. I did my best, this I know. Yet still I think of moments when I did not. We all have those. And my sweet and precious daughter-of-my-heart will too, because no one can do their best every second of every day. From my tempered best emerged two young men with strong wills and strong character, excellent manners, good work ethic, good morals, and unquestioning loyalty to those whom they love. I cannot take credit for all that. I can take even less credit for the amazing person I claim as daughter, but I hope I have contributed something meaningful and lasting to all of them.
As parents, our job is to sow seeds and encourage growth, pull the weeds when we can, lovingly tend our garden, but we cannot replicate or mold our children into exactly what we want them to be. They are people, individuals, separate beings. They quickly learn to test what parents tell them, to question, challenge, and forge ahead into what they believe. A friend once described parenting as "an 18-year, 365-day test with no right answers and the only grade is pass/fail."
But grandparenting...Grandparenting. That is where God gives you the chance...
to step up,
cherish without worrying about building character,
nourish with brownies instead of broccoli,
encourage dreams rather than imbue practicality,
play without rules and
laugh and laugh and laugh.
Silliness, messiness, awesomeness.
Babies. Elderly. Parents. Grandparents. Change. Seasons. Faith. Hope. Love.
** The fall trees with stormy sky image was provided by my sweet and wise friend Joan of JoanWPage.com. You will love her blog so check it out!