I’m loving so many things lately. Spring does that to most of us, I believe. The light in the mornings when we leave for school, the tulips in my yard. It’s that time when everything happens quickly. All of a sudden the trees have leaves, the grass is green, the weeds are everywhere (in my yard, at least) and it seems appropriate, for that’s what happens inside our house as well. It’s the season when you don’t want to blink because you’ll miss something wonderful! The world of nature and the growth of my children seem to be pacing each other, transforming into newer versions of themselves so quickly its like I’m watching a time lapse video. Just as there are blooms today where I saw only stalks yesterday, so also freckles appear on noses and new words show up in vocabularies. In a few short, frantic weeks we’ll bid farewell to this year’s school teachers and my children will essentially be pronounced one year older. I look around me and see that we’re all experiencing age and stage appropriate growth, opportunities and challenges. Who they’re becoming is such a discovery and yet they’re more “them” every day. I love trying to abandon myself to the joy of it, but quiet moments occasionally bring a stabbing sense of loss. Sometimes “time” feels so unnatural.
Today has been much quieter than usual. An over-booked week and family movie night last night left us all tired. Even the younger ones slept in this morning, a rare thing, and also a reminder that we’re moving into a new stage as a family. My oldest son, who now stands six feet tall and is heavier than his Dad, is getting close to his 17th birthday. I looked at him today, on the other end of the church pew, and marveled again that someone so big could be my child. How strange it seems and yet how my heart swells with love as I watch him bump into unexpected corners of the adult life he’s fast approaching and do his best to deal with it. My oldest daughter also seems so grown. This afternoon I heard her confidently and decisively discuss her academic plans for high school and beyond with another adult and for a moment she took my breath away. They will be gone so soon. On the other end of the family I’m treasuring every second with my youngest daughter, holding her precious face between my hands more often as we talk to one another. She’s the last one with traces of chubby fingers and round cheeks. I look at my youngest son, eight years old last month, and want to jump for joy. Kindergarten and first grade were so hard for him, as he simply couldn’t read the words on the page in front of him. We found an uncommon vision problem, got glasses, and in the last 8 months he’s improved his reading by more than 60 words per minute, now testing at the expected level for exiting 2nd grade. His teachers and I can’t stop talking about it, smiling about it, marveling at him. I look at that boy and see a miracle and think that for this blessing alone I’m forever indebted to the Lord. Like he’s been rescued. Like I’ve been rescued. Which we have. Last week I was helping in the classroom with my six year old when it was her turn to be the song leader. I looked through her school papers and saw the change in her handwriting – straight, confident, neat. She’ll be in first grade next year and it makes me want to cry. I TRULY never thought I would be HERE. I thought I’d have little ones at home forever, and now I’m a few months away from a couple of hours of quiet each day. It scares me a little.
As I type this, the middle group runs around upstairs instead of getting ready for bed while our youngest sits on Dad’s lap to listen to Winnie the Pooh stories. The oldest two wandered into the room and stayed to listen, and are now laughing hysterically at the dry humor of A. A. Milne. I don’t want tomorrow to come. I wish I could freeze this moment and keep us all here, safe and happy, a little longer.
The middle ones are keeping me grounded. Somehow watching all of them makes me feel like things will turn out, and like my heart might even make it out in one piece. My thirteen year old son suddenly gets up from the dinner table and does the dishes at night without being asked, even volunteering to do them alone sometimes. He’s made choices lately that make me proud and I’m excited to see the young man he will become. My nine and eleven year old daughters get prettier every day. I love that they let me dry their hair in the mornings; I watch them get taller as it gets longer. They are all so much fun right now, quick to laugh and run and play, daily creating new worlds of imagination to inhabit together. Oh, how I love the “together” they’ve created for themselves. It is one of my greatest joys. I don’t know how I’d handle the bittersweet of the oldest and youngest ones without the safety of the middle group right now. They’re my anchor.
Our days are full of end-of-year reports, shots, registration for next year’s everything, soccer games, book reports, school programs, working out the summer calendar. I forgot some things this week and felt foolish; I remembered so much. The frequency with which my eyes fill with tears sometimes alarms me yet I’m grateful to feel alive and sensitive.
In the past six weeks I’ve felt a yearning for home that is strong. It’s not a yearning for anything I have here on earth, and not homesickness, but the yearning of a little girl who wants to run home for a quick hug. It washes over me unexpectedly, as if to remind me of my true identity and purpose as a daughter of God. I miss Him. It’s nice to be reminded that he misses me too, and understands that even as I try to oversee the journey of my children, I’m still experiencing my own, complete with things I’ve never faced before. He understands and loves me anyway, or perhaps, because.
Life is good. Moving at lightning speed, but good.