2008 marks twenty years for us as a family and as I watch the years go by, I feel like the first years of raising our kids were in super slow motion and the later years can only be described as the “don’t blink, you might miss it” years. That toddler who was a King in the epiphany pageant is about to enter high school in the Fall, the little girl with the long flowing hair is gearing up to drive a car and the baby girl is gearing up for the middle school years. I’ve been so busy trying to catch up with the backlog of laundry that I hardly notice that all three kids are about to surpass me in height. Our discussions are longer, the topics more interesting, and the disagreements a little more heated, but the years of parenting are golden. I hardly can imagine what it will be like when they are on their own. When my son wraps his arms around me, it’s a bittersweet reminder that it wasn’t that long ago that I was rocking him to sleep in the glider chair with my arms encircling him. The time between then and now is a quick blur. On New Year’s Eve my son turned 14 years old and Bird turns 11 today. My kids are growing up. I’m so happy and yet it hurts so much.
We haven’t had a real baby in our house for 11 years so every time I lay eyes on a little infant, that old longing comes back “I wish we had more”. These sandwich years are difficult because in a sense we are fast tracked towards trying to launch our kids into adulthood, while noting new concerns about the health and wellbeing of parents who are getting up in the later years of life. Every year JD and I remark on how the year has been for us; both the good and the bad and the surprises that each year brings whether they are setbacks or success, sorrows or joys; there is nothing that can prepare us for the changes we encounter year to year, only the expectation that whatever comes our way, we’ll handle it but by the grace of God. Usually when we talk about these things, it’s late on New Year’s Eve after all the reverie has died down, and the conversation starts out a little bit like this, “Did you ever think that this year we’d (fill in the blank) or that (fill in the blank) would happen?”
Uncertainty about the future, the economy, politics, education, coupled with the nuances of life and death; these are the things that prompt us to face the New Year with not only a slight trepidation, but renewed energy, recommitment and hope. Knowing that as we enter the first months of 2008, some of the people we know and love will not be with us by this time next year and there will be new relationships around the bend, people we have yet to meet. Perhaps the coming year will involve finding and rekindling friendships with old friends we haven’t seen in many years, who really knows what’s around the corner for 2008?
More than anything, we see 2008 as the year we prepare for the changes in our own lives, including the kids getting ready for college and high school, helping our parents when and where we are needed and seeking our own vocational goals. Becoming a nursing student at this stage in my life has opened my eyes to the importance of life long learning. It’s never too late to go back to school, to learn something new; to start over again.
So in these uncertain times, it’s better not to know what the future holds, rather it’s a time to start over, in a sense and make changes, while holding fast to the important things such as faith, family and friends, knowing that while some things are just passing, the important things are everlasting, no matter what year it is. Let’s get it started now…Happy New Year!